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Hundreds of B.C. businesses apply for vandalism fund

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More than 600 businesses in B.C. have applied to a provincial rebate program to help prevent and repair damage from vandalism, according to the Ministry of Jobs and Economic Development.

The $10.5-million Securing Small Business Rebate Program launched Nov. 22 and allows businesses to apply for as much as $2,000 per business for the cost of repairs due to vandalism. It also provides up to $1,000 for prevention measures, such as the installation of security cameras and shatter-proof glass.

Sunan Spriggs, the owner of CityLux Boutique in Downtown Vancouver, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on repairs due to vandalism since 2020. Spriggs said the grant is a welcome initiative to support B.C. businesses.

“It’s very helpful, especially when small businesses right now are really suffering from the shrinkage in consumer spending.” she said. “It’s coming at a really important time for us.”

‘A WELCOME ADDITION’

The program is administered through the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, who said businesses can make a claim for one incident per year.

Fiona Famulak, the president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce called the program “vital,” adding the organization has heard from businesses in both rural and urban areas about the need to address property crime.

“The cost of making repairs in response to vandalism, or the cost of taking preventative measures is adding to the cost of doing business, which we know is already very high in this province,” Famulak said. “The program I think is a welcome addition.”

20,000 APPLICATIONS

And while the program is being received well, it hasn’t come without some initial challenges.

According to Teri Smith, the executive director with The West End Business Improvement Association, some businesses are having difficulty with their application due to documentation requirements such as filing a police report and proof of insurance.

In a statement to CTV News, Smith said, “Unfortunately, when it comes to this type of vandalism, a lot of businesses are not reporting to the police for broken windows that are not part of another crime, such as break and enter or where extreme damage is caused.”

The program will be taking applications until Jan. 31, 2025. The B.C. Chamber of Commerce is expecting to receive up to 20,000 applications.

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