Lyndie Hill, in Penticton, BC, has a business focused on adventure tourism and a gym camp. After years of forest fires and floods, 2020 was due to be her best year yet—but it all came to a crashing halt. Within the first three days of the lockdown, she lost $60,000 worth of business, and a 95% loss of business through the first quarter of the following year, and overall a 60% loss of business to date. So many of the rules were utterly nonsensical. She saw mental health in her community crumble. Parents had no place for their children, since her summer camp was restricted. She had to work under capacity limits, social distancing, and then “vaccine passports” for her indoor gym. She was instructed she would not be allowed to host a planned festival (which was just skills courses and events), so she changed the name to “Skills Courses and Events,” and it was then allowed. She took wage subsidies, loans, etc., and still had to mortgage her house to continue. The “vaccine passport” issue was particularly loathsome, especially when having to turn away kids. As a member of the Penticton Chamber of Commerce, she has seen the damaging impacts on many businesses from the entire region. In her field of tourism, the impacts have been severe.
The segregation, the isolation, the 100% fear “in your face, all the time,” the “daily terror tally” of how many people have Covid, everyone walking around in masks—there was no way of getting away from it all. She observed how this had an awful impact on everyone.
In response to questions from the panel, on whether the government asked for any impact assessment from her, she said simply: “No”. In the various school boards and community bodies to which she belongs, she regularly asked if anything was being done to redress all the negative impacts of the restrictions—and essentially nothing is being done. Now that “it’s all over,” as many seem to think, “everything is just being brushed under the rug” and the damage is being ignored. Her business was a kind of hybrid gym and tourism business, and government one-size-fits-all approaches, the blanket policies, placed an undue burden. They are expected to immediately repay government loans, and no private banks will touch them, especially now in this financial crisis. “No one was looking ‘big picture’ and planning for the health of our community, holistically”.