A call to reopen B.C.’s event sector is being made in support of economic recovery.
The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is calling on the provincial government to work with B.C.’s professional event sector.
The Chamber has written to Health Minister Adrian Dix, Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, Tourism Minister Melanie Mark and Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu.
“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 has been losses for associated businesses, including caterers, venues, suppliers, retailers and photographers,” said Robin Cardew, Chamber president.
“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 (what is the difference between a sponsored or ticketed party and a sponsored or ticketed event?).”
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.
“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,” said Cardew.
The Greater Vernon Chamber has made the following recommendations to government:
• That the government immediately 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 (shift from ‘personal gatherings,’ ‘organized indoor events’ and ‘organized indoor events at venues’)
• 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.