The B.C. government says it is making changes to allow “smoother and faster” access to a program meant to help businesses targeted by vandalism.

The move comes after Global News reported some business owners found the application process for the Securing Small Business Rebate Program “onerous,” or were unable to qualify.

The program lets businesses apply for up to $2,000 for graffiti or vandalism repairs, and up to $1,000 for prevention measures. Between late November and early February, just $71,000 of the $10.5 million fund was paid out.

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

Click to play video: 'New Westminster businesses struggle with crime and street disorder'

New Westminster businesses struggle with crime and street disorder

“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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Under the changes, businesses will no longer be required to provide an insurance claim when applying for a repair grant, but will need to provide their insurance information.

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Businesses Global News spoke with had said they often do not lodge insurance claims for damage because the deductibles were higher than the cost of repairs.

Other changes include allowing businesses to self-install security measures and dropping the requirement that applicants show there is vandalism in the neighbourhood to access the prevention grants.

The province also announced Tuesday that it had eliminated the Feb. 29, 2024 deadline for grants relating to damage suffered in 2023.

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