B.C. updates rebate program to help businesses access funding for vandalism repairs

The province is updating a rebate program to make it easier for small businesses to offset the costs to repair and prevent vandalism. Kate Walker reports.

The province has updated its rebate program to help small businesses offset costs after the business community reported barriers with the original application process.

In a release, B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation states the Securing Small Business Rebate Program is “making changes to offer a smoother and faster application process” to help businesses access funding for costs related to repair and vandalism.

As part of the original program, businesses can apply for up to $2,000 for vandalism-related repairs and up to $1,000 for vandalism-prevention measures.

Ross Lam has worked in his family business, Forum Home Appliances, in Chinatown for over 30 years.

His business has been vandalized multiple times, with bricks thrown through the glass, the building graffitied, and items stolen from his shop. However, he hasn’t applied for the rebate because he heard others had to go through a lot of hurdles during the application process.

“It comes out of the bottom line. Small businesses aren’t in a position to raise our prices, so we kind of just have to eat the loss,” he said.

Some of the changes to the rebate program include removing the requirement to provide an insurance claim when applying for repair funding. Applicants will just need to show their insurance and policy number. Also, self-installations will be permitted and eligible equipment will be reimbursed.

“The security gate that we put in, we installed it ourselves, so that’s something that we can claim,” said Lam.

The province is working with the BC Chamber of Commerce on this program, which was first introduced in the fall.

“When I became aware of the challenges some businesses were having in applying for the program, I immediately connected with the BC Chamber of Commerce and small business owners to hear their concerns,” said Brenda Bailey, minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation.

“Our goal is to get the money out the door and in the pockets of our hard-working small business owners, so we are taking action on the issues being raised and taking steps to make changes to the application process.”

Part of the update also means removing the application deadline of Feb. 29, 2024, for preventative and reparative applications being filed for 2023.

Now, applications will be accepted until the program ends in 2025.

Those who wish to apply can do so under the BC Chamber of Commerce application portal, which is expediting the changes to help distribute a total of $10.5 million to small businesses.

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