The Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce held a wine and cheese following its annual general meeting on Thursday, Nov. 26.
Staff at the Chamber spent hours preparing a selection of appetizers for members who came out to hear about the year’s accomplishments and to see the new board of directors sworn in.
Highlights from the year included establishing a hotel and district municipal tax.
“It’s a hotel tax that has been put on in order to do marketing for Castlegar, and it’s actually to bring people into the city and make their hotel stays,” said Jane Charest, Chamber president. “By having the hotel stays, then they’ll utilize all the other businesses, you know, the restaurants, the shopping and that sort of thing. So it’s to help put Castlegar on the map.”
The Chamber has also started working toward the reconstruction of the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Centre building, which will hopefully break ground in 2016.
“The reason that we need a new building is because … the foundation [of our building] is actually having some issues, and so we had an engineer study done, and there’s no way that we can replace the foundation and we can’t fix it,” explained Tammy Verigin-Burk, the Chamber’s executive director.
The new building will have room for even more tenants.
“We’re going to increase who’s in the building so [as] to make sure that it really capitalizes on economic development as well as visitors, so it’s a whole experience when you walk into the building,” said Verigin-Burk.
The Chamber also significantly improved its finances this year.
Last year the Chamber’s expenses exceeded its revenues by $38,933, but this year expenses only exceeded revenues by $4,187, which can be completely accounted for by what the Chamber claimed for amortization expenses.
The Chamber will end the year with over $91,000 in the bank, up nearly $30,000 from what it had in the bank at the end of 2014.
Stuart Ady, the Chamber’s financial officer, said they were able to turn things around with “a lot of hard work from the Chamber directors, and a lot of hard work from the Chamber staff.”
Mayor Chernoff, who was on hand to inaugurate the new board of directors for 2016, gave a speech in which he noted that Castlegar’s building permits increased from $5.8 million in 2014 to $11,438,000 in 2015, and business licenses also increased by 30 licenses over last year’s total.
The Chamber’s board stayed largely the same, but both Chris D’Arcy and Stefan Duda stepped down, and three new directors were welcomed to the board: Kathy Sykes from Tim Hortons, Diana Draper from Clear Water Naturopathic Medicine, and Chuck Bennett from Black Press.
Some of the Selkirk Saints were also at the wine and cheese, providing free rides home for Chamber members and their vehicles.