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Lifeline grants help small businesses, including Port Hardy hotel, weather COVID-19 storm

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Salesforce have thrown a lifeline to small businesses across Canada.

They did that by divvying out $10,000 lifeline grants to small businesses across Canada in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

One of the 62 grant recipients was Port Hardy’s Kwa’lilas Hotel. 

A Vancouver Island Hotel is one of 62 small businesses that have been thrown a pandemic life-line. 

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Port Hardy’s Kwa’lila Hotel received $10,000 in grant money, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the business software company Salesforce.

General manager Enrique Toledo said the funds made the opening of a First Nation-themed cafe at the hotel possible.

He added that the hotel also invested in protocols to keep staff and guests safe from the virus.

“That’s another piece,” Toledo explained. “With COVID, we had to train ourselves how to react with housekeeping. W, we also needed to get some purifiers for the rooms, and training on how to process the laundry.”

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Overall, Toledo said the pandemic has changed the way they do things.

“Challenging, because we had to change our focus and our vision,” he said. “Also, with the (physical) distancing, we opened a patio in order to keep our numbers and the financial accountability that we have. We also had two pool tables for many, many years in the pub and we removed them in order to allow more seating.” 

Toledo says border restrictions have changed the hospitality landscape, with a major focus on staying close to home.

“We need to refocus on locals, communities around us,” he said. “We know that international travel is not going to regain maybee in the next two  years, so we are factoring that in.”

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As a result, Toledo says they are expanding their marine business and looking into refurbishing and changing their other hotel, the Pier Side Landing, in doing something completely different: “A cultural centre to expand the knowledge of the First Nations, the language, the poetry, the art.” 

Looking into the fall, the hotel has had to shorten its restaurant hours knowing that locals don’t have the budget to dine out all the time.

They’re also looking to launch a farmers’ market inside the pub on Sundays.


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