The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is urging the reopening of B.C.'s events sector.
The chamber has written to Health Minister Adrian Dix, Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, Tourism Minister Melanie Mark and local MLA Harwinder Sandhu, asking the province to work with the industry to drive economic recovery.
“Weddings, corporate gatherings, community events, fundraisers and celebrations of life have largely been sidelined by the pandemic since March 2020. Not only has that negatively impacted event planners – mostly small entrepreneurs – and their employees, there have been losses for associated businesses, including caterers, venues, suppliers, retailers and photographers,” chamber president Robin Cardew says.
“Restrictions have resulted in a loss of contracts and refunds, and the prospect of new bookings is reduced because of ongoing uncertainty around future health orders and possible event cancellations. Adding to the situation are health orders that often lack clarity.”
Cardew says the chamber “is convinced that events operated by industry professionals can provide a safe environment for all participants utilizing similar health protocols as followed by restaurants, retailers, fitness centres and theatres.”
He continues: “Vaccine rates are high, so let’s be mindful of all, including our front-line workers, who wish to improve their mental health with connections and events.”
The chamber makes the following recommendations:
- That government form a consultation process with event industry representatives to establish a process that allows events to resume, including, but not limited to, capacity, masks, proof of vaccination, sanitization and security
- Health orders that include clear definitions for events and restrictions for specific event format
- Clear and understandable language in public health orders and other information
- Payroll and rent support programs so event companies have access to cash flow as they reopen
“In communities such as Vernon, events of all sizes are not only essential to our economy, but these functions create vitality and diversity for our residents and visitors. The event planning sector in B.C. must survive,” said Cardew.