The County of Wetaskiwin will wait until budget deliberations in April to decide how it wants to proceed with support it gives to the Wetaskiwin and District Chamber of Commerce. The decision was passed at county council’s Feb. 16 meeting.
Chamber of Commerce president Randy Plant and executive director Judi Best made a presentation to councillors at the meeting: catching them up to date on chamber activities, how it has been fairing since the City of Wetaskiwin canceled its service agreement with the Visitor Information Center and the Chamber of Commerce relocated to 4819 49 Avenue.
“But that definitely does not mean it’s the end of the Wetaskiwin and District Chamber of Commerce. We’re much more than a visitors centre so we will continue to grow and and continue to be a leader,” said Best.
“Since the contract was cancelled we’ve taken on five new members. We’re very happy to see that, we were a little concerned,” she added. On Jan. 2 2016 the chamber had 235 and by Jan. 5 it had increased by five.
The Chamber of Commerce feels there may have been some misconceptions regarding the cancelled contract, it was strictly for the Visitor Information Centre, says Best.
Like many others, the Wetaskiwin and District Chamber of Commerce is facing a lean budget this year. Best says that is a contributing factor to why the chamber will not continue to hold the Wetaskiwin Summer Festival. “With the lack of income from the city and this is a city-wide event, we decided it was not in our best financial position to continue.”
Best told the councillors the Chamber of Commerce saw a deficit last year because of the summer festival.
However, Best says the Chamber of Commerce is in the middle of developing a two-day Christmas market, primarily for smaller and home-based businesses that do not have the resources to be a part of the Spring Showcase.
The Chamber of Commerce is no longer in the deficit it faced in 2015. It is projecting $108,000 to $110,000 in revenue and $93,270 in program and operating expenses. Best says there is an estimated $15,530 profit.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers asked if the Town of Millet contributed any funds. Best said it never has and is only a member.
In order to move forward and keep the chamber as efficient and feasible as possible Best says it is moving from 10 to four luncheons per year as she was finding people were having trouble committing.
Chamber requests new county representative
Best has also noticed the county appointed representative — Coun. Pearl Hay — had not been attending meetings on a regular basis and sent a letter to county CAO Frank Coutney requesting a new representative. Her actions did not sit well with councillors.
“First of all Frank isn’t elected, we are. We appoint once a year, that’s who you get,” said Rooyakkers.
“A letter was sent to you in October, Frank cannot change that. He did bring the letter to council,” she added.
The county representative is a non-voting, liaison position, which members of council were also concerned with. Previously it was a voting position “I think before we were seen as partners, that’s been removed,” said Rooyakkers.
Coun. Larry McKeever was concerned with the non-voting position because of a perceived conflict of interest. “I sit on 10 or 12 boards, I switch hats all the time. I think I do it well.”
“We looked at it as a board and we felt that, I don’t know if I want to necessarily say it’s a direct conflict of interest. It could be maybe best looked at as a perceived conflict of interest,” said Plant.
Rather than having the representatives vote the chamber wants the position to be two-way information sharing partnership.
When asked Hay said she had not been attending the meetings because she found not voting “boring” and also mentioned the fact she can vote on other boards she sits on.