Castlegar Chamber of Commerce executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk (Photo by Betsy Kline)

Tammy Verigin-Burk: Castlegar residents will live local

Here come the 2020s: Castlegar News asked local leaders to offer their thoughts on the new decade.

Castlegar Chamber of Commerce executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk says the goal of the chamber in the next decade will be to have a dream of a sustainable community come to fruition.

A sustainable community in our view encaptures shop local, eat local, support local, think local, enjoy local and volunteer local (the last is one is often forgotten). When we live a local first focus, an energy is created that changes the way we look, see, and feel about our community. When citizens are fueled by a positive force of creating a sustainable, thriving community, we all prosper.

As we embrace a sustainable community we understand that we are our own ambassadors. Every time we give a smile, a wave or ask a stranger how their day is, we move in the direction of wellness and support that builds a strong community where everyone is equal.

Every touch point of communication we have with a visitor to our city may be the one time we have to make our mark that will encourage a person to stay an extra hour, night or week supporting local businesses, or think about relocation or starting a business from their authentic experiences with locals. We never know how much a few words can do to impact a person’s life. Impressions by locals are what every visitor holds in their memories. Think Local. Support Local.

With growth and expansion comes jobs and more citizens to shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants or use our professional services. Supporting our local businesses not only means that our businesses thrive but we lessen our carbon footprint by not needing to travel to shop outside of our city/region for products or have our products flown in.

To think and support local we need to act. While we may be quick to choose the internet to shop, we need to take the time to see if a local store can match or come close to the same price. We need to consider the cost to travel to a city such as Kelowna or Spokane for that $100 savings on a product that could have been bought local or the impact that will happen when we all choose to not support our local businesses. Shop Local. Eat Local.

Our local businesses not only provide jobs for our citizens, they support our local charities, schools, sports teams, events so we are able to enjoy a quality of activity and entertainment as well as supporting those in need. Think Local.

Lastly, a few words on volunteerism. The thread that binds our community together. How many hours do we give to our community a year? In order to have a food bank, a Communities in Bloom program, Sculpturewalk, Sunfest, Pass Creek Fall Fair and Kootenay Festival, to name just a few, we need countless volunteers.

Often we see it’s the same ones. We see the faces of all citizens when they experience the incredible events offered in our community. It fills our souls with laughter, social experience and community. Critical to fill our souls. Most events are 100 per cent reliant on volunteers. What do we do in a month? Imagine how sustainable and remarkable our community would be if every citizen, regardless of age, gave a minimum of two hours per month to volunteer … just two hours a month would give over 190,000 hours each year. Volunteer Local. Enjoy Local.

Shop Local. Eat Local. Support Local. Think Local. Enjoy Local. Volunteer Local. The results of our whole community embracing this will create a sustainable future for all of us by 2030 and beyond.

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