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'We're all just hoping to survive': Greenhouse and nursery industry asks to be considered essential service
WINNIPEG -- COVID-19 is having a catastrophic impact on businesses across the province and the gardening industry is no exception.
The Manitoba Nursery and Landscape Association is asking the provincial government to consider greenhouses and nurseries an essential service.
“When the Province of Manitoba released its list of essential businesses, our garden centre industry was expecting to be on that list to follow the example of British Columbia and Quebec” said Guy Dowhy, president of the association.
“When we found out we weren’t we were extremely concerned.”
Dowhy said businesses that are still allowed to operate under the current guidelines rely on greenhouses.
“The other sectors of our industry, the landscape maintenance, landscape construction and the commercial growers still have permission to continue business as usual, that’s part of the supply chain. These greenhouses provide plants so we can go and maintain the yards.”
He also said the industry contributes to the food supply, by selling seeds for vegetables and fruits.
In a release from the Manitoba Nursery and Landscape Association, Chad Labbe, vice president of Shelmerdine’s Garden Centre said “if we were forced to stay closed to the public until June 15, we will experience a 75% loss in annual revenue.”
“We’re all just hoping to survive. We’re not looking at profits,” said Guy Dowhy.
ECONOMIC DRY SPELL
Spring is usually the busiest time of year for nurseries, but many are facing the possibility of an economic dry spell. Most greenhouses and nurseries have already invested heavily and only have a few months to turn a profit.
Carla Hrycyna, the owner of St. Mary’s Nursery and Garden Centre, said she makes 60 per cent of her annual revenue between April and June.
“This is the time when greenhouses are in the thick of their sales and production.” said Hrycyna.
Her nursery is now closed to the public, but it’s still selling plants online and delivering them curbside.
“We can’t shut our doors and walk away. We have plants to look after,” said Hrycyna.
But there isn’t enough work to go around and Hrycyna can only give hours to half of her 50 employees.
“If we think we’re going to have a future in this business, we need to care for things,” she said.