PONOKA ( 660 NEWS ) — Ponoka Town Council is calling on the provincial government to provide more support for businesses in rural Alberta communities.
Several members of council, including Mayor Rick Bonnett, released a video address yesterday, outlining what they need from the province for the remainder of the pandemic.
“The financial assistance programs currently being offered to small rural businesses in Alberta are not enough.” said Bonnett, adding, “these funding programs should be administered at the municipal level because we know our businesses and our communities best.”
LISTEN: Ponoka Town Council calls on the province to help keep businesses in rural communities afloat
“The Ponoka Stampede, will likely either be majorly scaled back or possibly cancelled again this year,” he said, adding, “There’s a real risk that some of our small businesses may be forced to shut their doors during this pandemic if more financial assistance isn’t provided to them.”
Bonnet also explained how the public health orders and COVID restrictions have a greater impact on business in smaller communities, compared to urban centres.
“City businesses still have access to hundreds of thousands of people once they’re restricted to take-out service only,” Bonnet explained, adding that the cancellation of large events in smaller communities are also detrimental to small businesses.
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During the address, council members also applauded those who they feel are keeping the community safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This included residents and business owners who are following the restrictions, children who are participating in e-learning, and healthcare workers.
“You are truly heroes in our community, and your efforts are making a difference,” Councillor Carla Prediger said, asking members of the community to continue to support each other in order to get through the pandemic together.
The Canadian Federation for Independent Business estimates that between eight and 25 percent of small business’ in Alberta will be forced to close due to the pandemic.