Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns talks to Coyotes Coffee & Tea Co general manager Alison Duby and wholesale/operations manager Carolyn Friis during his visits to businesses in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. — Michael Briones photo

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns talks to Coyotes Coffee & Tea Co general manager Alison Duby and wholesale/operations manager Carolyn Friis during his visits to businesses in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. — Michael Briones photo

MP Johns checks out issues facing business community

Courtenay-Alberni MP spends two days visiting area businesses

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns got to know more about issues and problems business owners in the Parskville Qualicum Beach are facing and what the government needs to do to help them.

Johns spent two days recently visiting more than 100 businesses, along with members of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce, Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce and some enthusiastic volunteers.

Johns met with owners and managers and briefly discussed problems and also their successes as well. Most of them, Johns said, expressed concern about the shortage of skilled labour and a lack of young workers in the area.

During the summers months, they are able to fill vacancies but when September sets in, when most of their young workers go back to school, they struggle to find suitable and reliable replacements. The lack of affordable housing was often raised as a potential reason for young people struggling to put down roots here.

Johns also heard strong support for lowering the merchant fees and interest rates on credit cards.

One of the shops he visited was Osprey Electric. Johns met owner, Tyler Cody, and learned about the needs of the local solar industry.

“Many people are making the switch to solar power and it’s awesome to have a local business doing the work right in our community,” said Johns.

Cody expressed his desire to see the federal government reintroduce the Home Energy Retrofit Program, which is a program that some provincial governments have in place but isn’t available in B.C.