Downtown Guelph businesses now better prepared for disasters: Co-operators

GUELPH, ON, Sept. 9 2008 – A pilot program conducted this summer in Guelph, Ontario, has provided 350 small and mid-sized businesses in the city’s downtown core with tools to help them become more resilient to the impact of natural catastrophes, fires, power outages and other potentially devastating events. The first-of-its kind pilot, part of the Open for Business(TM) program, employed a university student from May to August to provide support, distribute kits and act as a resource to local businesses.

“The business community in downtown Guelph consists mainly of small, independent operations. These types of business don’t always have the resources to develop robust business continuity plans,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “Through this pilot project, these businesses received invaluable planning tools and advice that could one day be the difference between getting through a disaster and being driven out of business.”

Research indicates that one in four small businesses forced to close because of an unanticipated event never reopens, in large part because they tend to have fewer resources to devote to business continuity planning. To support them, 97 per cent of the businesses in downtown Guelph were visited and provided with disaster planning kits. The Open for Business(TM) information and planning tools are presented in three main components:

  • The Open for Business(TM) Disaster Plan Folder provides advice and is designed to hold important papers such as leases, insurance policies and contact lists.
  • The Open for Business(TM) Getting Back to Business Guide provides step-by-step instructions to help business owners assess damage, file insurance claims, and get back to business.
  • The Open for Business(TM) Toolkit contains helpful information, checklists and forms to help business owners reduce the potential for loss and reopen quickly.

The pilot project was a partnership between the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, The Co-operators, and the Downtown Guelph Business Association. For more information on disaster preparedness, visit

About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:

Established in 1998 by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR’s research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR’s work to build communities more resilient to disasters. Ongoing ICLR funding is provided by the insurance community, The University of Western Ontario and a number of other partners.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies offering home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators Group Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with assets of $7 billion. It is owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives, credit union centrals and like-minded organizations. It is well known for its community involvement, and is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada.