Penticton Downtown Community Markets were cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a debate over vendor fee refunds between the Downtown Penticton Association and market vendors. (Photo by Downtown Penticton Association)

Dowtown Penticton Assocation to partially refund Community Market vendors

Vendors were upset with the original decision not to provide refunds after the market’s cancellation

After a lengthy battle between the Downtown Penticton Association (DPA) and Downtown Community Market vendors, the DPA has announced they will be refunding vendors, partially at least, for their 2020 vendor fees.

The DPA will be refunding all vendors $125 less than what they paid in vendor fees.

The 2020 markets were forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the DPA found themselves in a financial deficit after expenses, explained the DPA in lengthy statement.

After the markets were cancelled, the DPA originally announced they would not be refunding vendor fees, causing an uproar among vendors.

READ MORE: Online marketplace for downtown Penticton businesses an opportunity to support local

The DPA, they explained in their statement, exists to represent downtown property owners and is funded entirely by a special levy, through the city’s property tax system, and paid for by property owners in the defined Business Improvement Area (BIA).

As well as this function, the DPA also takes on the responsibility of coordinating promotions and events, which bring people downtown to enhance the business opportunities for the merchants. These programs and events, such as the market, are self-funded as the property owners do not fund promotions and events.

“The cost of the market is the vendors’ responsibility as they are the ones that profit directly from a well-organized market, which attracts thousands of people,” reads the DPA’s statement.

“It should be realized, that the market is of no direct benefit to many of our businesses and services in the downtown core including the doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, various other service industries and property owners that all make their offices in the BIA and pay the levy to run the DPA.”

The main benefit of the market for the DPA, they explained, is introducing people to the downtown that may not otherwise come into the downtown core.

To reimburse vendors for their market fees, the DPA will be putting themselves in a financial deficit that will be covered by the downtown property owners.

The DPA explained that they collected $95,000 from vendors, and spent $55,000 on market expenses, leaving them with $40,000 left to repay vendors.

After the decision to refund all vendors their market fees minus $125 for each vendor, the DPA will be left with an estimated deficit of $31,250.

The downtown building owners, the DPA said, will finance this deficit in the short-term until it can be recovered.

The DPA made the decision to settle the matter with vendors due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty regarding the 2021 markets.

“We trust that this latest and final offer from the DPA will satisfy most vendors and allow the DPA to get back to its main function of promoting business within the BIA,” the DPA said in their statement.

Moving forward, the market seems to have a volatile and uncertain future ahead of it, due to health and safety concerns, insurance changes, and the deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, they explained.

The online markets, which had originally been introduced to fill the void of the community market, will also be postponed until further notice of future markets.

Vendor refund cheques, the DPA said, will be mailed out by Friday, May 22.

READ MORE: Penticton’s downtown community markets cancelled


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