Penticton Farmers’ Market vendors hit with fee

Council says it's unfair that out-of-town market vendors don't pay fees to the city

Besides bringing about 5,000 visitors to downtown Penticton on Saturday mornings during the summer, the Penticton Farmers’ Market and the Community Market will be contributing a little more this year.

Penticton council voted Monday evening to not only impose a blanket business licence fee on each of the markets, but to move its implementation up to this year rather than 2013 as recommended by staff.

The move has been in the works since July 2010, when council first voted on the matter. Consultation with the societies began, but the fee was not implemented in 2011 as first planned.

Doug Cox, a vendor at the farmers’ market, said it is time that the city impose a business licence fee, noting that many of the vendors come from neighbouring communities.

“It’s been a sore point for quite some time,” said Coun. Garry Litke. “People from out of town can bring their goods to our Main Street on a Saturday morning and sell them. They don’t pay any business licence, they don’t pay taxes to the City of Penticton, where down the street a legitimate business owner is doing those things.”

While the fees are small, amounting to an average of $10 per vendor for the season, a total of $400 for the Penticton Farmers’ Market and $1,000 for the community market, notice of the new fee comes after both societies had planned their budgets for the year.

But because the fee is so small, Litke wondered why it wasn’t being imposed immediately.

Julius Bloomfield had pointed out to city staff that bringing in the license fee at this point might pose problems for the non-profit groups that run the markets, the Penticton Farmers’ Market Society and the Downtown Penticton Association.

Bloomfield, president of the DPA, would have preferred to see the fee imposed in December or even January.

“We’re talking $10 here for the entire season of vending your apples or whatever,” said Litke, who eventually moved that the fee be imposed immediately.

Mayor Dan Ashton agreed, noting that the farmers’ market collects fees of $325 from each vendor.

“I think we heard what the revenue that is required from the society for the spaces is. I think there is an opportunity of a control factor,” said Ashton. “Every other business pays for a business licence in Penticton.”

“In 2013, we could have just built it into the budget. But now it is just going to look bad on the city because you want a business licence for this. Now we are going to have to go back to those vendors; a lot of them have already prepaid,” said Bloomfield.

“We are a non-profit society. At the end of the year, our bottom line is zero. The extra thousand dollars has to be found from somewhere, so we have to go back and ask for more money.”