Sarnia-Lambton's road to recovery expected to be rocky
SARNIA, ONT. -- As emergency measures cross the 60 day mark, the curve for COVID-19 cases is beginning to decrease.
However, the battle that has not yet begun is the economic recovery which has officials concerned about the future
“No sugar coating it, it is serious,” Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says during community conference focused on a path to economic recovery.
“This is worse than the recession we had in the 1980s”
Bradley quoted stats from the tourism industry saying 20 to 30 per cent of businesses won’t make it through the economic crisis on the horizon.
“Restaurants that won’t reopen, other companies that won’t be able to function,” he says.
Tourism is a double edge sword for a city like Sarnia and Lambton County during this pandemic, much of it is driven by American visitors.
While officials would like businesses to open, and welcome back American tourists, it’s just not safe at this time.
“We shouldn’t rush into that, we know what’s going on in Michigan,” says MPP for Sarnia-Lambton Bob Bailey, referring to the possibility of the border opening in the next 30 days.
Mayor Bradley sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday calling on him to delay the reopening cross border traffic.
“On behalf of the control group to keep pressing the Americans to keep the border closed at least for the next 30 days, and I would hope even longer until we get back to normal.”
With the first long weekend of the season approaching there is also a worry that cottagers in Lambton County will flood the area.
Warden Bill Weber is not telling them to stay away, but asking to stay put when they arrive.
“It’s an awful thing for a mayor or a warden to say we don’t need you right now, We need everybody to keep safe and stay home the best you can” says Weber.
“We need people to be self sufficient in their cottage, we need this to happen now so we can open in July and August and the businesses can open that need to open.”
Mikelle Bryson-Campbell from the Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board says through research it has found a staggering amount of people are being impacted by COVID-19.
“Approximately 37% (of people) are out of work, an additional 17% are working from home.”
It’s those stark numbers that has prompted mayor Bradley to urge the federal government to create a stimulus program aimed at getting small businesses prepared to reopen.
“I would respectfully suggest to you that a small business program be put in place to assist those who need to do the physical renovations to permit them to open safely for their employees and for the general public” the letter reads.
“This program would be geared to small business only and would also be a partial stimulus to the local construction industry as they carry out the work needed.”