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B.C. to ease program rules compensating businesses for vandalism

Entrepreneurs no longer need to make insurance claims to be eligible for Securing Small Business Rebate Program payouts.
Davie Art Shop owner Philip Tran last year paid out of his own pocket to repair a broken window at his store

Business owners who have paid out of pocket to repair broken windows or other vandalism may soon find it easier to apply for government compensation.

The B.C. government plans to change eligibility rules in its Securing Small Business Rebate Program to make it easier for impacted business owners to apply for financial support.

The program, which went into effect last year, allows business owners to apply for up to $2,000 to repair graffiti or vandalism, and up to $1,000 to install measures to prevent vandalism.

Very little money has been doled out.

Last month, the government revealed that only $71,308 of the allotted $10.5 million had been paid to businesses between late November, when the program started, and early February.

The reason few business owners got money was because they had to provide proof that they had claimed the damage with their insurance companies.

Many small business owners have told BIV that damage to their properties was not significant enough to make it viable to file an insurance claim.

“Last year, my front window was broken but I didn't claim it on my insurance because when I looked at the deductible, it was about the same,” Davie Art Shop owner Philip Tran told BIV this afternoon.

He said he thinks the change to the program is a smart move.

So does Marquis Wine Cellars owner John Clerides, who has been outspoken about the rise of street disorder in his neighbourhood.

“Most people do not report vandalism on their insurance because their insurance rates will go up dramatically,” he said.

“It’s just not worth their time to do so they pay for it out of their pockets.”

He said business owners have told the West End Business Improvement Association about this situation and he believes that is one of the organizations that was lobbying government to change its rules.

He would like to see the province provide more money for recovery programs so drug addicts can get help becoming sober.

The updated rules for the Securing Small Business Rebate Program are expected to require business owners to simply provide their insurance company’s name and their policy number – not information about a specific claim.

Business owners will also newly be able to self-install equipment to prevent vandalism but only the value of the equipment would be eligible for compensation, not their own labour.

The government also plans to remove a requirement that applicants demonstrate that there is vandalism in their community in order to be eligible for compensation for installing preventative measures.

Finally, the government plans to remove what had been a Feb. 29 deadline to apply for compensation for installing equipment to prevent vandalism or for repairing vandalism in 2023.

“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,” Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, said in a press release. “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.”

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