The tail-end of the summer season has been bittersweet for the new owners of Basted Baker, who took over the business at the end of 2022.
The Sechelt restaurant has been broken into three times over the course of four weeks, and co-owner Martin DesRosiers told Coast Reporter that other Sunshine Coast business owners have reached out to him about similar experiences.
He said the restaurant’s back patio has been broken into on three separate occasions by different individuals who stole food. The door’s lock has been pried open, cut, and, in the most recent break-in, the whole door was removed from its hinges. Each time, Basted Baker has hired contractors to reinforce the door and security measures, including adding additional cameras and lighting. It has cost hundreds of dollars for each incident. The RCMP have been notified each time, he added.
“It’s just like waiting for the next time for it to happen,” DesRosiers said. ”At the end of the day, we’re just a small business in a small town, employing close to a dozen people. We’re trying to contribute to the local economy and support the community, and provide an establishment for tourists and locals to enjoy. So it becomes a bit of a distraction and challenge when things like this happen, and it’s repeated.”
Of the District of Sechelt’s recent decision to hire security for the downtown area, DesRosiers said it’s a step in the right direction. He’d also like to see more dialogue and transparency around what is being done, and is supportive of a collaborative effort. He adds that it’s a multi-layer issue and “unfortunately, the small business owners kind of take the hit.”
DesRosiers, who also owns Beachcombers Coffee and grew up on the Sunshine Coast, said he doesn’t want to just point out problems — he wants to be part of the solution. Noting that food was stolen, he and his business partner have decided to make a donation to the food bank.
“Because food has been stolen, the message I would like to make clear is that if someone needs an affordable meal, talk to us,” he said. “We understand some people may not have the means to purchase certain things. So talk to us, maybe we can work something out.” DesRosiers hopes to encourage people to leverage the services within the community.
Province offers rebate
Another option for business owners is coming to the table. In July, the province announced $10.5 million for a new Securing Small Business Rebate Program to help cover costs associated with crime and vandalism. This fall, businesses can apply for up to $2,000 for vandalism repair costs and up to $1,000 for vandalism prevention. Prevention measures could include security cameras.
The application process is expected to open up this fall, and businesses can apply for incidents that occurred as early as Jan. 1, 2023.
In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation said, “We expect a high volume of applications from across B.C. to come in fast, so are currently working through the details so we can ensure application, review and payment efficiencies are in place to make sure these rebates get into the hands of small businesses in a timely manner. We will have more information to share on the application process in the weeks ahead.”
In the meantime, the ministry will work with boards of trade, chambers of commerce and business improvement areas to make sure eligible businesses are aware of what’s available to them. The ministry also notes that the rebate is intended to build on the province’s Safer Communities Action Plan to strengthen enforcement and leverage mental health and addiction services.