Sackville’s Chief Administrative Officer says local business owners are talking with the town about establishing an economic recovery fund to help them cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Monday night’s online town council meeting, Jamie Burke said the town has been holding weekly check-ins with local business operators to discuss the effects of the provincial state of emergency that has required many businesses to close temporarily.
“These are extremely tough times,” Burke said. “I can’t stress this enough for the local business community.”
He added that aside from establishing “some type of economic recovery fund,” business owners have also expressed interest in the town pursuing a variety of economic development initiatives.
“One example would be a kind of virtual or interactive Sackville shopping map and shopping of course being more than just retail,” Burke said, suggesting that such a map could also focus on other things such as food and restaurant services.
Both Burke and Mayor John Higham mentioned holding a special town council meeting to discuss economic recovery efforts.
Higham said he and town staff have been working with Mount Allison University to help recruit as many students as possible in the coming year.
Burke said attracting students will be crucial.
“Obviously student recruitment has economic benefits for us as a municipality and when the university is healthy, our community is healthy,” he added.
Meantime, Mt. A. President Jean-Paul Boudreau has announced that the university is planning to offer students the flexibility to take courses online during the fall term as well as return, if they wish, to study on campus.
“Remember that Mount Allison is a residential-based campus community,” Boudreau explained Tuesday during a CBC Radio interview.
“We’re a small community and our campus is blessed with over one million square feet of space for academic residence and administrative functions, so we can more than meet the needs and the guidelines for physical distancing on campus,” Boudreau added.