Businesses not confident landlords will help them during pandemic
VANCOUVER -- For years, Pallet Coffee Roasters has been feeding Vancouver’s addiction to coffee. Now facing an eviction, order they're on the ropes.
“I’ve never been a boxer but if you suddenly get a right hook, that’s what it feels like for me. I’m still trying to get up,” said CEO Shoja Sharifi.
Sharifi said business at all seven of the shop’s locations in Vancouver has dropped close to 70 per cent since the start of the pandemic.
The coffee shops are open, but with their massive dine-in spaces closed, business is sporadic and slow.
To make matters worse, Sharifi said, he’s being evicted from this location on Broadway.
“The landlords are not cooperating,” he said.
He said he managed to pay the rent for April, but is behind for May.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced help for landlords with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.
“Paying rent on your space might be a problem right now,” Trudeau said in his daily briefing. “We hear that, so were taking action.”
The CECRA is offering commercial landlords forgivable loans to cover half of rent their small business tenants can't pay.
Despite’s Trudeau urging for landlords to apply for the program, the business community is not hopeful.
In a new survey, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade found only 16 per cent of businesses paying rent expect to qualify for the CECRA, and fewer than half – just 40 per cent - expect their landlord will actually apply for the program.
“This is a really significant cost measure for many businesses,” said Bridgitte Anderson, president and CEO of the GVBOT.
“They are finding out it is very difficult to pay rent as well as other costs when perhaps they can only come back to 40, 50 per cent of where revenue is supposed to be.”
Sharifi explained he has been asking his landlord to help and said he is only three weeks behind on rent.
CTV News wasn’t able to reach the landlord, Pinnacle International, but in a series of email exchanges, Sharifi said he was told “ultimately the landlord has not agreed to any changes to the rent payments due at this time.”
"If they kick us out of this location, who's going to come here? There's nobody out there," he said.
His story is, perhaps, an early sign of the economic downturn many fear will continue long past the pandemic.