The City of Delta's pandemic response focused on public safety and community economic well-being. The economic response required a variety of new initiatives and close partnerships with the local business community. These efforts included:
- Established Delta's Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support team comprising the City of Delta, Delta Chamber of Commerce, Ladner Business Association, North Delta Business Association, Tourism Delta, and Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association
- COVID-19 resource hub to provide policy support and research for local businesses.
- A unified brand for the local business community to leverage called "We Love Delta".
- The Street FUN-iture Program, which activated public spaces in key locations with pop-up parks and outdoor reading rooms, bringing vibrancy and fun outdoors and in close proximity to local businesses.
- Delta's Hospitality Adjustment Plan, which is a simplified and streamlined process for restaurants and cafes to utilize public space for patios.
- Collaboration and the Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team
The impact of the City of Delta's pandemic response has been far-reaching and enduring for local businesses. The strong, regular connection created by the Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team has provided for success of the initiatives that have been part of this project while also ensuring that the local business community has a forum through which to engage the City on issues of mutual interest and concern. This connection and the partnerships created transcend the City's pandemic response and offer the promise of a positive, united future for all stakeholders.
Since its inception, the Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team worked collaboratively to develop community resilience and implement economic recovery actions that support Delta businesses, community organizations and the residents of Delta. This effective and intensive collaboration means that the whole can deliver much more than the sum of the individual parts. Each member supplements and amplifies the efforts of the others so that each member and all members can deliver maximum benefits to the stakeholders they serve.
One of the benefits to working together as the Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team has been the immense idea generation that occurs. The team doesn't just consult with the stakeholders, but has been able to quickly and efficiently brainstorm ideas and bring them to life with minimum red tape and very effective coordination among the team.
Vibrancy and Activating Public Spaces
Delta's Hospitality Adjustment Plan resulted in more than 20 restaurants and cafes establishing patios throughout Delta in 2020 and 2021. Most of these have become regular fixtures in the community, allowing people to eat outside during nice weather and activating the public space by adding vibrancy.
In conjunction with Delta's Hospitality Adjustment Plan, the city further sought to activate the City's business communities by creating activity centres, which allow for additional nightlife, which supports local businesses. These activity centres were created by amending the noise bylaw to allow for longer hours during which noise can occur in specific areas of the City, namely commercial areas with restaurants participating in the Hospitality Adjustment Plan with the establishment of patios. These activity centres and patios have endured beyond the pandemic to add vibrancy and extend the hours for restaurants and cafes to add fun to the community.
The Street FUN-iture Program has also enhanced vibrancy in Delta's commercial centres by bringing people into the business cores of the community to participate in a variety of fun opportunities such as bocce and miniature golf. The Street FUN-iture Program has been supported nearby businesses who choose to engage with the additional people in the area. Particularly during the early stages of the pandemic, when indoor gathering was forbidden or discouraged, activating the business communities of Delta through the outdoors was an effective way to add value to the space and support local businesses.
While we all hope not to have to respond to another global public health crisis, the City of Delta's response to the COVID-19 pandemic endures in a post-pandemic environment. For example, the Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team governance model continues to function effectively and is recommended as a promising practice for other communities to follow.
The Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team model is particularly effective if it is led by city staff who can coordinate meetings, provide regular reports to Council, track actions items, conduct research and draft policy letters, coordinate events, and offer individual support to team members.
The Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team was also able to leverage financial support from the City of Delta and other City resources as required (e.g., operations equipment, clerical resources, communications support). This funding is ongoing post-pandemic, which allows the local business organizations to plan for long-lasting programs and positive change, not just respond to the immediate concerns of the pandemic.
The Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team has been approached by several municipalities interested in learning more about how Delta's economic recovery team operates; the team always has time to share insights and lessons learned with its counterparts.
- Shop local initiatives to support main street businesses.
- Placemaking campaigns, events, and installations to connect the community.
- A Dine Around Delta campaign.
- Advocacy through letters of support from Mayor George V. Harvie.
- Funding in the amount of $15,000 each annually for Delta's three local business communities to support lighting, branding, and business development.
In addition to the projects initiated, another enduring outcome of the City of Delta's pandemic response is the enhanced level of connection and partnership between the City and the local business communities. Through the Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team, representatives from the City have worked closely on important issues with leaders from the Delta Chamber of Commerce, Ladner Business Association, North Delta Business Association, Tourism Delta, and Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association.