The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce hosted its first in a series of town halls Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (Chamber photo)

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce hosted its first in a series of town halls Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (Chamber photo)

Town hall focuses on Vernon’s economic recovery

A trio of politicians discussed how the city and province can bounce back from COVID-19

Local and provincial politicians were on-screen Friday to discuss the next steps in economic recovery in the Vernon area.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce hosted the first of a series of town halls Feb. 19. Taking part in the Zoom conference was Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu, B.C’s Agriculture Minister Lana Popham and Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, setting up a conversation centred on local economic renewal during the pandemic.

Among the topics covered were the looming deadline for the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program, the real estate speculation tax, government spending on agriculture, how B.C. will pay for recovery programs and a new cultural centre in Greater Vernon.

“It is appropriate that our first major town hall of 2021 occurred during Chamber of Commerce Week in B.C. as chambers play a significant role in promoting vibrant economies and resilient communities. In the case of our chamber, we have been the leading voice of business and Greater Vernon since 1897,” said Greater Vernon Chamber General Manager Dan Proulx.

A question was raised concerning non-food vendors being barred from farmer’s markets as a precaution during the pandemic. Sandhu said while she understands the frustration among vendors and markets alike, the decision is out of the hands of B.C. politicians and in the hands of public health officials.

READ MORE: New report finds COVID-19 pandemic cut B.C.’s hospitality jobs in half

Sandhu added she has spoken directly to Dr. Bonnie Henry on the matter and was reassured that “they are constantly looking into this, listening to different organizations and reassessing the situation.”

In the meantime, she encouraged non-food vendors to take advantage of the Launch Online government grant, a new program to help small- and medium-sized businesses shift to e-commerce with up to $7,500 in support. Launch Online can be applied for at launchonline.ca.

On COVID-19’s impact on tourism, Kahlon said officials are working to make the support program for small and medium-sized businesses more accessible to tourism operators.

“That program has seen about 60 per cent of applications coming from just the tourism sector,” he said.

Kahlon said he’s been asked whether it makes sense to continue to spend “millions” to support people and businesses when “98.7 per cent of the jobs have come back in the province,” but said that number can be deceiving as a majority of those jobs are being supported by pandemic relief funds.

“We know that over 70 per cent of all businesses in B.C. are relying on some sort of government support to maintain their operations,” he said.

Three more town halls are on deck to be hosted by the Greater Vernon Chamber. On March 3, North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold will get together with Pat Kelly, Conservative shadow minister for small business and Western economic diversification.

On March 31, the chamber will welcome Sam Samaddar, airport director for the Kelowna International Airport, and on April 7 Liberal labour critic Greg Kyllo will have a discussion with jobs, economic recovery and innovation critic Todd Stone.

All questions submitted by chamber members for Friday’s town hall will be forwarded to Kahlon, Popham and Sandhu for a response.

For more information or to register for upcoming town halls, Chamber members can visit this link.

READ MORE: Vernon police, MLA, pin moose hide in support of national campaign against violence


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

AgricultureJobsPolitics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
Despite additional death, COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional loss in last day

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap rural communities, including Lumby, will receive B.C. government grants to support new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap communities collect government grants

Lumby and Blind Bay to benefit to help recover from economic impact of COVID-19

Accelerate Okanagan has announced the six finalists for the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit. The remaining entrepreneurs will compete for a chance to receive a $145,000 investment in their business. (Eryca Stirling photo)
Finalists named for Okanagan entrepreneur summit

Accelerate Okanagan has named the final six competing entrepreneurs in the OKGN Angel Summit

A $3,000 donation from the Gary Bennett Family Fund will go towards baby products for families in need. (Central Okanagan Food Bank)
Okanagan charity donates $3,000 to support young families

The Gary Bennett Family Fund donated to Central Okanagan Food Bank

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

Most Read