Chamber Advocates for Event Professionals

Welcoming Wedding and Event Industry to the Table a Chamber Priority

Photo Credit:  Lota Love Photography

Wedding and event planners are back to helping clients celebrate with cake since COVID-19 Public Health Orders have been adjusted to once again allow gatherings.

Many wedding and event professionals essentially found themselves abandoned at the altar in these last few years, as those looking to celebrate their love with friends and family present were put on standby due to COVID-19 Public Health Orders (PHOs).

Weddings and other organized gatherings—both indoor and outdoor—are now permitted in BC, with limitations like proof of vaccination and masks required. Still, this glimmer of hope for an industry severely impacted by restrictions and lack of clear guidelines is coming a little late for some.

“From the very beginning, the events industry was in trouble; we were the first to shut down, and we were the last to reopen just a few weeks ago,” says Danielle Peet, Founder & Lead Planner of Wild Smile Events. “During that entire time, we were never given safety plans so we could reopen, we did not receive financial support, and we were never given a chance to come to the table and have conversations.”

The non-ticketed wedding and event industry saw an approximate 70-90% loss in revenue, but did not qualify for most government-provided financial aid. With 90% of her work catering to destination clientele, Peet counts herself lucky to still be in business. She has spent the last few years advocating at a grassroots level with industry peers who meet via Zoom and through Facebook groups like Love in the time of COVID and Reopen Weddings & Events.

Peet shared her concerns with Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy, who connected with South Kootenay business at the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce’s bi-annual meeting on February 11th during Chamber Week. Her industry’s bid to find a place at the table to ensure this doesn’t happen again is now supported by the Chamber.

“We are a very large industry of professionals who bring a lot of money into the provincial economy—about $1.2 billion per year. This represents thousands of small business owners who have essentially been forgotten about for two years,” says Peet. “I know many have suffered, and I’m not one to make a stink, but I need to start making a fuss because it’s not just my livelihood; it affects hundreds of my friends in this community, many of whom are now left scrambling and financially stressed.”

The Trail & District Chamber of Commerce will present a policy resolution at the BC Chamber’s upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM). The Chamber recommends the provincial government works alongside a task force of professional event planners to ensure consultation on policy changes and allow non-ticketed events to safely resume. Additionally, the Chamber requests that the government reevaluate PHOs so that there is clear and understandable language about the classification of non-ticketed events, and create payroll and rent support programs so professional event companies have access to cash flow to support successful reopening.

“It’s been amazing to see how quickly and how much energy the Chamber has put into ensuring that we can have our story told,” says Peet. “The support through the connections they have has also been beneficial. It’s been reassuring to know we have them standing by our side.”

The wedding and event planning industry is growing within the South Kootenay region. Peet alone takes on an estimated 30 weddings a year, plus about the same in corporate events. She works collaboratively with approximately 10 other creative professionals per event to ensure every detail comes together in a collective vision. That has a considerable impact on the local economy, according to the Chamber’s Executive Director Erika Krest. 

“These events can bring in 150-plus guests to our hotels, our shopping centres, and our restaurants,” adds Krest. “There have been many in the region who have felt the pinch, including DJs, photographers, videographers, florists, and caterers. It’s important to set up some clear guidelines for these folks who work so hard to bring joy to special events in our lives.”

If the policy resolution is passed at the BC Chamber’s AGM, held June 8-9 in Prince George, the resolution will be presented to the provincial government and be considered on the books for three years, informing the organization’s pan-provincial advocacy efforts.


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