Vernon wants to see artisans and crafters return to their tables at farmers’ markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can go to Walmart, I can go to a big box store and I can buy a decorative cup made in China but I can’t go to a market and buy a decorative cup made here,” Coun. Scott Anderson said at the Feb. 22 council meeting, where it was passed that the city would send a letter to the health minister urging non-food vendors be deemed essential.
“This is another example of the discriminatory policies that are killing small businesses, promoting large businesses and generally distorting the economy in favour of the large chains,” Anderson said. “While achieving very little to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
The Vernon Farmers’ Market has been operating a deficit, according to Anderson, due to low attendance from vendors and members of the public due to restrictive public health orders issued Jan. 8 banning gathering and events.
“The BC Association of Farmer’s Markets has been given no formal reason for the ban,” said Anderson, “Other than that Farmer’s Markets are arbitrary (sic) classified as ‘events’ instead of markets, and the public health order disallows non-food items at events. This is not a reason, but rather a claim that the reason it’s disallowed is that it’s disallowed.”
A petition has also been started to bring non-food vendors back to B.C.’s markets. More than 700 people have signed the online effort, at change.org.
The Vernon Farmer’s Market is still open and runs its modified indoor market Fridays inside Kal Tire Place 11-3 p.m., but hours have been extended until 4 p.m. for the last four indoor markets.
The market adheres to strict COVID-19 protocol with physical distancing, one-way aisles and one shopper per household where possible.
Coun. Kelly Fehr opposed Anderson’s motion, in support of current restrictions.
“In light of the COVID variance and the third wave I’m not sure now is the time,” Fehr said.