The Downtown Duncan BIA placed this large Christmas tree on Station Street Park as part of its modified Christmas kick-off celebrations this year. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

The Downtown Duncan BIA placed this large Christmas tree on Station Street Park as part of its modified Christmas kick-off celebrations this year. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: Downtown Duncan BIA kicking off Christmas differently this year

Find out what’s happening in Cowichan’s business community

The Downtown Duncan BIA kicked off the Christmas season a little differently this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The DDBIA had a 12-foot Christmas bulb assembled on the stage in Duncan City Square, and a Christmas tree the height of the adjacent totem pole set up in Station Street Park.

Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA, said the association couldn’t hold its regular Christmas kick-off because of the health crisis, so a decision was made to invest the money into the large ornament and tree.

She said the idea is based on Vancouver’s annual Lumiere event, which is a series of interactive art installations that light up Vancouver during the festive season.

“We’re hoping that on Festive Fridays, in which many businesses downtown will be open late for the Christmas season, people will enjoy their shopping experience that much more with these art installations,” Vance said.

“We’re planning to include the art installations as part of our regular Christmas kick-off ceremonies next year.”

••••

Two businesses in Chemainus owned by the Yeagers were temporarily closed until Dec. 2.

Ward and Kathy Yeager made the difficult decision pertaining to Hansel & Gretel’s Candy Company and Christmas in Chemainus amid rising COVID-19 cases on the Island.

“This decision was out of our safety consideration for our elderly parents whom we are supporting, our staff and our community,” noted Kathy Yeager.

“Case numbers are just getting too close for comfort and we hope a two-week circuit breaker close will assist in bending the curve down.”

Yeager thanked all customers for understanding.

“We appreciate your continued support of our small businesses. Stay safe everyone.”

Hansel & Gretel’s did the same thing previously in March, closing the business at the outset of the pandemic.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a mandatory mask requirement Nov. 19 for all indoor and retail spaces in the province.

••••

Duncan’s Made to Last Custom Homes took the popular People’s Choice Award for its Mountaincalm project at the first online 2020 Construction Achievements and Renovations of Excellence Awards of Vancouver Island, held on Nov. 28.

The 29th annual CARE Awards, sponsored by the Victoria Residential Builders Association. showcased 37 categories this year.

The awards showcase outstanding projects by Canada’s leaders in sustainable West Coast design and construction.

“The CARE Awards represent Canada’s finest West Coast homes and the skilled people behind them,” said Casey Edge, executive director of the VRBA.

••••

Small business leaders issued a dire warning last week that a majority of local businesses may be facing closure if British Columbians don’t make a strong effort to buy local this holiday season.

The ninth annual BC Buy Local Week kicked off on Nov. 30 to encourage consumers to do their holiday spending at locally owned businesses, to keep businesses open after being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Local businesses are just hanging on, and really need our support at this time,” says Amy Robinson, founder and executive director of LOCO BC, which coordinates Buy Local Week in the province.

“Retail sales this year have plummeted, while online shopping with multinationals has soared. BC Buy Local Week is a great time to start shifting your shopping towards local businesses when making your holiday purchases, including buying gifts, gift cards, food or drinks.”

BC Buy Local Week 2020 runs until Dec. 6 and is a partnership of leading B.C. municipalities, business groups and businesses across the province.

Local businesses employ eight times more people per square foot than multinationals, and keep 63 cents of every dollar in the community, creating up to 4.6 times the economic impact over any money spent at a non-local business.

“Local businesses keep our friends and neighbours working, helping the B.C. economy recover more quickly,” said Robinson.

••••

Building permits are beginning to rebound across the Island.

The total value of building permits issued on Vancouver Island during the third quarter of 2020 rebounded to $681.6 million, or 40 per cent above the second quarter of 2020.

This gain came mainly from non-residential permits which rose 252 per cent to $254.5 million with commercial permits jumping 416 per cent to $210.5 million.

Institutional-government permits rose by 66 per cent to $28 million in the quarter, while industrial permits fell 31 per cent.

Residential building permits edged three per cent higher over the second quarter but decreased 13 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2019.

“Interest in communities across the Island has been strong during the last number of years, and despite the coronavirus pandemic, shows signs of continuing,” said Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association.

The Island’s construction rebound was evident in all regional districts and was broadly based in most instances.

The Comox Valley surged 123 per cent, Strathcona was 52 per cent higher and the Capital Regional District saw a 42 per cent jump.

Leading in residential building activity was the Powell River Regional District with a 363 per cent increase, followed by Mount Waddington Regional District with a 216 per cent increase and the Comox Valley Regional District with a 123 per cent increase.

“Smaller communities continue to experience a significant amount of residential building as demand for housing increases,” said Kulmala.

“We suspect retirees are continuing to come here in search of affordable housing options. As well, as more employees in urban areas shift to working from home, rural towns and villages are becoming more popular because of their lower home prices and increased livability.”

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The Downtown Duncan BIA had this 12-foot Christmas bulb assembled in Duncan's City Square as part of its modified Christmas kick-off celebrations this year. (Amanda Vance photo)

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