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Downtown Winnipeg BIZ: Memo - The latest information for BIZ Members

Dear Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Member,

Four weeks into our new reality, I want to thank each of you for your efforts. Our Downtown community has come together to navigate COVID-19 and I have seen incredible examples of collaboration and support through these first few weeks.

Our team at the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is trying to do our part. We’re keeping an eye on your business and we’re working on new ways to support you through this time. I look forward to sharing some of our ‘support local’ ideas with you soon. Our team is helping out however we can and no job is too big or small. We’re even ‘babysitting’ a pet fish for a business that had to close. He’s become an important part of our team! I hope you all find some time to rest and enjoy family from an appropriately safe distance this weekend.

Here are some important updates from the week:

‘Operation Safe Apart’ Enforcement Strategy Effective Immediately

The Manitoba government and City of Winnipeg are working in collaboration on an ‘Operation Safe Apart’ pandemic public health enforcement strategy. It includes new pre-set fines for individuals or business owners who disregard the public health order.

Effective immediately, fine amounts for breaching these emergency orders will be set at 486 dollars for individuals and 2,542 dollars for businesses.

No Cost Webinar: Q&A with Mayor Brian Bowman and EDW’s Dayna Spiring on COVID-19

Join us next Thursday for an engaging video chat and audience Q&A with Mayor Brian Bowman and Dayna Spiring, President & CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg. Hosted by Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO Kate Fenske and Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce President Loren Remillard, we’ll learn more about the Mayor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force and discuss the impacts of the pandemic on our business community and possible measures to mitigate.

The webinar is taking place Thursday, April 16 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m Register here.

If you are unable to join the webinar live but have a question, please submit it to

Downtown is Going Blue for the Brave

Blue for the Brave is a community initiative to shine a spotlight and show support for the dedicated health care workers on the frontlines trying to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is encouraging businesses to unite together by lighting up our downtown in support of the Blue for the Brave initiative.

Business and property owners are encouraged to light up buildings with blue lights, swapping out an exterior light bulb for a blue one, adding blue Christmas lights to a storefront or featuring blue in another way that works for you.

If you are able to support this initiative and have added blue to your business, please let us know so we can highlight your support: or 204-958-4640.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Updated but Not Yet Available For Applications

The federal government has made updates to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Applications are not yet open but below are more details about eligibility.

  • 75-per-cent wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

  • Eligible employers would include individuals, taxable corporations, partnerships consisting of eligible employers, non-profit organizations and registered charities.

  • Available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 15 per cent of their revenue in March 2020 and 30 per cent for the following months.

  • Applies at a rate of 75 per cent of the first 58,700 dollars normally earned by employees –up to 847 dollars per week, per employee.

  • Government is also proposing that employers eligible for the benefit be entitled to receive a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer-paid contributions to Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan.

  • Employers will have to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm’s-length revenues and remuneration paid to employees.

Downtown Winnipeg BIZ joins IDA Canada Calling on Federal Government for Increased Support

International Downtown Association (IDA) Canada is advocating the federal government for more supports for downtown businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The IDA is requesting that the government assist downtown businesses with cash infusions, work more closely with major lending institutions to ease pressures felt by businesses, and assist with landlords’ commercial mortgage obligations and the development of a landlord support program where costs are shared by the tenant, landlord and two levels of government.

Additionally, we are asking for the government to have specific strategies to prioritize downtowns and key commercial districts in their economic recovery plans.

View the letter (PDF)

New Resource Helps Businesses During COVID-19

In partnership with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce established the Canadian Business Resilience Network to help Canadian businesses navigate the COVID-19 reality and prepare for recovery.

The website includes information related to containment measures, business continuity, business support and recovery planning.

Business Continuity and Crisis Recovery Webinar Summary and Tips

On Monday, March 30, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ hosted a business continuity and crisis recovery webinar with panelists Jason Shaw, Josée Lemoine and Sachit Mehra. The webinar recording is here and here is a webinar summary with tips.

Downtown Streets Renewal Project Commencing Mid-May

The City of Winnipeg is continuing with the planned construction schedule for the Downtown Streets Renewal Project, a five-year project beginning this spring.

2020 construction will begin in mid-May and will include the following locations and estimated timelines:

  • Fort Street between Broadway and Graham Avenue: May-September 2020

  • Hargrave Street between Portage Avenue and Ellice Avenue: May-July 2020

  • Portage Avenue between Memorial Boulevard and Fort Street: July-August 2020

  • Carlton Street between Portage Avenue and Ellice Avenue: August 2020, inclusive

For more information, please see preliminary construction notice (PDF) and the Downtown Streets Renewal Project website.

As always, please don't hesitate to reach us:

Thank you,

Kate Fenske, CEO
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ