Transcription – English – Lyndie Hill

05. Lyndie Hill.mp4: Video automatically transcribed by Sonix

05. Lyndie Hill.mp4: this mp4 video file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Lyndie Hill:
Well, I was asked to be here as well today. I have a tourism and outdoor education based business. We have five parts to our business. We have an indoor climbing gym. We do large scale annual events. So for hundreds of people that happen sort of once a year, we do youth programs, corporate events and adventure tourism tours, rentals, shuttles, that kind of thing. There wasn't a single part of my business that was left unscathed by the pandemic. We had gone through three years of forest fires and floods in the area here, and in 2019 we actually had a year without forest fires and floods and we had a really great year and 2020 we were on the projection to have like our best year yet and finally had some debts paid off after we've been in business for 15 years. We are a small family run business, but of course that all came to a crashing halt in March. Within three days I lost about $60,000 worth of business and we were processing refunds. We were just. Just trying to figure out how we were going to make it through. We had a 95% loss in the first quarter of the year and then we're still at a 60% loss from our business from where we were pre-pandemic. Definitely are surviving adversity before a pandemic helped us survive adversity through a pandemic. We had learned a lot of things in ways to cut back beforehand that we used in this situation, but something that had really started to stand out quite quickly after we got through the immediate what are we dealing with? Agreeing that shutting down for a couple of weeks maybe to assess the situation was just how nonsensical a lot of the rules were.

Lyndie Hill:
And because we were dealing with different aspects with our gym, we were only allowed six people in there at a time. We were the first operators because schools had been shut down to run camps. Nobody else ran any kind of youth summer camp. And we we knew that the mental health of our community, because we are very involved in our community, was just plummeting and that parents needed a place to put their kids and kids needed something to do and be outside. So we were the first ones to offer a camp in 2020 trying to follow the rules and social distance kids is like not it's not a thing, but just the general rules. For instance, in our climbing gym, if you came in as an individual, we were allowed to have six people in there. And in the end also everybody needed to have their vaccine. Passport. If you came in as a group of 25 people, you could jam in there and you did not need to. And we are we have a small climbing gym. You did not need to have a vaccine passport. So under a certain age. So there was a lot of really big red flags for some of our events. We hosted a festival and we kept the individual parts of the festival. It was basically skills courses down to 50 people, which we were allowed. We were told we were not allowed to have a festival, so we changed the name of it to skills courses and events and we didn't change anything in the event and we were all of a sudden allowed to run it.

Lyndie Hill:
So there was a lot of things where I was spending my entire day instead of working on my business, trying to figure out how to work with the restrictions and. Direct a staff on what to do. I would have to say. You know, we did our best to to just adapt in every place that we could. We took the wage subsidies, we took the rent subsidy, we took the loans. I would say our financial loss would be between $1,000,002 million. I would say that our debt that we would not have had if the pandemic had not hit would be in the $200,000 area we've had to take. We've had to take mortgage against our house. It's been a lot. Yeah, but we're here. And I've also struggled with the vaccine passport situation myself because we deal with kids. I would have to say yes to one kid to come in and have a healthy activity with their friends and know to another kid. And that's something that I was never willing to do. So I'm also part of the Penticton Chamber of Commerce. So I am not speaking on their behalf by any means. And I but I am a part of that organization. So I have also seen the business impact. I'm also part of many tourism organizations here locally and regionally. So I've seen the impact on many, many businesses from. The entire region. And and and it's not just we're a community company. It's not just the business impact. It is the mental weight that everybody's carrying and. And that that can be measured by dollars, you know. So, yeah.

Trish Wood:
What is the mental weight caused by you? You separated it from financial losses. So what does that caused by, if you can say?

Lyndie Hill:
Well, I think I mean, the clearly the segregation that had happened for many people and even if you were vaccinated or it that's lingering in the air, you know, I mean, the isolation, the not being the fear, the 100% fear in your face all of the time, the media telling you to be afraid. The daily terror tally of how many people have COVID and, you know, and feeling like even when you're walking around and seeing everybody wearing masks, you know, it's you cannot escape it. It is it was there was no way to there's no way to get away from it. And there's no way it couldn't affect somebody. It's impossible.

Trish Wood:
Okay. I'll turn to the panel now, please.

Preston Manning:
Well, thank you for sharing this. I think your experience has been experienced by thousands and thousands of small businesses across the country. So I'd ask you the same question I've asked others. Was there any acknowledgement by the provincial government, by your MLA, by the city government, by a department of Government, of the impacts which these health protection regulations were having on your business? Not not just as you say, financially, but in other respects. Was there any acknowledgement of that and an offer of some kind of response?

Lyndie Hill:
No. And further to that, I'm I do have a voice at the table at my organisations and one of them asking the question to we do have people who present like at our chamber board meetings from the school district and from different areas in the city, police departments and things like that. And often I would ask the question of what is what is being done to address the damages that have been done? And to this day the answer is essentially, oh, we either were discussing a program for that, but essentially the answer is no, there is no, there is nothing being done. There is no there's no forethought. This is all a reactive thing. There is no proactive. You know. Anything to sort of address everything that's happened in the last couple of years. I feel like in the most part, people are just saying, oh, we're glad that's over and brushing everything under the rug.

Preston Manning:
Okay. Thank you.

David Ross:
Thank you, Linda, very much. You've very eloquently and succinctly describe the situation of a lot of Canadian small businesses. As I should say, you're here. Your predecessor, Josh, did as well. So what would be your recommendations for the future to avoid this? What would be the the the two or three biggest things to avoid this kind of catastrophe? Not not just not just for I guess I'll focus it in on on the on the on the small business side. I mean, obviously, it affects all aspects of society, but let's just focus in on small business in Canada.

Lyndie Hill:
So I think that one of the things that happened was there was blanket rules. There was blanket rules for industry. So. For example, our climbing gym was lumped in with a gym and we are not a gym. It's much different to a gym. Our events are outdoors, but we were lumped in with conferences. So even though conferences have hundreds, if not thousands of people inside and I could understand the concern there. We are outside. We and we are only small groups of people and where our race courses are over hundreds of kilometres. So people are very spread out. So but we got blanketed under under rules all the time. And I do understand that it's impossible to know the ins and outs of every industry, but it seemed to be a pretty common problem that businesses were struggling, small businesses were struggling because they were being blanketed with rules for a general industry. So that just if it was a health situation where things needed to be looked at, I would say having committees for smaller groups, we had an association for climbing gyms that should have been something that was as a group of all the climbing gyms around North America. You know, being speaking to that group in itself. So that's a place where feedback can be found. I mean, obviously, in general, we knew early on where who is being affected. In the pandemic as far as the virus went. So, I mean, there was a lot of things that could have been done to say, okay, let's protect those people that are most by this and and figure out how we can allow businesses to to survive financially. The wage subsidy and the rent subsidies were helpful.

Lyndie Hill:
Of course they were. But no business wants to be a drain on their on their government and on their society. And and nobody wanted to take that money. You know, we all took it because we had to to keep our doors open. But even the loans, I mean, they expect us to start paying off these loans to get any money back in return. So if you if you borrowed 60, you get 20 for free. Well, what business and the entire planet that doesn't have deep pockets. And if you were in that case, you wouldn't have taken the money in the first place. Can afford to save up enough money to to pay the 40,000 back right away so that they get the 20 for free. Nobody's going to be able to do that. That's in my shoes. And no bank is going to touch us because of the whole situation that's just going on. And in all honesty, most of us have borrowed above and beyond the $60,000 anyways just to keep our doors open when we did not need to do that. If we were not in a pandemic, Josh would not have closed his doors. If we were not in a pandemic, I would not have borrowed that money if we were not in a pandemic. So, you know, looking at that side of the that cost and then, of course, actually understanding the mental. You know, the mental health issues that this has created in a community. And looking big picture, no one was looking big picture. Nobody was thinking about the future and holistically planning for the health of our community holistically. It was not happening and that is something that needs to be looked at.

David Ross:
Okay. Thank you very much. You know, I'm getting the sense that that that the whole thing was was a reaction that there was that if there were plans, they were discarded or ignored. And I guess that's a topic for another another speaker and another day. But thanks very much. Certainly wish you all the best and know you're not out of it yet. But anyway, salute your your your tenacity.

Lyndie Hill:
Thank you.

Trish Wood:
Thanks, Lindsey. Bye bye.

Lyndie Hill:
Thank you.

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