CENTRAL MANITOULIN – Community Development Officer Marcus Mohr has had his hands full over the past few weeks as he collates and digests the concerns and issues being reported by businesses in the Municipality of Central Manitoulin. That date is coming into his office courtesy of a business survey the municipality has been conducting over the past few weeks through two related online polls.
The purpose of the business survey is to help inform the Central Manitoulin council in making decisions that could impact businesses and employers in the communities served by the municipality.
“We had the first survey carried out in the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic in February-March,” said Mr. Mohr. “We wanted to get an idea of how the business community is doing; what losses they might be experiencing.”
The current situation is basically unprecedented, he noted. “We do not know generally what our economy is going to look like,” he said. “What sort of measures can we put in to plan for mitigation.”
The second poll, said Mr. Mohr, is seeking more up to date information for the month of April. “We are asking them to compare numbers from this time last year to give us a better idea of what the impact has been so far.” The second poll will wind up at the end of May in order to provide the time necessary to pull the data together to ensure the information gleaned is as accurate as possible.
Mr. Mohr said that the surveys are completely anonymous to shield any concerns about proprietary business information. “Not even the IP addresses are recorded,” he assured The Expositor. “We need to be able to get the best information we can.”
As the data is collated, reports are being sent to the mayor and council to help inform their decisions.
The municipality is not making any of the results of the business survey public, said Mr. Mohr. “This is being gathered for policy formulation purposes,” he shared. He noted such policies might entail, at the discretion of council, such measures as tax deferrals and other measures that have been instituted in other jurisdictions.
He did note that the initial survey had captured a sense of optimism that the economy would be opening up soon, a projection that has not played out as quickly as those hopes had held out. Not many businesses were saying they were in imminent danger of closing their doors permanently.
“A lot have been taking advantage of the programs that are out there,” said Mr. Mohr.
“The surveys are really just to give us a base idea of what the business community is facing out there,” he said, “and lots of questions of ‘what do you need from us?’”
A link to the survey can be found www.CentralManitoulin.ca/news/central-manitoulin-covid-19-business-impact-survey-april-2020.