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Chamber urges government support for IPE

VERNONThe Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is urging the provincial government to ensure the long-term viability of one of the North Okanagan’s largest festivals.
 
In a letter to Premier John Horgan and the ministers of finance, tourism and agriculture, the Chamber expresses its support for the Interior Provincial Exhibition, which occurs annually in Armstrong.
 
“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the IPE being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 and this lack of revenue has had a significant impact on the IPE as there are fixed costs beyond the five days of the fair. Staff is required year-round to plan for next year’s festivities,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president.

“We appreciate that the government is focused on the immediate reopening of the economy as Covid vaccinations occur. But there is also a need to look to 2022 and subsequent years so prosperity returns to all parts of B.C. In the Okanagan, tourism and agriculture are key economic pillars and the Armstrong Fair is critical to both of those sectors. Immediate measures must be taken to ensure the IPE can survive Covid.”

A 2017 study indicated that the IPE attracted 10,052 out-of-region visitors and an economic impact of $6.6 million. Other data from the study includes:

  • Total spend in restaurants/bars - $1.469 million
  • Total spend on transportation (parking, fuel, etc.) - $1.664 million
  • Total spend in grocery/liquor stores - $1.210 million
  • Total spend on retail - $1.635 million
  • Total spend on commercial lodgings - $659,397
Beyond the out-of-region visitors (defined as travelling 100 kilometres or more), thousands of people attend from the Thompson-Okanagan and they have a considerable economic impact on local retailers, transportation and vendors.

“For many merchants, equipment suppliers, accommodators and home-based entrepreneurs, the IPE is a major source of revenue while many non-profits depend on the funds they raise at the fair through food concessions, raffles and other activities,” said Kempton.

“We request that the government meet with representatives from the IPE to fully understand the challenges they are experiencing, and that the government identify a strategy to financially assist the IPE.

The Greater Vernon Chamber also encourages government assistance for other North Okanagan festivals that enhance tourism and provide economic stimulus to our region. They include Funtastic, Creative Chaos, Shoparama, Vernon Winter Carnival, the Okanagan Military Tattoo and the Vernon Proms Classic Music Festival.

 
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:    
Dan Proulx, General Manager   
Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
P: 250-545-0771              E: manager@vernonchamber.ca