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Business Walks survey provides positive feedback on local economy

Councillor Juliette Cunningham (L) and Lara Konkin of the DVA visit businesses downtown during the 2016 Business Walks.
Image Credit: City of Vernon/Sproing Creative photo
November 28, 2016 - 4:23 PM

The City of Vernon, in partnership with the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures North Okanagan and the Downtown Vernon Association, held its fourth annual Business Walks on October 28.

A total of 21 volunteers—11 teams—met with 112 businesses in locations throughout the city during a two hour period. Each business was asked six questions in order to gain a better understanding of the current economic conditions in Vernon and to learn how business service providers can better meet the needs of the business community.

Kevin Poole, Manager of Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Vernon, said the results provide valuable information to City staff.

“This is the fourth year we have undertaken the Business Walks program,” said Poole. “The program provides us with a great snapshot of the current economic conditions, and provides businesses with an opportunity to provide feedback to the City of Vernon and other business service providers. Ninety-two per cent of businesses stated that their business was either steady or growing, which is reflective of the economic growth that Vernon is experiencing.”

Other notable feedback included:


Concerns regarding parking are commonly heard in the annual Business Walks. In particular, several businesses located in the City Centre expressed the need for more adequate customer and staff parking, as well as loading areas. Businesses outside the downtown also had concerns which ranged from poor parking lot layouts to access issues and unsafe crosswalks.


In contrast with previous Business Walk surveys, safety was identified as a business challenge this year, second only to parking. Safety concerns included comments regarding aggressive panhandling, increases in the transient population and the impact of drug use and addiction in terms of littering.

Business concerns involved both the safety of staff and customers alike. These concerns were most pronounced among downtown businesses and among businesses located at Fruit Union Plaza, Vernon Square Shopping Centre and The Shops at Polson Park.

Area specific events and marketing

Businesses also identified the need for more marketing and community events. These events could provide opportunities to promote businesses, as well as help increase foot traffic and exposure to the City’s various commercial areas, including those outside the downtown.

An example of a suggested marketing effort was a “Keep it Local” campaign. A community job fair was another suggestion of a coordinated community wide event that would benefit the business community (finding employees was identified by 17 per cent of businesses as a current challenge).

“We are very fortunate in Vernon to have such great partners as we couldn’t undertake this program without the support that we’ve received from Community Futures North Okanagan, the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Vernon Association and other volunteers from the business community,” said Poole.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2016

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