Published On: Tuesday, 01 August 2017

Floods, Fires and Business Continuity

Floods, Fires and Business Continuity

- Dan Rogers is the Executive Director of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. To find out more information about the organization please visit www.kelownachamber.org.

KELOWNA - The fires in BC along with the spring flooding that impacted the Okanagan, certainly and importantly draw our attention to the dedication and many times, to the bravery of those who are charged with responding to those dangerous situations. It should also remind us of the importance of maintaining a vibrant economy through both the crisis and after it subsides.

From week to week, we don’t know what the weather, or the changing fire patterns are bringing us. Chambers of Commerce in many communities are filling an important role in getting information to their members, communities and residents as everyone struggles to stay up-to-date on their local situation.

As far away as Queenstown, New Zealand, and as near as Bend, Oregon, Chambers of Commerce are among the first groups to help spread information during natural disasters.

Closer to home, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce has posted extensive links on their website for all site visitors: links to air quality, emergency services, fire map updates, and resources for evacuees. Emergency Services in Kamloops is set up to host thousands of evacuees: a vital service.

As Adam Legge, the President and CEO with the Calgary Chamber noted in his summary report following the massive floods in Calgary a few years ago, one aspect of emergency preparedness and management that is easy to overlook is business preparedness and continuity.

Immediate needs are for safety, shelter, food and health care. But as a community begins to deal with those issues, there is something that everyone needs to rebuild and recover – that is a job.

How a community responds to businesses affected by natural disasters greatly determines how the business community will recover. There are lots of statistics on business recovery after natural disasters:

The Institute for Business and Home Safety estimates that of businesses affected by natural disaster, 25 per cent never re-open;

The Strategic Research Institute found that of those businesses affected by a natural disaster, 43 per cent never re-open, and of those that do, 29 per cent fail within two years

The Calgary Chamber report suggested that business recovery efforts can be structured around three phases with local chambers playing a major role in partnership with other economic development agencies and government officials:

  • Analyze – the situation and the impacts;
  • Mobilize – information, resources, support to affected business, as well as advocacy to government and media relations; and
  • Energize – getting the business community re-energized with customers and cash flow.

The lessons learned in Calgary and elsewhere will be invaluable as communities in BC look to recover once the flames die down. We can all play a role in ensuring a strong economy first by reminding friends and our networks that aside from the communities directly impacted by the fires, that the rest of beautiful BC remains open for business!

Secondly, once the fires subside, we should all consider visiting the Cariboo in the not-to-distant future. It would be a great way to help many small businesses, particularly those in the tourism sector get back on their feet.

BC: Aftermath of the Spring of Floods

At its July 11 Council meeting, the District of West Kelowna’s Council unanimously agreed to request that the Province of BC conduct a review of all possible factors leading to the flooding and mitigation efforts after this spring’s flooding event.

Among other things, Council is requesting that the review include the timing of the spring freshet in relation to the release of water from the Okanagan Lake system at various dams, the need for additional data collection stations related to weather, snowpack and streamflow, the banning of power boats during times of declared state of emergency and the capacity of municipalities and first nations to respond to emergencies given limited financial resources and authority. The Regional District of the Central Okanagan has also joined in the call for a review.

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Japan Delegation comes for a visit - The Kelowna Chamber is hosting an Agri-Expo on Wednesday August 23 at the Kelowna Golf and Country Club. Check out our website for more information at kelownachamber.org/events. The Kelowna-Kasugai Sister City Association is once again partnering with the Kelowna Chamber to help educate, entertain and exchange business and cultural information.

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Welcome to our newest members - July saw us welcoming more new members. Among our newest businesses are Happipad; Sanga Living; Brandnetic Studios Ltd.; Apple Grove Auto Sales; WestCabs; Airtika Heating & Cooling; Girls Gone Green; Lemonade Bungalow Interiors; Normandeau Window Coverings and Flooring Canada Kelowna. Welcome all!