Stratford Economic Response &
Recovery Task Force

Purpose of the Economic Response and Recovery Task Force

Incorporating immediate and long-term actions to support local industry, small business and the workforce across all sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic response and eventual recovery.

  • Coordinated by investStratford, the Stratford Economic Response & Recovery Task Force will partner with the Stratford & District Chamber of Commerce, Stratford Tourism Alliance, the Business Improvement Area (City Centre Committee), local employers and businesses, Employment Ontario and other Associations to fulfil its mandate.
  • Membership Composition: Members of the Task Force are comprised of organizations with a primary mandate on economic development and are business-facing.
  • SEEDCo. is a non-profit of the City of Stratford.  The task force, considered a priority project, will report to the SEEDCo. Board of Directors.  The City of Stratford will be represented on the task force by the Chief Administrative Officer.

Task Force Structure
The task force will divide into three sub-committees based on sector.  Within each sector priorities will be set for short-term, responsive activities and long-term recovery projects around the following pillars:

  • To support business
  • To support employees
  • To support community

HURON PERTH PUBLIC HEALTH ALLIANCE ANNOUNCEMENT on July 9, 2020 re: Face Coverings: Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health for Huron and Perth counties, has issued formal instructions to employers to require the use of face coverings in all commercial establishments, effective Friday, July 17, 2020. These instructions require business owners to implement a policy for the use of non-medical masks or face coverings; including the expectation that people entering will wear a face covering. More information @HPPublicHealth

Support for Businesses and Information from Huron Public Health re: Masks and Face Coverings

Huron Perth Public Health Instructions for Employers, Businesses and Organizations re: Masks in Perth County

Huron Perth Public Health Instructions for Use of Masks

PRINTABLE PDF of Wear a Mask Poster
















HURON PERTH PUBLIC HEALTH COVID ‐19 Guidelines: Take‐out and Delivery

HURON PERTH PUBLIC HEALTH COVID-19 Guidance for Food Premises: Outdoor Dining During COVID-19









GOVERNMENT DIRECTORY OF PPE RESOURCES Provincially supported list of companies that sell personal protective equipment (PPE).

LOCAL PPE RESOURCE DIRECTORY: The BIA has assembled a list of local businesses with PPE available for purchase. We encourage you to shop local with more information found on the BIA website If you are a business who is supplying Personal Protective Supplies and Equipment, and would like to be added to the list, please email the BIA or us directly at call 519-305-5055.

ROTARY CLUB OF STRATFORD COVID-19 PROJECT: Reusable masks supplied and made by local volunteers. Email:

Task Force Initiatives and Activities:

The task force and its membership are both leading and participating in a wide-variety of initiatives and programmes in order to support economic response and recovery during this difficult time. Community input is invaluable as we move towards finding ways in which businesses and business owners can navigate a pathway for themselves. Here is a running list of activities completed, underway or in the planning stages:

Stratford Tourism Alteration and Transformation Project (STAT) - completed

The Stratford Tourism Alteration & Transformation Project (STAT) was a program that supported small to medium sized businesses (SME's) and Culture Non-for-Profits (NFPs) impacted by the decline in Tourism in the City of Stratford. Eligible projects between $7,500 and $20,000 were funded for eligible project costs incurred between June 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Recipient details found here.

Movies Under The Stars

Managed by Queen of the Square Cinema with support from Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Tourism Stratford, investStratford, Stratford City Centre and Ballinran Entertainment, this "Parking Lot" edition will offer a unique 'drive-in' movie experience outside the old Grand Trunk Railway Shops at 105 St. Patrick Street, Stratford, Ontario.

Gates open at 7:30 pm. Concessions are not offered on-site.  Please bring any snacks and beverages with you. Portable washrooms are located adjacent to the Stratford-Perth Family YMCA and you are encouraged to wear a mask when leaving your vehicle area.
Admission will be $15 for adults and $5 for children 6-12 years old. Children five and under are free.Tickets can be purchased in advance or at a ticket booth at the drive-in with debit, credit or Apple Pay.

More information here.

Mental Health for Business Owners Program

COVID-19 has impacted the mental health and wellness of small business owners and entrepreneurs and an effort to help, we are offering a no-cost mental wellness support counselling program to business owners in Perth County, the City of Stratford and the Town of St. Marys. The Mental Wellness Program is accessible through the Stratford Perth Centre for Business site and offers 100+ free hours of one-on-one professional counselling with Family Services Perth Huron Mental.

All funding is provided by the City of Stratford Social Services Department. Access help anonymously here.

Canada United Small Business Relief Fund

Canada United: Launched by RBC, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, along with the Federal and Provincial governments, Canada United is focused on supporting small businesses across Canada and encourages people to watch the Canada United videos online at, like posts from @GoCanadaUnited on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn and use #CanadaUnited to demonstrate their support. For each action, RBC will contribute 5 cents to the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund.
Canada United Small Business Relief Fund: Small Canadian businesses across the country will be able to apply for up to $5,000 in grant funding. The program intends to support small Canadian businesses of all kinds from across the country and will be administered by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national Chamber network. Small business owners who are interested in the program can visit to learn more about grant application details, including eligibility criteria, and to apply.

COVID-19 Business Resources information site

Led by investStratford, the site attempts to function as a community business source collecting and updating COVID-19 related information focused on Municipal, Provincial and Federal announcements about Business funding, support, PPE Resources and guidelines. More info here.

Lights On Stratford

Lights On Stratford, a brand new arts and culture festival being spearheaded by the Stratford Economic Response and Recovery Task Force, will bring colourful, elaborate light sculptures and exhibits to various spots across the city during the cold-weather months between November and February. This new event is inspired by the Toronto Light Festival, with much of the art featured in Stratford’s version created by lighting designers and technical staff from the Stratford Festival, providing a unique, local experience. More information here.

Entrepreneur Academy

Currently free to support small businesses during COVID-19: Courses are online and available to business-minded learners with topics that include: Instagram, Facebook, Squarespace, Shopify, Layoff information etc. Led by investStratord's Stratford Perth Centre for Business (program funded by the Ontario government and supported by the City of Stratford). More information here.

Downtown Stratford Survey

Stratford City Centre BIA wants to hear from you! Help to make Stratford's vibrant and historic downtown a destination that appeals to ALL Stratford residents and complete their latest survey here.

COVID-19 Urgent Needs Funding (ECSF)

Led by United Way Perth-Huron, the Urgent Needs Fund addresses the most vulnerable areas within community and applications are found on their website. Emergency Community Support Fund for Organizations (ECSF) is intended to strengthen the capacity of community service organizations to meet the urgent needs of vulnerable individuals and families disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.2. More information here.

En Plein Air (Open Air Initiative)

Stratford “en plein air initiative” is focused on enabling and celebrating Stratford arts and culture in its outdoor public spaces and this first project, the CIRCLES physical distancing pilot project, sets the stage for Stratford’s community to safely use its beautiful park system in unique and creative ways.

2021 COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

Together with Perth County Economic Development, investStratford is seeking input from local businesses as we continue to monitor the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local businesses. The updated survey will allow us to obtain updated information about the effects of COVID-19 and thereby better advocate. Please complete the Business Impact survey here.

Stratford Summer Music’s MusicBarge

Stratford Summer Music will install and operate a mobile MusicBarge on the Avon River. The barge will showcase artists from Stratford and surrounding areas with performances from 2pm and 4pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons July 24, to Aug. 23, 2020.‍

Streetside Live

Streetside Live is a musical arts program designed to enhance and re-animate the downtown core during the pandemic. The program positions musicians in cargo beds of 2 vintage pickup trucks in various locations around the downtown core to offer free musical performances daily from Aug.24, 2020 to Aug. 31, 2020. Performances would be approximately 1 hour in length.


Led by Tourism Stratford, the inspiring series reassures visitors and community that "although the streets are quiet", we'll get through this together. Campaign encourages sharing #LoveStratford on instagram, facebook and twitter with a video is available for viewing and sharing here.

List of Open Downtown Stratford Businesses

BIA managed online listing of businesses offering take-away, curbside pick-up or delivery of food here.

City of Stratford COVID-19 City Facilities and Services Updates

Managed by City of Stratford, the page offers information and updates re: closures and guidelines for the City of Stratford here.

The Al Fresco Project

Welcome Back Stratford Restaurants - Al Fresco Project - Phase 1

The Al Fresco Project has been approved by City Council and the Task Force has begun to plan for implementation of an outdoor dining experience in collaboration with and in support of Stratford's restaurants and culinary providers. The project is in planning phase and early implementation. Information will be updated as it becomes available.

Digital Main Street's "ShopHere" Powered by Google

DIGITAL MAIN STREET’S "ShopHere" POWERED BY GOOGLE: The City of Stratford & Economic Response and Recovery Task Force have partnered with Toronto-based Digital Main Street Initiative ShopHERE, powered by Google, which started in the City of Toronto, helps independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Google Canada announced a one million dollar investment to expand the program to municipalities across the country. The City of Stratford is one of the first, outside of the GTA to participate. This program allows more small businesses and artists to receive the digital skills training needed to participate in the digital economy. The program is now available to small businesses in Stratford and local businesses and artists can apply for the program at to get their online store built at no-cost. More info

Committees, Chair Organizations & Working Groups

Stratford Economic Response and Recovery Task Force Committee includes:

Joani Gerber, CEO, investStratford; Jeff Orr, Board chair, investStratford; Mike Pullen, Managing Director, investStratford; Elke Bidner, Marketing and Communications Lead; Janis Auster, Operations and Administration Lead, Joan Thomson, CAO, City of Stratford, Rob Russell, Stratford City Centre BIA Board Chair, Zac Gribble, HRT Group Chair & Executive Director, Stratford Tourism Alliance, Joelle Lewis, Director of Research, United Way-Perth Huron, Julia Merritt, CEO, Stratford Public Library, Rebecca Scott, Stratford City Centre BIA

Consultation Group: Christy Bertrand, Conestoga Career Centre; Jennifer Birmingham, The Bruce Hotel; Leigh Cove, RTO4; Ryan Erb, United Way Perth Huron; Heidi Culliton, Stratford Perth Community Foundation; Laura Gibson, MEDJCT; Kim Griffiths, Stratford City Centre BIA; Sarah Hamza, Stratford Festival; John Kastner, Stratford Perth Museum; Joelle Lewis, Social Research & Planning Council; Patti-Jo Lindner, Stratford and District Labour Council; Doug MacDougald, South West Ontario Veterinary Services; Eddie Matthews, Stratford and District Chamber of Commerce; Julia Opie, formerly with County of Perth and City of Stratford; Tony J. Read, Stratford and Area Bed and Breakfast Association (SABBA); Kimberly Richardson, Woodcock Brothers Transportation Group; Marty Rops, Libro Credit Union; Matt Staffen, St. Marys Golf & Country Club; MJ Thomson, Festival Marketplace Shopping Centre; Jeff Wilson, City of Stratford; Montana Wilson, Stratford and Area Builders Association/SABA

Hospitality, Retail and Tourism (HRT) Advisory Group and Destination Development Group includes:

Zac Gribble, HRT Group Chair & Executive Director, Stratford Tourism Alliance, Andrea Gardi, RTO4; Randy Garfield, Randy A. Garfield & Advisors,LLC; Vicki Lass, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs/OMAFRA; Julia Merritt, Stratford Public Library, Rob Russell, Stratford City Centre BIA Board Chair, Rebecca Scott, Stratford City Centre BIA; Shelley Stevenson, Stratford Festival; Mark Wilson, FedDev Ontario; Shelley Windsor, Windsor Hospitality Inc.

Consultation Group: Theresa Albert, Rosehurst Bed and Breakfast; Leigh Cove, RTO4; Angela Brayham, Gallery Stratford, Craig Foster, Foster's Inn; Amanda Hatton, Avery House B&B;  Judy Matheson, Stratford Summer Music; Larry McCabe, Pazzo;  Lesley Spencer-Cooper, Malt Management/Stratford Festival; Craig Thompson, Ballinran Entertainment/Queen of the Square Cinema

Special Advisors

From time-time and in an Advisory role, community leaders will be engaged to lead and advise on specific projects.

Task Force Advisory Group Meeting Minutes

Discussion minutes from our bi-weekly meetings are available here.

Meeting Minutes

April 15, 2021

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Meeting Minutes

March 18, 2021

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February 19, 2021

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January 21, 2021

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January 7, 2021

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November 26, 2020

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October 15, 2020

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September 17, 2020

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August 6, 2020

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July 23, 2020

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June 25, 2020

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June 18, 2020

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June 11, 2020

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June 4, 2020

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May 29, 2020

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May 22, 2020

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May 14, 2020

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Meeting Minutes

April 29, 2020

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Meeting Minutes

May 7, 2020

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Economic Recovery Task Force Feedback Form

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