Western Regional Enterprise Network Releases Findings from Nova Scotia Wildfire Impact Survey

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia – The effects of the massive wildfires Nova Scotia saw in June are still being felt by the business community in Shelburne and Yarmouth counties.

To assess the business community’s needs, the Western Regional Enterprise Network created and circulated a survey for business owners to describe their situation following the wildfires. The survey was open for three weeks and received 72 responses from business owners. Almost half the respondents operate businesses in the Barrington area, and a third located in Shelburne, with responses also coming in from the Yarmouth, Lockeport and Clyde River areas. Of the respondents, 30% operate retail businesses, with private services and construction coming second and third, respectively.

The impacts of the wildfires were wide-ranging and affected everything from the loss of perishable products, power, cellular and internet; to employees being unable to come to work. Close to 70% of respondents reported a loss of sales, citing customers’ inability to access businesses as a major factor. Highway closures, smoke damage and the absence of employees serving as volunteer firefighters were other issues raised by respondents that had a significant impact on their businesses.

Many of these effects are still being felt. During the wildfires, many businesses in the affected areas and beyond were forced to shut down. 50% of the survey’s respondents said their business was closed for at least eight days, with 19% reporting their business was closed between 15-30 days; two businesses have closed permanently following the wildfires. While the other businesses have now all reopened, they are now facing potential financial strain to get back on track. Survey respondents reported a combined total of $1.4 million in estimated damages. Much of these estimated costs are falling directly on businesses to cover. Of the respondents, 64% said they had no insurance coverage. For those who had insurance, the average coverage was 25% of their damages.

In the wake of the wildfires, affected business owners are looking for support to get their operations back on track. While financial support for the business itself is needed, business owners are also looking for support for their affected employees. When asked for other feedback, respondents also identified clean water, tourism support and the impact of volunteer firefighter obligations as areas of concern.

The Western REN has been relaying information from the business community to Municipal and Provincial government partners since June. Any other businesses still needing support who did not complete the survey can reach out to the Western REN to share their concerns.

For further information, contact

Jakob Postlewaite, Communications Coordinator, Western Regional Enterprise Network, 902-317-1998 or by email