We have created this page as a resource, tool and a source of information directly from the Sparks Street BIA. This has been a planned project that was fast-tracked due to the COVID-19 pandemic with constant information being released daily.
Thank you for your cooperation and please e-mail if there is something not yet addressed here. We will work together to overcome this pandemic and all it entails in the coming days.
June 8, 2020
Some great news announced by the province with the announcement that Ottawa is one of the regions entering the Second Phase of the provinces reopening plan.. Patios, hairdressers, and tour guides services are some of the businesses and activities that will be allowed to begin operations as of Friday. There is also an increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2.
A summary of the premiere’s news release is below along with links to provincial resources.
June 8, 2020 - Today, the Ontario government announced that it is getting more people back to work and more recreational activities open by moving forward with a regional approach to Stage 2 of reopening the province.
Ottawa Public Health Unit regions allowed to move into Stage 2 on Friday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m.
Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place entering Stage 2 include:
Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
Camping at private campgrounds;
Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.
As more people return to work, the services they rely on will need to be available regardless of the stage a region is in. The province will soon release more details on:
Post-secondary education pilots to help people graduate;
Training centres; and
Everyone, regardless of where they live in the province, must continue to follow public health advice, including to practise physical distancing, wear a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
The province has also placed a restriction of commercial evictions, to be in effect from June 3rd to August 31st, for businesses that are eligible for the CECRA.
Also some additional documents:
If you have re-opening questions Ontario has a hotline you can call - 1-888-444-3659.
May 29, 2020
Business Grants, Social Media Webinars & Free Stickers!
We have printed and started distribution of window stickers and floor decals to assist you in helping your customers practice physical distancing. If people are interested, we can also print decals for the sidewalk outside you business. I have attached the artwork to this email. We will continue to hand out the decals next week. If we miss you, don’t hesitate to let us know when we can drop them off.
We would like to extend a final opportunity for you to apply for the Sparks Street BIA E-Commerce Grant of $,1000 to assist you with your online shops and platforms – whether to set one up or for a marketing strategy. You must apply and have your application approved before you can receive any funds. Grants will be issued after you submit an invoice(s) to us outlining your expenses.
To apply, please click on this link and fill out the Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program Form. Do not hesitate to reach out to us with questions.
Facebook has also launched a Grant Program and New Supports for Small Businesses which you can find here: Small Business Grants Program. Read their press release for information on the grant, eligibility, free training, etc.: Facebook Press Release
Additionally, we have gained access to a useful webinar on social media marketing which we are sharing with you – please take the time to have a look at it as it is only available for 48 hours! We have also attached the webinar’s coinciding slides to this e-mail for your benefit.
Evolving your Marketing Communications - A Social Media Guide
Here is a list of more workshops/seminars of upcoming free webinars you can register for:
We hope this is a helpful resource and will keep an eye out for other upcoming webinars and tools to share with you.
May 20, 2020
City of Ottawa Business Re-Opening Kit
The City of Ottawa’s Economic Development Dept along with Ottawa Public Health has created this page with posters you can download, print and post. It also has information links, FAQs, and more to help you to safely open your business.
May 19, 2020
Canada Emergency Business Account Eligibility Expansion
The Federal government has announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses.
The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.
To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:
a business operating account at a participating financial institution
a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.
More details, including the launch date for applications under the new criteria, will follow in the days to come. We will forward more details as they are announced.
Full Release from the Prime Minister’s Office can be found here:
May 14, 2020
The Province today announced a further easing of restrictions for retail.
Starting Tuesday, May 19: retail stores that have street-front entrances are allowed to open, with strict physical distancing guidelines. This also includes animal services, pet groomers and vets (by appointment), housekeeping and maintenance services. The province has also lifted further limits on essential construction. Here's the full list of things allowed to open on May 19.
You will need to restrict access to ONE customer per FOUR square metres (43 square feet) — to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres at all times.
Restaurants and Personal Services are still not allowed to have costumers inside their businesses at this time.
Personal Protective Gear (PPE)
If you are unsure how to navigate the funding support programs currently being provided, it has been suggested to us that you contact your banking advisor as some of the funds are being funneled through the banks.
Additional Provincial resources available for businesses:
May 13, 2020
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
A program from the federal government that may be of benefit to some members is the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). The RRRF provides interest-free loans to Small/Medium Enterprises that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current federal government COVID-19 relief measures. This is to help support fixed operating costs where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Details can be found here: https://www.feddevontario.gc.ca/eic/site/723.nsf/eng/02583.html?OpenDocument
City of Ottawa’s Innovation Pilot Program
The City of Ottawa’s Innovation Pilot Program (IPP) is shifting its focus towards COVID-19 economic recovery efforts (the IPP Recovery Stream). Entrepreneurs and the business community are invited to submit proposals for technology innovations that will accelerate Ottawa’s ability to get the workforce back to work and safely resume business operations. Applications are now open and will close on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, at 4 PM. More information can be found here: https://ottawa.ca/en/economic-development-initiatives/innovation-pilot-program
Overview of Masks
Ottawa Public Health has prepared the attached “Overview of Masks” document which includes a list of businesses selling protective cloth masks. Benton’s Menswear in 240 Sparks is also selling them https://bentonsmenswear.com/collections/frontpage/products/non-medical-face-mask-for-adults-children.
Retail Advice GOC
The Government of Canada has an updating ‘Advice for essential retailers during COVID-19 pandemic’ page you can monitor as changes come forward towards re-opening: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents/advice-essential-retailers.html
The SSBIA is working on signage for window stickers as the provincial guidelines develop to have a unified messaging along the street. Phonebooth signs have been created with Ottawa Public Health’s input and will be displayed on the street this week to remind pedestrians of physical distancing.
The province has allowed curbside pickup for businesses with street entrances as of Monday May 11 (https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/05/ontario-retail-stores-open-for-curbside-pickup-and-delivery.html). If your business is opening for curbside pickup, please let us know so we can assist in promoting it. Here is a guideline for curbside: https://www.wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/covid-19-delivery-service-health-and-safety-guidance.pdf?ext=.pdf
May 6, 2020
Curbside Pick Up
Some positive news today with the opening of green spaces across the city and the announcement by the province of the easing of restrictions on businesses.
Starting on May 11th, all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery. The business owners should review the health and safety guidelines developed by the province and its health and safety association partners. Here is the link to the news release by the Premier’s office:
Getting Ready to Reopen
As you start to think about reopening, there are a number of resources you can review. On a conference call this afternoon, City of Ottawa staff informed us they are creating a number of tools such as checklists, posters, and guidelines to help. As soon as this toolkit is ready we forward it to you. Here are links to the current provincial guidelines:
The City of Ottawa is looking to create a resource list of local suppliers to help provide items like masks, gloves, etc. If you know of a business that can help, please let us know so we can direct them to the correct official.
EzGARD is a local Ottawa firm that distributes a variety of plexiglass shields for desks, counters, etc. They are offering a discount to BIA members:
We are pleased to offer you a 10% discount when you order any of our products from www.ez-gard.ca. At checkout, please enter the following discount code: BIALUV10
EzGardTM is an Ottawa-based company that designs and manufactures lightweight, easy-to-install distancing barriers designed to help reduce exposure and cross-contamination. This includes counter-top and desk-top versions that are ideal for the protection of cashiers, clerks, estheticians, receptionists and others interacting with the public, as well as an automotive version that was developed with taxi and ride-share drivers and their passengers in mind. For more information, please visit www.ez-gard.ca.
May 1, 2020
Certain Businesses Allowed to Reopen
Under Strict Safety Guidelines
The Ontario government is allowing certain businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.
The government, in partnership with Ontario's health and safety associations, has developed more than 60 guidelines in response to COVID-19. These sector-specific measures will help employers prepare their workplaces so they can be reopened safely and ensure workers, customers and the general public are protected. These can be found in this attachment - Health and Safety Association Guidance Documents for Workplaces During the COVID-19 Outbreak
By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:
Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
Lawn care and landscaping;
Additional essential construction projects that include:
shipping and logistics;
broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
colleges and universities;
child care centres;
site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
Automatic and self-serve car washes;
Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.
Although certain businesses are being permitted to reopen, it is critical that people continue to stay home, practise physical distancing and only go out for essential reasons, to pick up groceries, prescriptions or to keep a medical appointment. It is through these simple actions that Ontario is making progress to stop the spread of COVID-19.
On April 27, the government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.
April 27, 2020
Government of Ontario Sector Specific Guidelines
Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.
These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sector guidelines contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers safe on the job. Posters for both employers and workers also offer advice on preventative actions, including physical distancing and workplace sanitation. Employers are encouraged to download the posters to print and post in the workplace.
As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional COVID-19 workplace safety resources will be added.
The link to the Sector Specific Guidelines can be found in the Resource Links section
April 24, 2020
The Federal and provincial governments have announced the details of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small business.
You will find the a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office below along with links to the previously announced programs. You can review the details of the program at this link from the Province of Ontario’s website:
Prime Minister announces partnerships with provinces and territories to deliver the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses
April 24, 2020
Small businesses across the country are the backbone of our communities, and they are now facing significant challenges. That is why the Government of Canada and provincial and territorial partners are taking strong, immediate, and effective action to protect Canadians and businesses from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are introducing significant measures to support them and ensure they have the resources to make it through these difficult times.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
The government is also providing further details on the program:
The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.
Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
Today’s announcement is part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which is addressing the challenges facing Canadians and their employers during this time of global uncertainty. The government continues to assess and respond to the impacts of COVID-19, and stands ready to take additional actions as needed to stabilize the economy and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
“More help is on the way for our small businesses across the country. They are the backbone of our families, our communities, and our economy. That is why we will continue working closely with provinces and territories to make sure that Canadian businesses have the support they need during these difficult times.”
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“Small businesses are an integral part of our economy, and are vital for families and communities across the country. Many businesses are facing economic hardship and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank and commend the many property owners who have already taken action to help their tenants during this crisis. Today’s program will provide forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn will lower the rent of tenants to keep them prepared to bounce back when this crisis subsides.”
The Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will administer and deliver the CECRA, a collaboration between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships.
Provinces and territories have agreed to cost share total costs and facilitate implementation of the program. They will cost share up to 25 per cent of costs, subject to terms of agreements with the federal government.
It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.
Further details on CECRA will be shared in the near future once final terms and conditions are available. The federal government and provincial and territorial governments urge property owners to provide flexibility to tenants facing hardship in this uncertain time.
Under a rent forgiveness agreement, which includes a moratorium on eviction, the mortgaged commercial property owner would reduce the small business tenant’s monthly rent by at least 75 per cent. The tenant would be responsible for covering 25 per cent, the property owner 25 per cent, while the federal government and provinces would share the remaining 50 per cent. The forgivable loans would be disbursed directly to the mortgage lender.
April 13, 2020
Youth Summer Jobs Program
Several businesses on Sparks take advantage of this program each year. Last week, The Prime Minister announced changes to the Youth Summer Jobs Program. The temporary changes to the program for this year include:
an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis
Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program
The Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program still has some grants available. To apply, please click on this link and fill out the Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program Form. You must apply and have your application approved before you can receive any funds.
Once your store is online (or if it already is), we will include you on the Sparks Street Online Shop which we have begun to promote.
Little Miss Ottawa is offering some free Marketing assistance to small businesses: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-udadqDOJ1/. She is also has a special package available to assist you will the building of an online store.
Take a Mental Health Checkup
While we are all taking the necessary steps to say physically healthy, a pandemic is a very stressful event for individuals and communities. It’s normal to feel some stress and anxiety. It’s also very common for people to display great resiliency during times of crisis. Even if we can’t be close physically, emotional connections are important. Stay in touch with your family and friends and reach out if you need support. If you are doing well, remember that a friend may be in need of a call.
The Canadian Mental Health Association has put together some resources and suggestions to help support your mental health.
Events in the City
With the provincial order banning all gatherings over five people the City has officially withdrawn all municipal support of all events until June 30th. This effectively cancels all public programming and events. Once the ban has been lifted it will likely be a very slow process to return to the new normal.
We’ve rebooked Ribfest for September 9-13. If restrictions are still in place it will be cancelled until next year. Buskerfest is still scheduled for the August Civic Long weekend. We will leave in place for now but we will work with officials as we get closer to the dates. Poutinefest which was scheduled for April 23-26 is on hold. We will reschedule it as soon as we are allowed to do so.
April 6, 2020
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Canada Emergency Response Benefit for workers and businesses (CERB)
While the CERB applications begin the week of Monday, April 6, 2020, there are steps you can take to ensure your application process runs smoothly. The government has been working with major banks on direct deposit for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit and encouraged Canadians to visit their bank’s website to enrol for CERB direct deposit. Click here to learn more
To avoid the system crashing, you are asked to apply on certain days depending on the month you were born:
Government of Canada Releases Details of the Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Government of Canada has released more a backgrounder with more information on the Emergency Wage Subsidy, including eligible employers, and how to apply. Click here to learn more
FREE Smart Serve Online Training
Smart Serve offering Online Training free until April 30, 2020
Individual Certification training can be completed online 24/7. The training will prepare you to work in any environment where alcohol is sold, served, or sampled in the province of Ontario. The online program is fully translated and available in six (6) different languages: English, French, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, and Spanish. Click here to learn more
Tuesday, March 31
Federal and Provincial Economic Updates
The link above will take you to the Government of Canada’s main page outlining the financial support they are providing to individuals and businesses. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to apply for more than one. As more details are announced and the links to apply are activated, you will find them here. Here are the latest business oriented points from the Government of Canada:
To further support small businesses, the Government of Canada will:
Announce a 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month. (It has been announce that the 75-per-cent wage subsidy is meant to help employers that can show their revenues have fallen by at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19. It will be capped at $847 a week, backdated to March 15, and the number of workers a company or other organization employs won’t be a factor. As with many programs announced, the details may change between now and April 7th when it is expected to go online)
Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.
Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans – guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada – will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need, at a zero per cent interest rate, so they can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.
Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements
The Government has released the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update.
Through this update, the government has announced that the property tax reassessment which was scheduled to be conducted in 2020 for the 2021 tax year will be postponed. This is intended to provide stability for Ontario’s property taxpayers and municipalities, and will enable municipal governments to focus their attention on critical public health initiatives and other efforts to manage the local response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The government also announced that it is deferring the property tax payments municipalities make to school boards by 90 days. Deferring the June 30th quarterly remittance to school boards by 90 days will provide municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide over $1.8 billion in property tax deferrals to residents and businesses.
Renamed the Tourism Development Fund to the Tourism Development and Recovery Fund and increased the fund from $500,000 to $1.5 Million.
Working with industry partners on an online marketplace and Town Centre for all Ontarians to access concerts, art, digital gallery and museum tours and attraction pre-purchases, with an initial investment of $150,000 to match community contributions to give musicians a platform to do concerts from the safety of their homes.
Destination Ontario is actively working on a marketing program that will let the world know that when they are ready to travel and when we are a safe environment to accept them back, we will be ready.
Allowing all licensed restaurants, bars and pubs to sell and deliver unopened alcohol at their establishments.
Provided lists of Hotels to MOH, MOLTC and MCCSS to be used in the event hospitals, LTC's, VAW Centres need capacity due to social distancing. Yesterday’s economic statement earmarked $341 Million if this is required.
For our Film and TV industry we are revising regulations to allow contract and freelance workers to receive Ontario’s three refundable film and TV tax credits while at the same time working to streamline the time it takes to complete them.
For our emerging artists, they are retooling our $7 Million Ontario Music Fund to get more money into hands immediately during this crisis.
Olympics have been postponed and many of sport hosting events have been cancelled. Each year the Province invests $10 Million into our athletes through Quest for Gold and Sport Hosting events. Despite these postponements and cancellations this money will still be available.
Celebrate, OAC, OCAF or Trillium Grant will flow even if events are forced to cancel. The Province will invest almost $200 Million in 2020.
Local libraries, community museums and governments agencies and attractions will see their money flow very quickly so when it is safe to do so, they can open their doors again to the public
Monday, March 30
Property Tax Deferral and Mayor's message for Rent Support
Please find below the press release sent by the city regarding the Property tax deferral. The Mayor has also sent out a message to property owners and business owners asking them to work together on rent support
City launches application for property tax relief
for those financially impacted by COVID-19
Ottawa – The City has now implemented an interim property tax payment grace period and a new 2020 Property Tax Hardship Deferral Plan to help many residents and businesses who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grace period for interim property tax payment
With the interim property taxes mailed out in mid-February, the City extended a grace period to Wednesday, April 15, with no late payment applied between the original March 19 deadline and the new date for those unable to make payment by the due date. The interim property tax bill covers 50 per cent of the entire property tax bill.
New 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
The City has also established a 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program for qualifying residents, as well as businesses that have an assessed property value of up to $7.5 million – which captures 91 per cent of all commercial properties in Ottawa. The program extends both the interim property tax deadline (March 19) and the final property tax deadline (June 18) to Friday, October 30, 2020.
To qualify, your account would need to have been paid up to date before the interim tax installment. The application deadline is July 31, 2020.
View, Print and Payment options
Ottawa residents can sign up for paperless billing for property tax and water bills. This is a secure website where you can manage, view, print and pay your bills online. It is free to set up, easy to use and provides residents access to their account information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit ottawa.ca for more information.
Residents have several payment options for property tax and water bills that can be done from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Telephone and online banking through their financial institution
Debit or credit payment online at ottawa.ca
Friday, March 27
COVID-19 Financial Support Update
The Federal government has just announced that they are boosting the wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized businesses, boosting it to 75 per cent. They have also announced a one year $40,000 interest free loan for businesses.
More details are coming out over the weekend into Monday. When more details of these programs become available, we will share them.
We have also launched the new Sparks Street Online Shop.
There are still a number of Sparks Street e-Commerce Program grants available for merchants to apply for. I encourage you to do so if you believe this will work for your business.
Monday, March 23
Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program
The Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program will allow member merchants to apply for one of two grants:
A Starting-up Grant (maximum of $1000) for a Sparks Street member that wishes to establish an online store on a platform such as Shopify. It would allow our merchants to sell products and gift cards/certificates to people during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant can be used to pay for tech support, subscription fees, marketing, etc.
If you already have an online store, you can apply for a Marketing Grant up to a maximum of $1000 to specifically promote your e-store.
You must apply and have your application approved before you can receive any funds. Grants will be issued after you submit an invoice(s) to us outlining your expenses.
To apply, please click on this link and fill out the Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program Form. There are up to 30 grants available.
Once your store is online (or if it already is), we will include you on the Sparks Street Online Shop which we will begin to promote. This is currently a mock up and not fully functional.
List of Essential Workplaces
On Monday, March 23, the province of Ontario announce the closing of non-essential workplaces. To find out if you are still allowed to open, click on this link of Essential Workplaces.
The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province's recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The province has issued an emergency order to close at-risk workplaces and encourage non-essential businesses to find ways to help their employees work from home. The government also reminded businesses to put in place protocols for physical distancing and regular hand-washing in order to protect the health and safety of employees and the general public.
Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m.―5:00 p.m.
Friday, March 20
As we all respond to COVID-19, it is important that we provide feedback on the support programs that have been quickly created. Below you will find the links to two surveys; one from the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) and one from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). Please take a few minutes to fill them out to provide these organizations with the information they need to support us. The surveys will be active until Monday, Mar 23
Wednesday, March 18
Federal Government Economic Response Plan
The Federal Government announced their program to support Canadians and businesses today with a number of programs. Click Here for Details
Property Tax Deferral
City of Ottawa has announce it is providing property owners more time to pay their interim property tax bills. I have attached the memo from city staff to the Mayor and council.
The interim tax bill is normally due on the third Thursday in March (tomorrow). The program has to be formally approved by full city council which meets next Wednesday, March 25. . If approved, the deferral application will be available online and would extend the interim (March 19) and final (June 18) tax due dates to October 30, 2020. The motion will define the criteria of property owner eligibility.
Mayor Jim Watson tweeted that he hopes landlords use the extra cash flow to help their tenants.
Tuesday, March 17
The Province of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has come out with an updated recommendation with respect to the business community. Ottawa Public Health has accepted the recommendation from the Province that all bars, theatres and entertainment venues should close temporarily, and that restaurants limit their operations to take-out and delivery as of March 18.
Some businesses have been wondering if the insurance will cover them during this event. As these policies can vary, it is recommended that you contact your insurance company and review your policy.
Tuesday, March 17
Personal and Business Asset Protection Checklist
Keep the lights on
Remove ALL cash and receipts
Do not leave any valuable clearly visible or accessible
All safes and till should be emptied and moved off-site for safe storage
Keep all cash drawers open to show that nothing is in the drawers
All ATM's should be emptied and moved off-site for safe storage
All alcohol products removed from the bar and put in secured storage areas (No alcohol should be visible from the outside)
Consider posting "NO CASH OR VALUABLE ON PREMISES" signage
Deactivate all scheduled FOB door openings such as Cleaners, deliveries etc.
Disconnect all kitchen gas lines from their gas source
Make regular site visits to monitor your shop/business and to manage inventory and storage conditions. Consider scattering the times this is done so a pattern is not established.
For further information visit Ottawa Police Services
Monday, March 16
Mayor Conference Call Update
We just received update via conference call with the Mayor, City Staff and representatives of Ottawa Public Health.
Ottawa Public Health will be providing information online tailored to the needs of small business in the next 24-48 hours. We will forward this to you when it is ready. There are many tools and information on their site and I encourage you to take some time and review the available documentation.
At this time, the Chief Medical Officer is not recommending that businesses close, only that you take steps to reduce the risk to you, your staff and your clients. This includes regular washing of surfaces, washing your hands with soap and practicing social distancing. Continue to check their website and social media channels for the latest updates
Tax Measures- The city is looking at the possibility of extending the property tax deadline and will provide us an update in the next 48 hours.
On Friday, March 13th, the city formed the Community Economic Confidence team. This group is working within the City’s Emergency Task Force and will look at ways to support business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mayor has also formed a small group including the Chair of the Ottawa Coalition of BIA’s, President of Ottawa Tourism, and President of the Ottawa Board of Trade, to begin working on marketing and promotional initiatives for when the crisis is over.
Our Provincial organization OBIAA and national organization IDA Canada are also in contact with their counterparts to ensure our businesses are top of mind with our elected officials.
As we receive updates from various levels of government, we will forward them to you as quickly as possible.
The office remains open with reduced staffing this week. Do not hesitate to contract us if you have any questions.
Statement from Mayor Watson following a call with leaders of Ottawa’s business community:
‘’Through these very challenging times, we must come together to find ways to support Ottawa’s small businesses, restaurants, tourism operators and special events – as well as their employees, who are all hurting deeply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a call with the heads of BIAs, the Ottawa Board of Trade, le Regroupement des gens d’affaires, Ottawa Tourism and Ottawa Festival Network, I have struck an Economic Partners Task Force, which I will co-chair with Councillor El-Chantiry, a former small business owner and the Mayor’s representative with BIAs. The Task Force will advise our staff in many departments on how the City can help the business community as the pandemic evolves.
Ottawa is fortunate to have a number of proactive and credible business organizations who will be valued partners and contributors in these efforts. The Economic Partners Task Force will be composed of the following leaders of our business community:
Mark Kaluski, Chair, Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs)
Sueling Ching, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade
Lise Sarazin, directrice générale, Regroupement des gens d’affaires (RGA)
Michael Crockatt, President and CEO, Ottawa Tourism
Carole Anne Piccinin, Executive Director, Ottawa Festival Network
City staff are currently assessing ways the City can help small business owners get through this crisis. The Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development team will be leading this initiative and working with the Task Force to maintain open lines of communication, as well as assess and roll-out a number of measures to support locally-owned shops and restaurants.
For its part, Finance is evaluating if the City is in a position to enact tax deferral measures that would help some small businesses manage their cash flow and payroll obligations.
The City of Ottawa is committed to working with all its economic development partners over the coming weeks, as we help support our restaurants and small business owners get through this pandemic. We will also be there to help with the economic recovery once our community overcomes these challenging times for all.’’
Friday, March 13
COVID-19 Update from Sparks Street
As you are aware, the COVID-19 situation is a dynamic and quickly changing situation. To stay up to date with how this pandemic is affecting the Ottawa area, we recommend you follow the advice and instructions being provided by Ottawa Public Health. They have prepared some business oriented resources and can be found in the message below.
The Ottawa Coalition of BIA’s is scheduled to have a conference call with city officials on Monday, March 16. We will report any updates back to you after the call.
If operations at your business are affected (reduced hours, etc.), please let us know.
How you can prevent the spread of germs
To reduce the spread of germs including the flu and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) we recommend that you:
Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just cleaned your hands
Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand
If possible, stay home if you are sick
Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
It is still recommended to get your flu shot if you haven’t already, as the flu virus is still circulating in the community
Consider social distancing (ideally 2 metres)
For more information, please visit Ottawa Public Health