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Thousands of small B.C. businesses still at risk despite short-term eviction ban: retail lobby

Last Updated Jun 1, 2020 at 4:47 pm PDT

FILE - A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

The Retail Council of Canada says the new eviction-protection scheme only goes so far

The provincial coverage only applies to companies eligible for the federal protection program

As many as 10,000 businesses might still face evictions due to the gaps in the coverage

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A retail lobby says thousands of small businesses are in limbo after the province announced a short-term program banning some commercial evictions.

B.C. is pushing commercial landlords to participate in federal rental assistance programs for tenants, telling landlords who don’t apply they lose the right to evict over unpaid rent. The announcement came Monday from Finance Minister Carole James who says data is scarce on how widespread the problem is.

RELATED: B.C. protects small businesses from evictions

“There are certainly some tenants who their landlords have been very clear that they don’t want to bother, they don’t want to take the time to apply for the federal program, and that then hurts the tenant,” she says. “Because the tenant doesn’t have the opportunity to be able to have that relief to help them then be there through the restart to get their business going again.”

While the Retail Council of Canada welcomes the new program, it says the new eviction-protection scheme only goes so far.

Greg Wilson with the council says the coverage only applies to companies eligible for the federal protection program, which includes sales of less than $2 million and rents below $50,000 a month.

“We still have some entities that are a bit bigger than those who are eligible for this small commercial rent program who are also vulnerable. Those are important jobs to protect,” he says.

“There are a lot of small retail businesses, things that you and I would walk down the street and identify that are small that have sales about $2 million, but whose rents are under $50,000.”

Wilson suggests as many as 10,000 businesses might still face evictions due to the gaps in the coverage

The federal program where the landlord and tenant split half the rent and the government pays the rest runs until the end of this month. However, James says the province will extend this eviction protection order if the federal program is extended.