Krystin Kempton

Krystin Kempton, President of the Greater Vernon Chamber 

VERNON – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce welcomes the measures taken by the City of Vernon to support business, and it is calling on other local governments to act.

City council has established a one-time grant program and it will be equivalent to 2.1 per cent of the 2020 municipal property tax portion of the City of Vernon property tax notice. Under provincial legislation, businesses will have to enter into a partnering agreement with the city to receive the grant. The city has also extended the due date for 2020 property taxes to Sept. 1.

“We thank council and city administration for recognizing that business owners are facing extreme hardship during the pandemic, with many businesses closed entirely or operating at reduced hours,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president.

“We also appreciate that the city’s ability to act is limited by provincial legislation, as well as the need to maintain core services such as police, fire, utilities and infrastructure.”

Prior to council meeting April 15, the Chamber made several requests, including:

  • That 2020 property tax bills have a due date of Sept. 2 instead of July 2.
  • That 2020 utility bills for city customers be due four months after the billing cycle, and that interest be waived on outstanding balances until Dec. 31.
  • That the City review the 2020 financial plan to determine if adjustments can be made to expenditures as many business owners have had to make difficult decisions.
  • Where funds exist, that the city proceed with 2020 capital projects to support the economy.
  • That the city work with partners to create an economic recovery task force similar to that in Penticton. It would make recommendations that support businesses.

“We hope city council will consider the remainder of our requests and the Chamber is ready to partner with the city to create a climate that moves businesses towards recovery,” said Kempton.

Beyond the City of Vernon, the Greater Vernon Chamber is also calling on the District of Coldstream and the Regional District of North Okanagan to take similar taxation and budgetary measures to assist businesses in their jurisdictions.

“Our region is closely connected and the impact of business crosses all boundaries when it comes to employment and supporting community initiatives. We would urge Coldstream and RDNO to take all available steps to help businesses through this challenging time,” said Kempton.

For more information, contact: Dione Chambers, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce general manager 250-545-0771, manager@vernonchamber.ca