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Didsbury council letter to premier outlines COVID costs

Calls on government to take further action to support rural communities hard hit by the crisis

DIDSBURY - Town council has sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney following two recent virtual town halls, outlining the many struggles local businesses and volunteer organizations are facing during the pandemic.

The letter was accompanied by a five-page summary of comments made during the open houses, and calls on the government to take further action to support rural communities hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

“It is our hope that, by sharing their stories with you, our provincial government will continue to consider unique and progressive ways in reopening our province to ensure our greatest community resources – our  volunteers, service organizations, and businesses – are able to do what they best for all those they represent and serve,” Town of Didsbury Mayor Rhonda Hunter said in the letter.

Held in February, the two town halls saw comments delivered by businesses, service organizations and others.

“Our business owners have also faced many  struggles and adversity, economic, emotional, and personal, and they have been challenged to become creative and innovative as their efforts continue to meet with ongoing struggles and challenges just to keep their doors open,” she said.

“Though some businesses thrive during this pandemic, many, many  more do not, and, sadly, some have had to close their doors. Small businesses are the very valued foundation of towns in rural Alberta, and when they suffer, we as a community suffer with them.”

Many local businesses are also facing increased costs of doing business, including the costs of takeout supplies that enable packaging of pick-up and delivery services, she said.

As for local volunteer groups, she said they are also facing unique challenges.

“The loss of fundraising abilities has left some of these groups in financial difficulties that limit or disable operations,” she said.

The letter was carbon copied to Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.