Supporting CK’s hospitality and tourism sectors

(Photo courtesy of © CanStockPhoto.com/kartinkin)

With damp and chilly autumn weather just around the corner, municipal officials are encouraging residents to get out and support local businesses.

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said he has spoken with some restaurateurs who are considering the use of outdoor heaters to keep patios open for as long as possible. However, it’s only a temporary solution as winter is a few months away.

Indoor dining is a possibility but for at least the next four weeks, restrictions on the number of people allowed inside of a restaurant will not be relaxed. Nor will other health measures as the provincial government and health officials monitor the COVID-19 situation.

Shropshire said efforts by Chatham-Kent Council have been made to try and support local businesses, however, there’s a limit on what they can do to help during this difficult economic time.

“Depending on how long things last and what sort of feedback we’re getting from the community, we might be going back to council to see what we can do,” said Shropshire. “The vast majority of the funding is really coming from the province and the federal government… At the same time, we’re [also] trying to keep our property taxes low.”

Mayor Darrin Canniff said restaurants and businesses are depending on community support.

“As we move into the winter months, yes the patio option will be taken out but take-out will be a big thing. People need to make it a point to get out to restaurants because there’s still ability there,” said Canniff. “Restaurants are a huge part of our community and we collectively need to step up and make sure we make that effort to get out to [them].”

Chatham-Kent Tourism is launching an initiative to support tourism operators during the pandemic.

One aspect of its two-part initiative involves free “CK Tourism Operator Covid-19 Tool Kits.” The kits will contain a face mask, locally produced hand sanitizer, and information about local businesses “to instill confidence in visitors while shopping, dining, staying overnight, or visiting an attraction.”

The free kits will be handed out at contactless pop-up events within the community, starting on September 15. This part of the initiative was funded in part by FedDev Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

Tourism operators can pick-up a free kit at the following locations. Municipal officials are encouraging pre-registration by emailing cktourism@chatham-kent.ca.

– Blenheim Arena – September 15, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
– Wallaceburg Arena – September 16, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
– Chatham Memorial Arena – September 17, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
– Tilbury Arena – September 22, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
– Ridgetown Arena – September 23, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“Not only will the kit offer our employees the safety they need during these times but it also shows our guests coming from abroad that we are taking critical steps in creating a safe environment for everyone that visits Red Barn Brewing Company,” said Denny Vervaet, co-owner of Red Barn Brewing Company.

The other part of the tourism initiative is a marketing campaign called “See You in CK”.

“Rebuilding consumer confidence is an integral part of the tourism industry bouncing back from COVID-19. Visitors want to know that when they visit a destination or attraction that the highest health and safety protocols are being followed,” said TIAO President & CAO Beth Potter. “By championing the ‘Safe Travels Stamp’ and encouraging operators to apply, Chatham-Kent is helping create the conditions for visitors to return with confidence.”

Residents can access travel suggestions, trip starters, and itineraries by visiting the municipal visitck.ca website.