Soap vendors are among the many non-food artisans who have been barred from attending farmers’ markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Pixabay)

Soap vendors are among the many non-food artisans who have been barred from attending farmers’ markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Pixabay)

Vernon chamber lobbies for non-food vendors at farmers’ markets

Artisans have been barred from attending markets during the pandemic since December

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is calling on the province to allow non-food vendors to return to farmers’ markets.

The chamber sent a letter to Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix, the provincial health officer and local MLA Harwinder Sandhu to request a review of the current COVID-19 order that restricts artisans from attending B.C. farmer’s markets.

“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;” said chamber president Krystin Kempton. “Without this, farmers’ markets and local food vendors, which are essential services, are at risk of shutting down as well.”

Non-food vendors have been barred from the markets since Dec. 3, 2020, but the chamber says they were a fundamental part of market operations last summer and fall. In those months, local farmer’s markets were busily adapting their layouts and safety plans to comply with the province’s health measures.

READ MORE: Non-food vendors ‘destroyed’ by banishment from B.C. farmers’ markets

Kempton said while the province has the chamber’s full support in their efforts to assist small business owners during the pandemic, non-food vendors need to be a part of that effort.

“Organizers of farmers’ markets have demonstrated their willingness and ability to ensure the safety of consumers and vendors,” Kempton said.

“There is no better example of the 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.”

The B.C. government is set to announce updates to the health restrictions tomorrow (Feb. 5). Those announcements could be pivotal for markets which are now beginning their plans for the spring and summer seasons, while in many cases operating winter markets.

“The chamber encourages the government to make an immediate decision to permit non-food vendors at farmers’ markets,” Kempton said.

READ MORE: Okanagan home prices jump as real estate market heats up in January

READ MORE: Bylaw helps solve Enderby farmers’ coyote conundrum

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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