Vernon chamber calls on province to allow non-food vendors back at farmers markets

Support for farmers market

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of Vernon's struggling farmers market.

Market management said Wednesday they are in danger of closing due to pandemic restrictions that don't allow non-food vendors.

On Thursday, the chamber said it has written to Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and local MLA Harwinder Sandhu, requesting a review of the order.

"Friday could be the last market until the summer season," market manager Amanda Fallis said Wednesday, noting shoppers can still go to the mall and the big box stores and buy 'non-essentials' there.

"Artisans and local producers rely on community farmers markets to offer goods, often without the ability to sell their products elsewhere. The market itself depends on the extra revenue from non-food vendors to operate. Without this, farmers markets and local food vendors, which are essential services, are at risk of shutting down as well," chamber president Krystin Kempton said in a press release.

"Organizers of farmers markets have demonstrated their willingness and ability to ensure the safety of consumers and vendors. Provided protective health measures and directions are complied with, there should not be a delineation on what is permitted to be sold at a market. Allowing consumers to access non-food items at retail outlets while barring it from the market negatively and disproportionately affects small local businesses."

Non-food vendors have not been permitted at farmers’ markets since Dec. 3.

"We support the efforts of the Government of B.C. to assist small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no better example of small business entrepreneurial spirit than those who produce food or non-food items for farmers markets. They are our friends, neighbours and family, and critical to local economies, particularly in the Interior," said Kempton.

"The chamber encourages the government to make an immediate decision to permit non-food vendors at farmers markets."

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