Protest hurting local businesses

  • Apr. 15, 2005 6:00 a.m.

Islanders are still eating, but they’re not buying as much since the ‘spirit rising’ protest started April 22.
Delina Petit Pas Myles of Myles from Nowhere in Port Clements estimates her business has done only 25-percent of the business she normally does this time of year. “This is not good,” she said. She wants to remain neutral about the blockades, but she does see families in Port Clements being impacted, with three men leaving last week for work off islands. “We have to move forward and do things better,” she said, but she feels sad for the families affected.
Bernie Howlett of Howler’s bistro, pub and beer and wine store in Queen Charlotte said last week was the worst he’s seen in twenty years. He estimates business dropped 40-percent that week. However, he’s hopeful tourists will soon arrive to make up for the loss of local business.
Grocery stores at both ends of the islands have noticed a decline in sales.
“Next week will be when we rally get an indication how bad it’s going to be,” said Richard Clarmont, general manager of Delmas Coop in Masset. He estimates sales are down 10-percent compared to last year during the last three weeks. Until a month ago, sales had always been better than the previous year. He doesn’t think the number of people shopping at the coop has dropped, but he does think people are shopping more carefully.
At City Centre in Queen Charlotte, Richard Funk also notices “a big impact”. This tends to be a slow time of year anyway, he said, and it’s hard to say how much of the decline is related to the blockade. However, things have slowed, and it makes it difficult for ordering.
Some businesses haven’t been affected as much by the blockade.
At the Island Sunrise Café, formerly Marg’s, in Masset, owner Deb Taggart hasn’t noticed much difference in sales or number of customers. She estimates she serves breakfast and lunch to an average of 60 people per day, mostly local people who aren’t employed in the logging industry.
At Aaron Mark Services in Queen Charlotte which is also known as K & K Carpet, owner Linda Goetzinger said she has noticed some drop in business lately, but she’s not sure it’s because of the protest. The demand for building materials is cyclical, and other factors can impact the business like the number of housing starts and renovations.
Services like the transition house and the Women’s Society sometimes get busier during stressful times, but that hasn’t been the case so far. There hasn’t been an increase in the requests for services at the centre, said administrator Deborah Pearson. And the food bank has been less busy, said the transitions house’s executive director Brenda Byberg.
“If people started to have difficulty, it would take more than a month for us to know. It would take some time before people would be utilising the food bank, I think,” said Ms Byberg.
However, she wanted people to know that it is available, and deliveries can be arranged by calling 1877-626-4677. Anyone who wants to donate to the food bank can send a cheque to Greater Masset Food Bank, Box 811, Masset, V0T 1M0.

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