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Vonnie Lavers has been informed she is ineligible for government funding
A Port Saunders businesswoman is not happy because of what she deems lack of help from the provincial government.
Since last year, Vonnie Lavers has been running the Harbour Vista, an Airbnb, out of a home she purchased in Port Saunders.
Thus far, she estimates to have invested about $204,000 in the property and now she’s turning to the provincial government for help.
Lavers, a person with an indigenous background, wants at least $100,000 funding to add an “indigenous cultural experience” to the setting.
However, she feels she’s being treated unfairly.
Since Lavers runs her Airbnb out of a residential property, she has been informed that she is ineligible for government funding.
Meanwhile, she claims to be aware of other AirBnBs in the province who have been able to procure funding because they are zoned commercial, not residential.
Lavers wishes she had more information when submitting her application to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation (TCII).
She claims she was unaware at the time that her property would be ineligible. She blames government officials for not providing her this information, so she could try to have the property re-zoned commercial before submitting the application.
“When I go meet with the economic development officer, should I not be given the same information? What would stop me from being a commercial business if I was given the same information, instead of being told there was nothing they could do to help?” Lavers asked.
TCII Minister Christopher Mitchelmore provided a statement to The Northern Pen indicating that businesses receiving funding are required to comply with the Tourism Establishment Act.
“Any business can contact a local TCII office to discuss business development opportunities to determine supports available from TCII as well as other business support agencies,” he wrote.
But for Lavers, the process has been frustrating.
“I just feel totally discouraged,” she said. “I’m not gonna invest any more private money when all around me people are getting government funds.”
She added that she did not wish to take out a loan from a banking institution.
Instead, Lavers says she will try to have the property re-zoned commercial through the town of Port Saunders and re-apply for funding.