– Catherine Holt is the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at 250.383.7191, [email protected].

GREATER VICTORIA – Do you have a plan for what to do with your business in case of natural disaster? The state of emergency due to wildfires this summer has had a huge impact on many businesses in Interior communities.

It’s a good reminder that every business owner needs to plan now for how best to shut down in the event of a natural disaster and first-hand insight into the wide range of issues you may face in trying to reopen.

Saving your business from the consequences of an earthquake, flood or fire is critical not just to you and your employees, but to restoring a community. When I was on a tour of Fort McMurray last fall, we heard that re-opening businesses as quickly as possible after their wildfire was essential for people to function (groceries, pharmacies, banks) and to feel their community still existed (coffee shops and restaurants, hair stylists and barbers, clothing and entertainment).

Adam Legge, CEO, Calgary Chamber of Commerce documented the steps their chamber took to help businesses during and following the 2013 flooding disaster. They were learning as they went and published their experience to help others be more prepared.

His fascinating and informative report “Calgary’s Flood Recovery Story – The Business Perspective” is applicable to any place that could face a natural disaster – which is any place. Find it at the following link. It’s the first thing you should read to get a full picture of what happens during and after such an event.

The British Columbia Economic Development Association (BCEDA) has a simple and sensible “Top 10 Steps to Prepare Your Business for Evacuation.” If you have this list already at your fingertips you’ll be able to get through the initial panic.

The BCEDA has also set up an “Economic Disaster Recovery Page” with a link to “The Recovery and Resiliency Roadmap – a Toolkit for Economic Preparedness” which has detailed information on many aspects of preparing for and recovering from a natural disaster.

The Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC) and PreparedBC, along with other tourism partners, created an very useful guide especially for those who may have to take care of customers or visitors during an emergency.

They also designed a practical template and checklist that you can print, fill out and keep handy.

All of this preparation can help you minimize the physical and financial impact on your business, but being aware of the emotional toll is equally important. It’s discussed in the Calgary report and the following interview with Timber Mart 100 Mile/Lone Butte Supply Ltd. president Mike Anderson captures the distress and chaos.

Take one thing off your to do list and get your business ready for the unthinkable. Read these reports and get your checklist completed. Just like having an emergency kit in your home, you don’t want to need it but one day you may be very thankful you have it.

Upcoming Events:

  • Thursday, Sept 7 | Summer Social Series: Harvest Dinner | 6-8:30PM @Woodwynn Farms (7789 W. Saanich Rd.)
  • Thursday, Sept 14 | Prodigy Group Mingle | 5-7PM @ Bay Centre (4th Floor – 1150 Douglas St.)
  • Tuesday, Sept 19 | Industry Tour: Point Hope Maritime | Point Hope Maritime (345 Harbour Rd.)
  • Thursday, Sept 21 | Business Joint Mixer with the Saanich Peninsula, WestShore and Sooke Chambers | 5-7PM @ Camosun College (4461 Interurban Rd.)