As the flooding situation in Churchill continues to impact residents and businesses, both the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) and the Manitoba Hotel Association (MHA) are urging the Manitoba government to help local businesses facing the unanticipated rising freight costs.
MCC and MHA are urging the Province of Manitoba to develop an emergency fund that can be accessed by local Churchill businesses that can offset the increased costs to businesses in Churchill as a result of increased shipping costs and assist in transportation logistics until rail service is restored.
The intense amount of snow this winter in Churchill and the subsequent melt is causing serious issues to an already challenging rail line, the ability to bring supplies needed, and threatening the tourist season that plays an important part of the economy.
“With the rail line under close to ten feet of water in places, a solution to help those impacted is of the essence,” said MCC President and CEO Chuck Davidson. “We are aware that another flight is being added but the simple fact is small locally owned businesses cannot afford to offset the additional cost of flying larger freight to Churchill, adding to the costs passed on to residents and consumers.”
Added to that concern is the upcoming tourist season. Not only are their guests unable to reach the community by rail, but the hoteliers are also unable to access the goods and services they require to accommodate the visitors who do manage to travel to the community.
“We know that visitors come to Manitoba from all over the world to experience the beluga whale-watching season and that these visitors take their impression of Churchill and Manitoba back home with them,” said MHA President and CEO Scott Jocelyn. “It will be tremendously detrimental not only to the local Churchill business community but also to our entire provincial tourism industry if we cannot provide the necessary supports to the local hotels and other businesses to allow the Churchill travel season to proceed successfully.”
The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, established in 1931, is the umbrella organization for Manitoba’s Chamber movement. With a membership comprised of local Chambers of Commerce as well direct corporate members, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce is Manitoba’s largest and most diverse business lobby, representing 71 local Chambers and close to 10,000 businesses and community leaders.
The Manitoba Hotel Association came into being in 1927 and currently has the majority of the hotels located throughout the Province of Manitoba as its members. The Manitoba Hotel Association has one of the highest membership rates among hotel associations in North America.