This week, I wrote a letter to Minister Dix asking that he and Dr. Bonnie Henry reconsider the recent public health order they issued, which restricts non-food items from being sold at farmer’s markets.
Click the photo below to read the letter I sent:
Dear Minister Dix,
I recognize the enormous burden on you and Dr Henry as you work to navigate the complex decisions that must be made to protect public health while trying to maintain a functioning economy during a pandemic. I laud your collective efforts.
I am writing to you today about the public health order issued on December 2, 2020 that restricts non-food items from being sold at farmers’ markets.
As you may know, the Duncan Farmers’ Market is a thriving weekly outdoor marketplace that is at the core of this community’s local economy. The Saturday market is vital to local crafts and food vendors, and is recognized by many as one of the best markets on Vancouver Island.
I have been impressed by the work the government has done to mitigate negative impacts from COVID-19, but this order for non-food vendors seems out of line with the sales opportunities that remain open to non-food vendors who are in permanent locations. That the order came at the beginning of December, the month that many local craftspeople are most likely to make their biggest sales, was an unexpected blow after a most difficult sales year.
We all recognized that this year has been extremely challenging for small businesses. It has been impressive how businesses have adapted and invested in ways they can continue to serve their customers. Farmers’ market vendors are no different; they found ways to exchange goods in a safe and practical way as dictated by provincial health orders, even though the costs making these alterations to their service delivery were not small.
Given that we are all able to continue shopping at grocery stores, malls, retail stores, and box stores, it’s difficult to understand the restrictions now in place that prohibit artists and artisans from selling at farmers’ markets.
I hope you will work with Dr. Bonnie Henry to reconsider this order.
Leader, BC Green Party
MLA for Cowichan Valley
Cc: Duncan Farmers’ Market Society