Monday May 17, 2021 ~ SOOKE, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Keeping vehicles in good working order — especially for essential workers — has been an important service in the local economy during the long haul of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rhythm and pattern of providing that service has changed and adapted over the past 14 months in response to the waves of the pandemic and the public health protocols within that in BC. The pandemic was officially declared in BC in mid-March of last year.
Summer seems a good time during the pandemic to have vehicle repairs done that may have been put off due to isolating or financial uncertainties. As the ‘one-dose summer’ lies ahead, where presumably most people will have received their first COVID vaccination shot, it could be a good time to catch up on things like car repair. From upgrading tires to a simple oil change might be easier to do now compared to last year.
Hours remain at 5 days-a-week:
At Dumont Tirecraft in Sooke, operations were maintained during the first wave of COVID-19 (spring 2020) at first with shortened hours and fewer business days. For the first three weeks, the Dumont Tirecraft was open from Monday to Thursday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, and the reception area was blocked to the public, says shop owner Jason Dumont.
Employees did not take advantage of CERB last year; instead the company got on board with government benefits to maintain the shop’s stability during troubling times. In terms of employees, in Phase 1 of the pandemic part-time staff was laid off, while permanent workers stayed on.
By July 2020 (as the BC economy began reopening), business days werer extended to Monday to Friday. Now almost a year later, the Monday to Friday hours remain in place, 8:30 to 5:30 pm, still leaving Saturdays (previously a very busy day at the shop) closed for doing cleaning and generally catching up on things.
Safety procedures in place:
Dumont staff are diligent about their safety procedures and ensures that everything touched by customers is sanitized (including the debit machine), all touch-surfaces within vehicles are cleaned after being serviced, and that hand sanitizer and lotion are readily available. Dumont and his repair team wear gloves for mechanical work normally, but now they wear their gloves all day long at the shop, and masks too.
Everyone who comes into the reception area must be wearing a mask. There is a plexiglass shield at the service counter.
Working on vehicles that will keep essential workers on the road and to their destinations safely is still a priority. But tires for recreational and yard maintenance vehicles and equipment are popular in spring and summer. Tire upgrades are both popular and essential year-round, and many seasonal tire rebate coupons are offered.
“Things are operating differently,” said Dumont Tirecraft Ltd shop owner Jason Dumont around this time last year. “People can phone ahead, and we will come out meet them at their cars to see what repairs or services are needed so we can maintain physical distancing”. This year the routine at the shop seems pretty much back to normal (including the busy vehicle-packed front lot), with COVID public health protocols still in place of course.
Keeping people moving:
Car repair shops are among those services that keep people moving during the province’s health emergency. “Day in and day out, your work secures the essential goods and services British Columbians count on,” said Premier John Horgan about workers in essential service industries. Horgan’s Langford-Juan de Fuca riding includes Sooke.
The vehicles of health care workers and anyone else doing essential services during COVID-19 are top priority for Dumont and his repair shop crew. Important things right now are to make sure tires are okay, including air pressure. An oil change might not seem important, but if not done on a fairly regular basis that can age a vehicle more quickly than might otherwise be.
At the beginning of the pandemic people came in with all sorts of necessary things to be done. “They needed new tires, their brakes were shot, struts were broken or calipers had seized,” shop-owner Jason Dumont listed off. COVID-responsive work rhythms and routines still adapted and shifted into the fall season and ahead of Christmas 2020 there was the usual winterizing of vehicles being done.
Now well into the pandemic it seems like ‘business as usual’ at Dumont Tirecraft but still of course with masks, physical distancing, and still a sense that only the most urgent repairs are being done as people’s lives remain both busy and contained by pandemic constraints. The current public health ‘circuit-breaker’ (no non-essential travel, stay local, stay home, remain within your bubble)
Dumont Tirecraft Ltd is located at 2079 Otter Point Road in Sooke town centre. It’s a family-owned business. Daughter Lexey Dumont runs the office.