The Mayor of Quesnel has floated the idea of a festivals relief fund in the wake of Billy Barker Days and now SkyFest in the North Cariboo.

Bob Simpson says he presented the idea to incoming Premier John Horgan yesterday…

“For the organizations that have spend most of their resources, financial resources, on the expense of these festivals only to have the festivals cancelled and not get the revenue from them. These are not for profit organizations that are going to be financially strapped and may not be able to put on these events in the future.”

Simpson says Horgan seemed open to the idea.

While he says the focus right now continues to be on fighting the fires and helping the resident affected by them, Simpson also acknowledges that local businesses will also be impacted….

“In the Quesnel area, because we’re not in an emergent situation, we don’t have an alert or an order, there aren’t the ability for our businesses to kick into business interruption insurance which some of them may have. That is certainly what is happening in 100 Mile House, some of the businesses down there where there is an actual evacuation occurred and their business loss can be accounted to that. Many of them that have been able to get insurance, it will kick in. That is not the case in Quesnel, i don’t believe it will be the case in Williams Lake either.”

He says the best way to combat that is for people to not go on-line to shop but to support the local economy.

Simpson says they are also doing the best they can to connect local businesses to the increased activity out at the airport…

“So something like the fire base out at the airport, the RCMP officers that are coming in, we are doing our best to connect all of those incremental resources to our local business community, to our restaurants and our caterers, to our supply stores and make sure we get at least some offsetting economic activity in the community from the incremental resources we’re getting today.”

Simpson says it is important that independent businesses and franchises can keep people employed during this very difficult time.