Backroads Brewing Company co-owner Brent Malysh is among hundreds of B.C. pub and restaurant owners hoping for the quick go-ahead to build patios again next year. Photo: Darren Davidson

Backroads Brewing Company co-owner Brent Malysh is among hundreds of B.C. pub and restaurant owners hoping for the quick go-ahead to build patios again next year. Photo: Darren Davidson

BUSINESS BUZZ: Pints, patios and politics

Darren Davidson on all the latest local business happenings

by Darren Davidson

What a month it’s been, in business and beyond, since August’s column. In addition to a $650-million election, B.C. entrepreneurs and customers grappled with the rapid implementation of the province’s vaccine card.

This past Monday was the last day to use the wallet-sized card folks received after their actual vaccinations to enter venues and events requiring proof of shots. You’ll need your electronic version, or specially requested hard copies, from here on in. Another important date: Sunday, Oct. 24. If you haven’t got proof of two shots by then you won’t be allowed in to some businesses and get-togethers.

In an effort to measure and address the pandemic’s heavy toll on small business, the Nelson Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures’ Business Recovery Advisor effort has been in touch with over 150 shops and stores.

Over 50 COVID-impact surveys have been returned. The biggest worries headed into the rest of fall and winter include: a shortage of labour and affordable housing for workers, rising wage expectations, restrictive work visa and international border slowdowns, inevitable tax increases due to provincial and national debt, staff and manager mental health and the stunning climate change impacts we saw with the summer’s heat dome temps and wildfires.

Take 10 minutes to share your confidential feedback on the pandemic’s impact on your business. Your feedback will help the Chamber advocate with all levels of government to shore up their assistance programs and get the economy back on track — www.surveymonkey.com/r/CGQP758.

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Canada’s food and beverage sector had 129,000 unfilled jobs earlier this summer, and trends are showing that many of the businesses’ past employees don’t want their old jobs back.

There’s added pressure on local pubs and eateries — some need approval on patios for next year within the next month, so that the province can process liquor licences for summer 2022. The province is saying that could take eight months, as there are now thousands of new temporary patios across B.C. The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, which held a meeting with local hospitality venue operators a few weeks ago, is lobbying City Hall to approve patios for next summer.

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Congrats are due to two long-time Nelson worker bees, both of whom have decided to buzz onwards…

Al McLeod is leaving the Nelson Brewing Company after 23 of the beer-maker’s 30 years. When the amiable sales fella started under previous manager and main shareholder Tim Pollock, the B.C. Craft Beer Association had nine member breweries. Now there are over 200.

“When I started the first week,” McLeod recalls, “I sold seven kegs of beer to Dave and Sheila Martin at the Hume Hotel and considered that a great week of sales.”

A couple weeks back The Hume sold 21 NBC kegs. In the middle of a pandemic. That shows the relevance of the craft beer market in town, and across the land, McLeod says.

“Al’s contributions over the past 25 years have been integral to the success of Nelson Brewing Company,” says Kate Walker, who along with husband and former NHLer Matt have owned NBC for the last five years. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without his efforts over the years to convert customers into loyal craft beer drinkers.”

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After 12 formidable years as constituency assistant to both veteran NDP MLA Michelle Mungall and up-and-comer Brittny Anderson, Laurie Langille is headed for the world of academia.

Langille has been with Mungall since she first took office for Nelson-Creston constituents in 2009. Mungall went from critic for advanced education all the way to heavyweight portfolios including Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources and then Minister for Jobs, Trade and Economic Development. Langille was at her side for many successes, battles and losses. Politics nowadays seems an endless brawl. Imagine being in the ring. Criticism ranges from entirely valid to utterly brainless and hateful, 24-7.

“Constituency assistants are at the front line when it comes to people coming in upset, concerned and outright angry with government policy and direction,” says Langille, recalling the great Jumbo Valley battle as a first victory.

“It’s been incredibly interesting and educational.”

Langille says that working to resolve issues and create positive experiences for constituents can be extremely rewarding.

“But the amount of emotional labour that it requires can be unbelievably exhausting. Especially over the last year and half with the pandemic.”

Mungall says Langille is without doubt “an unsung hero in the community.”

She’s moving on to Selkirk College to work with the vice president of students and advancement.

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B.C. Interior mills owned by Interfor, Canfor and West Fraser Timber have reportedly reduced their outputs by between five and 20 per cent. The scale-back is due to a slow down in weekend warrior renos and a slight downturn in new construction. Lumber yard prices that were budget-battering a few months ago, have simmered closer to normal.

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Here’s a market trend that’s garnered the attention of shaky investors: cannabis sector analysts are warning of job losses and pot operation closures over the next few quarters among big players in the industry.

Nanaimo’s Tilray Inc. and Edmonton’s Aurora Cannabis are shutting production plants and cutting payroll as they struggle to hang on to their customers and cultivate at the rate they’d planned. It’s an easier row to hoe for more nimble, smaller players, but still an industry in the midst of major growing pains, pun intended but true.

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In its first week of sales, Deane Terrace, slated for the site of the old Nelson Daily News building, has sold three of 10 high-end residential units. RBC Dominion Securities is opening up an office in the building soon. The investment advisors haven’t had a brick-and-mortar in town for a number of years.

Want to invest local? If you’re interested in becoming a director of the West Kootenay Boundary Community Investment Co-op, or sitting in on the AGM to learn more, there’s a half-hour Zoom AGM Thursday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. Click on www.wkbinvestmentcoop.com for the link.