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Waterloo City Hall reopened Monday as part of gradual reopening plan
In alignment with Phase 2 of Ontario's Framework for Re-opening the Province and the June 8 provincial announcement permitting the opening of additional City amenities and facilities, the City of Waterloo and other local municipalities will gradually reopen some facilities in the days and weeks ahead. City Hall and the Service Centre reopened to the public on Monday, June 15 with physical distancing guidelines in place. As the province lifts restrictions, the reopening of amenities and facilities across the city will be gradual and phased. City staff have begun the work to prepare for the phased reopening of permitted facilities. It is important to note, however, that given the complexity of some re-openings, the need to initiate certain maintenance activities and inspections, staffing limitations due to the large number of employees on unpaid designated emergency leave, financial constraints and the need for heightened safety protocols, it is not possible to reopen all facilities at once.
Western partners with Bell on 5G research initiative
To accelerate 5G innovation in Canada, and because 13 other Universities across Canada have been shored up by China's behemoth Huawei, Western has partnered with Bell Canada to create an advanced 5G research centre – turning the campus into a 'living lab' that will help shape smarter cities and communications systems, boost drone security, better manage business continuity, and more. Bell will invest $2.7 million and deploy 5G network equipment and infrastructure throughout the Western campus. The partnership will also fund research and development initiatives, training opportunities, and technological innovations.
New platform helps main street businesses go digital
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered with stores closed and in-person commerce halted. To support these businesses to recover and generate new revenue, on June 11, Minister Joly announced a FedDev Ontario investment of $50 million to support Ontario small businesses to go digital, including $42.5 million to establish the Digital Main Street Platform. This Platform, delivered by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), Communitech, and Invest Ottawa, will offer tailored support to businesses to adopt digital technologies to compete now and in the future, while creating work opportunities for students.
COVID-19 and our cities
Toronto is being left out of the Stage 2 re-opening happening across the rest of the province next week. Why is that? And in what other ways are cities unique in how the pandemic is affecting them? Professor Brian Doucet of the School of Planning is asked these and other questions about urban spaces and COVID-19. Why are cities unique when it comes to the COVID-19 threat? Contemporary cities are both highly interconnected places and sites of growing levels of inequality. We can see these characteristics in how COVID-19 has impacted urban space. In many countries, COVID-19 first arrived in large, global cities connected to the rest of the world by busy international airports (think Milan, New York). However, it would subsequently spread quickly through lower-income communities (often consisting of visible minorities) living in overcrowded housing in the suburbs, rather than downtown. It is in these areas, rather than gentrified urban cores, where the effects of COVID-19 have been most severe.
Waterloo Region Council has approved $119,401 in funding for 19 projects under the Community Environmental Fund (CEF) grant program this year. Applicants receiving funding include 10 community organizations, five schools (including both elementary and post-secondary), and four projects initiated by an area municipality. Some of the specific projects awarded funding include:
Equifax® Canada’s latest report on Canadian consumer credit provides a view into the early impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Average non-mortgage debt dropped 0.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 reflecting the significant drop in consumer spending in March. This is the first decline in average balances in more than a decade. “With stores and restaurants shut down, consumers were able to cut back on their spending in March as retail sales numbers indicated,” said Bill Johnston, Equifax Canada’s Vice President of Data & Analytics. “The result was a plunge in credit card spending that translated into much lower balances. That trend gained momentum in April, with few signs that consumers are looking to debt for support in the early days of the pandemic.”
Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) announced that Sean Strickland has joined the CBTU as the new Executive Director, effective July 6, 2020. “North America’s Building Trades Unions are happy to welcome Sean Strickland as the new Canadian Executive Director,” said Sean McGarvey, President, North America’s Building Trades Unions. “Sean is a respected senior construction executive with the strong leadership experience and understanding of the Building Trades needed to carry on the important work we do and to effectively represent Canada’s skilled trades workers at the national level.”
Everyone experiences loss, but how do you cope with the tough moments that follow? Resilience researcher Lucy Hone shares three hard-won strategies for developing the capacity to brave adversity, overcome struggle and face whatever may come head-on with fortitude and grace.
Kitchener City Hall to reopen to the public for select City services, by appointment
As part of the second stage in the City’s phased COVID-19 recovery plan, Kitchener City Hall will reopen June 15 for limited public access by allowing in-person appointment for select City services that cannot be delivered online or by phone. Beginning June 15, residents can request an in-person appointment online through the City of Kitchener’s website or by phone through the City’s 24/7 Corporate Contact Centre at 519-741-2345. Only select City services will be available in person and public access to the building will be limited to individuals with confirmed appointments.
Labatt Breweries of Canada is taking a leading role in restoring public confidence during the COVID-19 reopening stages by signing on as a founding corporate partner of the newly launched POST (People Outside Safely Together) Promise. The private sector-led initiative is designed to help Canadians confidently and safely take the first steps back into public spaces and the workplace.
FedDev Ontario and partners to assist nearly 23,000 Ontario businesses in embracing online commerce
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered with stores closed and in-person commerce halted. From the outset, the Government of Canada has taken action to support sectors affected by the pandemic, including the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), launched on May 13. The national $962-million fund, delivered through Canada’s regional development agencies, supports small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Canada that have been unable to get access to existing relief measures. In southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario is delivering $213 million to provide short-term financial relief and help businesses recover.
Small Business Rebound Necessary for Economic Recovery
Last week, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) released Small Business, Big Pivot: A devastating downturn, and how Canadian enterprises can transition. The report contains proprietary economic research which outlines how the landscape has shifted for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document also includes a tangible plan to help Canadian small businesses thrive in a post-pandemic economy. “The recession at-hand is unlike the one Canada or the world witnessed in 2008, in terms of both its structure and scale,” says Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “The majority of our members are small businesses; businesses that are cornerstones of our community and the engine of Ontario’s economy. The data presented in RBC’s report echoes the concerns that we have been hearing from small businesses, one of the groups hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Yesterday THEMUSEUM announced that the collaboration with its restaurant partner, now closed due to COVID-19, will not reopen. “It is with heavy hearts we announce that our Food & Beverage outlets have been extremely impacted by the pandemic and we must realign as an organization,” said Billie-Anne Arthur, Managing Director, B Hospitality / Cambridge Hotel & Conference Centre. Arthur went on to say, “The B has been part of THEMUSEUM for the past 5 years and they have been an amazing partner. We would like to thank them as well as the community for all the love and support over the years. We wish THEMUSEUM every success as they navigate their way through these unprecedented times.”
Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce released the following statement in reaction to the joint announcement by the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario in support of small businesses accessing new opportunities by creating and enhancing their online presence and expanding their reach to new customers in and beyond Ontario. “Ontario’s economy and communities thrive when small businesses succeed. The OCC welcomes today’s support for small business to get online and embrace digital tools to grow their organizations. We understand the hardships small businesses are enduring while COVID-19 abatement measures are in place and applaud government efforts to help them pivot to recovery and growth post-pandemic.
Stage 2, what does it mean?
We know you have questions about stage 2 re-opening in Ontario so we’ve asked Professor Zahid Butt, an expert in Public Health, to help us understand what’s open, what’s closed, and why. With Stage 2 happening in most of Ontario, but not Toronto or the GTA, is there a concern that people will travel to areas that are re-opening earlier and contribute to a new wave on those areas? It is likely that people will travel to areas that are re-opening earlier with the possibility of a new wave of coronavirus cases in these areas. These cases are possible because there are a lot of presymptomatic or asymptomatic cases of coronavirus in the community. If people do not practice physical distancing, wear masks, and follow public health guidelines in public areas such as stores, hair salons, or restaurants, this could result in the transmission of the virus to people who are not infected. However, this can be prevented provided people and establishments (that have re-opened) follow public health guidelines on prevention of coronavirus such as physical distancing, wearing masks, frequent handwashing, and sanitizing places of business.
On Monday, the first floor of the Cambridge City Hall will be open to the public for in-person inquiries and bill payments. Customer-related services will be consolidated at the Service Cambridge counter with additional kiosks in the Bowman Room (both located on the first floor). Residents are encouraged to continue to do as much city business online and over the phone, as possible. Residents who visit City Hall will see enhanced health and safety precautions in place, including plexiglass screens, floor markings to support physical distancing requirements, and signage to help with traffic flow and maximum occupancy. The public is asked to use the entrance on Dickson Street. City Hall will be open 8:30am to 4:30pm during weekdays.