The Ucluelet chamber of commerce needs your help.
During a public meeting held in Ucluelet last week, Coun. Mayco Noel urged local business owners to lend their voice to the chamber’s board.
“Whether you can make even three meetings a year for the chamber you’ll add some value,” he said.
With the chamber transitioning away from visitors services and revamping its focus on local businesses, Noel said the board has an important role to play in convincing local consumers to shop locally.
“It’s about us thinking about the dollars we spend,” he said. “The chamber of commerce, I think, is going to play a big role in that.”
Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques noted the chamber is celebrating its 70th birthday this year and is “just getting revved up” to reinvent itself as a the voice for local businesses now that the town’s visitor services responsibilities have moved to Tourism Ucluelet.
“The chamber is the business group’s voice. They can lobby for you. They can do a lot of work for you,” she said. “They’re the group that can stand up and make a difference for you.”
Chamber board-member Suzanne Ryles spoke during the meeting and said the chamber’s 13-member board currently has just six members.
“We know that we have a lot of work to do but right now we need other people,” she said. “We need more people to join and help with our ideas.”
The chamber will receive a funding bump this year as $30,000 is heading its way from the district’s business licence revenue coffers, up from $24,000 last year, according St. Jacques.
“This year, we bumped it up to $30,000 because it’s a transition year for the chamber and because of the loss of visitor services and monies that they had that came as a result of visitor services,” she said. “There’s nothing to guarantee that the chamber will get $30,000 next year. It could go to some other form of economic development.”
Coun. Mayco Noel said council felt it was important to support the local chamber as the organization reinvents itself.
“Up to this point, the district has been trying to fund visitor services through the chamber of commerce and there just was never enough funding. It was always a financial burden for the chamber,” he said.
“Pulling that funding from visitor services, the chamber would sink. So we said, ‘Okay, we’re going to have to help them for one year, for the transition period...Let’s recreate it. Let’s help the chamber for the one year to bridge 2017 so we can move forward.’”
St. Jacques added tourists will now be footing the visitor services bill as Tourism Ucluelet is funded by the Municipal, Regional District Tax, formerly known as the additional hotel room tax.
The tax is an additional 2 per cent charge paid for by visitors and collected by Ucluelet’s fixed roof accommodation providers.
“As a community, we don’t fund Tourism Ucluelet,” St. Jacques said.
“That money is the 2 per cent that hotels and accommodations collect. That’s they’re budget that they work with. Their mandate is to improve the tourism economy by marketing and now visitor services.”