BC Liberals call for grants to help businesses cope with crime costs

THE BC Liberals on Tuesday said that “in light of rampant crime in our communities” they were calling for a province-wide grant program — like the one proposed by the Business Improvement Areas of B.C. (BIABC) — to help small businesses cover costly security upgrades and property repairs.

“Not a day goes by that we don’t hear from small business owners who say they are on the brink of closing their establishments due to the crime wave that Premier David Eby has allowed to spiral out of control,” said Opposition House Leader Todd Stone, Critic for Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “Boosting security measures, replacing windows and cleaning up graffiti, needles and human waste isn’t just a terrible nuisance, it costs a lot of money. Small business owners have been pleading for help from this NDP government to no avail — and that has to change before it’s too late to save these establishments.”

The BIABC recently surveyed 500 businesses in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, and Victoria. When asked about the impact of crime and vandalism and how long they can continue to operate under these conditions, 9 per cent said less than one year; 17 per cent said one year; and a further 22 per cent suggested two years. Meanwhile, one-in-10 storefronts on Vancouver’s high streets are vacant, according to the Spring 2023 report from the Vancouver Economic Commission.

“Small businesses are the backbone of British Columbia — they keep our cities vibrant and are important job creators and economic contributors. Losing them is devastating to any community,” said Stone. “At a time when small businesses are already suffering due to high taxes, high rents and unfriendly NDP policies, they simply cannot afford the added costs associated with David Eby’s soft-on-crime policies.”

“Business vacancies are the highest in the areas most neglected by David Eby’s catch-and-release justice system,” said the BC Liberals. In the BIA of Hastings Crossing, vacancies are a staggering 28 per cent, they added.