Should non-food artisans be allowed to return to BC farmers markets?

Poll: Artisans at the market

BC Liberals are adding their voice to those asking the NDP to allow non-food vendors at farmers markets.

The Vernon Farmers Market has been pressing for non-food vendors to be allowed back and has been promoting an online petition that has collected more than 7,000 names.

“In March 2020, when COVID restrictions first hit B.C., non-food vendors such as flower farmers and artisans were removed from farmers markets. The first non-food market ban lasted from early April to mid June 2020, and it was incredibly stressful and time consuming having to pivot business models to e-commerce in only a matter of weeks. A second provincial health order banning non-food vendors at farmers markets came again mid-December 2020, a time when many small businesses rely on farmers market sales at Christmas time to support their families. Currently, the non-food ban is still in place ... with no end in sight,” said a statement on the petition page.

The local market has been holding shop in Kal Tire Place each Friday, but without the non-food vendors, the winter market has been struggling financially. And with the spring market only a few weeks away, the desire to have all types of vendors allowed is being stressed.

Liberal MLA Ian Paton supports COVID safety measures, but wonders how a farmers’ market is much different than a department or grocery store.

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