February saw ups and downs for North Island businesses. CBC’s Big Decision came to film in Port Hardy as Hardy Buoys battled for its survival, and owners Bruce and Carol Dirom announced the planned Big Event.
The show features Dragon’s Den star Arlene Dickinson working with struggling, but established Canadian businesses to offer advice and maybe even investment cash — if certain criteria is met. In Hardy Buoys’ case, that was to organize and host a community event that drew attention to the North Island.
North Islanders were shocked when Fields announced that it would be closing its doors nationwide later in the year. Employees at the stores in Port Hardy and Port McNeill were left uncertain of their futures as the company announced that the stores would be closed by autumn, but could not confirm how many employees would be left out of work.
The news followed the closure of at least seven other North Island businesses in the preceding months, and MLA Claire Trevena echoed the public’s concern. “When you talk about big stores, like Fields, pulling out it’s really beyond our control and problematic,” she said.
Another Port Hardy business closed in February as a fire leveled Tom’s Kitchen on Market Street, injuring five firefighters who responded to the blaze. Of the five firefighters who were injured because of icy conditions, two were treated by BC Ambulance on scene and one other was treated at the Port Hardy Hospital.