Cambridge’s Economic Response Plan continues to support local businesses

Posted on Tuesday June 16, 2020

City Staff reported to City Council today on the numerous initiatives and activities that have been implemented to support local businesses and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic through the City’s Economic Response Plan. 

The Plan’s key goals have been to minimize the loss of local business, jobs and development as businesses transition through re-opening and recovery phases, support local businesses with the information they need for safe operation, offer financial flexibility to residents where possible, and ensure effective recovery and a strong economy as the community emerges from the effects of the pandemic.

“The health of our local economy depends greatly on the strength of our business community,” said Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “It continues to be a priority of Cambridge Council to support local businesses and residents to ensure their road to recovery is as smooth as possible.”

Key Initiatives:

  • Financial relief including waiving penalties and interest on property taxes and utility bills for the months of April, May and June 2020, and the development of an application-based property tax deferral program to extend the 2020 final property tax due dates by 60 days to give businesses and residents who qualify extra time to pay final tax bills, if needed. Council also approved the waiving of late payment charges on utility bills for the months of April, May and June. 
  • Dedicated web page INVESTCambridge.ca/COVID19 that lists federal, provincial and municipal programs available to local businesses and residents as well as important links to programs and services that promote and support local businesses.
  • Economic Development services including business consultations and business assistance have continued to support the local business community remotely. INVEST Cambridge staff have worked with the Region of Waterloo Small Business Centre to provide webinars on relevant topics during the pandemic.
  • The Business Outreach Survey is collecting feedback from Cambridge business owners/leaders on the impact of COVID-19 on their business. The survey results will help form focused actions and opportunities to advocate to upper levels of government on behalf of local businesses. The survey is available at engagecambridge.ca and has been extended until June 30.
  • The OrderFromHome program promotes local businesses and restaurants that have adapted their business model by offering curbside pickup, takeout and/or delivery options. The #DineFromHome and #ShopFromHome campaigns have been well received in the community since their April launch, and the local restaurant map has recently expanded to include restaurants with patios open, since Cambridge entered Stage 2 of re-opening the Province on June 12.
  • Streamlined online patio permit process to easily expedite patio extensions and additional outdoor spaces.
  • Worked closely with vendors for a safe reopening of the Farmers’ Market at the end of June.

The report also provides an overview of many of the local businesses who have stepped up during the pandemic to offer support services in creative ways.

“We have many good news stories to share from within the local business community, which is meeting the challenge of providing much-needed support for health services and offering solutions related to the pandemic, while keeping the local economy in motion,” added James Goodram, Director of Economic Development at the City of Cambridge.