In order to assess the impact of this summer’s devastating wildfire season on area businesses, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has engaged Colin O’Leary as a community recovery manager; and one of his first steps will be proactively reaching out to business owners, says Debbie Sell, director of human resources for the TNRD.
However, Sell adds that while O’Leary will try to contact as many businesses as possible, business owners who want to ensure they are included in the process should contact O’Leary.
“That would be really helpful for us,” she says. “It’s not easy for us to identify all business owners when we’re outside the municipalities. Contact us and say ‘Here I am, I want to be part of the process.’ We want to make sure we include all the businesses that are out there.”
The appointment of O’Leary to assist business owners comes hard on the heels of the announcement that the TNRD has hired Bob Finley as a recovery manager to assist property owners in the regional district who lost structures during this summer’s wildfires (“TNRD hires fire recovery manager”, The Journal, November 16).
O’Leary will be heading up a project that will consist of three main components. The first is to actively engage the businesses affected by the 2017 wildfire season in the TNRD through in-person meetings, community engagement sessions, and surveys, while the second is to quantify the economic loss in the area, identify existing resources that are available, and highlight any gaps in support programs for businesses.
The third component will be to recommend options moving forward to address gaps in support for businesses looking to recover from the 2017 wildfires.
Sell says that among the businesses covered by the process are guest ranches and tour operators. “It’s not just business owners. It’s for anyone who has an economic interest in the area.”
The timing of the group meetings has not been settled yet, but Sell says more information will be coming out soon about dates and times, and about the steps that will be taken to engage the business community. She also says that the TNRD is looking at holding meetings in the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area. “We want to make it as easy as possible for people.”
She says that O’Leary will be able to help business owners identify what support programs have already been generated. “It can be a little bit daunting to know where to go, or if certain programs are out there. We can be the central point of contact, and can spread information to people out there.”
Business owners impacted by the wildfires can contact O’Leary by email at email@example.com.