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Feb9

The BWMC is reorganizing and met on Thursday Feb. 9, 2012 and the White Crystal Conference Room. Minutes as provided by Nikki Hepworth are below. Feel free to post comments. This is a temporary location for minutes until the Chamber can establish its own website.

Big White Chamber of Commerce Meeting

February 9th 2012

10:30am

Attendees:

Michael J Ballingall

John Mooney

Jason Valkenburg

Margaret Webb

Chris Davis

Jolleen Davis

Sarah Winton

Susan Green

Paddy Mustacitch

Mark Loftquist

Jude Brunt

Marie Martin

Mike Figursky

Pete Hutchinson

John Mooney opened the meeting with a question to Sarah Winton as to how the Chamber would work if we set one up at Big White?

 

Sarah Winton explains the Big White Chamber would work in partnership with the Regional Chamber creating marketing and advertising opportunities.

Start by appointing a Board of Directors that should be between 5 and 7 people, file a summary with Industry Canada, Sarah will let us know where to get that from.

The Big White Chamber that was set up previously is non-operational right now meaning that the new Big White Chamber can start from scratch.

 

Sarah Winton then outlined the benefits for Big White as a community to set up their own Chamber of Commerce:

There would be medical benefits in terms of more affordable insurance.

The Chamber would be there as an advocate the businesses within the resort.

The Chamber would develop policies to benefit the resort and businesses within it, as well as to make community improvements.

The Chamber would give all of the business owners a chance to communicate and get on the same page.

The money generated could be used for marketing and advertising for everyone.

 

Michael J also outlined some reasons as to why Big White would benefit from having it's own Chamber of Commerce.

At the moment Big White is the largest non-municipality in BC, Big White Ski Resort is a private company so is not recognized as a voice by the government.

This means that currently Big White as a Community has no voice, as there have been no formal documented discussions to express opinions. Electing board members and creating a chamber gives the community of Big White a voice to be able to speak and put forward suggestions to the government.

The first job of the new Chamber could be to address some of the issues with the road, upgrades, widening etc. There is already a road assessment underway that will highlight where the deficiencies are.

The Big White Chamber of Commerce would be eligible to collect a 2% tax on accommodation which could amount to as much as $750000 and is currently not being collected this could be used to build a resort municipality with infrastructure that would benefit the community i.e. a community centre.

 

Sarah Winton added that the Big White Chamber would need to speak to the government on a regional level and that Big White is a huge part of Boundary Country's tourism draw and issues. By working together issues could be put into a regional perspective.

 

Michael J disagreed and stated that Big White has seen nothing from all the tax dollars collected by the Regional Chamber as a result of the resort having very few votes. Big White does more for Boundary Country tourism than Boundary Country does for Big White.

 

Sarah Winton agreed that Boundary Country needs Big White more than Big White needs Boundary Country.

 

Michael J stated that currently Big White's tax money was going towards improving other communities not ours.

 

Dr Mike added that $300000 dollars was put towards the hospital in Grand Forks.

 

John Mooney then added that Bill Baird had a $60000 budget to distribute throughout the region and Big White saw only $5000 of that.

 

Michael J said that he meant no offence with what he said but at the moment the resort gets 1 meeting a year with the government where they have learnt that there is enough tax money to pay for hockey rinks to be built at Big White as well as there being enough interest from hockey schools to build a high altitude training facility which could then sustain Big White as a year round Resort.

$10000 was given to the government for a pheasibility study, that study was never started.

 

Sarah Winton said Big White needs the Chamber to be able to collect tax dollars.

 

Michael J suggested the chamber could submit a business plan to the government to get the ball rolling and have a budget for tourism and advertising.

There is only 1 Chamber in BC that has a budget for infrastructure, Richmond built infrastructure into their budget which there is the potential for Big White to do also. Enabling the chamber to get loans and grants with matched funds from the government for improvements in the community.

 

John Mooney agreed it would be great for the community to have a voice but there needed to be a paid position where that person takes care of the administrative duties so that everything discussed gets carried out.

 

Michael J said the first point of business would be to appoint a paid administrator, this could result in businesses needing to make contributions to start with before the tax dollars are available.

Michael J has spoken to Minister Bell who is happy to help as much as he can as Big White is the 2nd largest generator of funds in BC.

 

Jude asked where the 2% tax money collected would be used.

 

Michael J said the regional district still has to agree as to where the money is spent, this was what offended the community the last time the Chamber was started.

 

Sarah Winton agreed the government will always want their cut.

 

Dr Mike proposed more of an improvement fee than a tax.

 

Sarah Winton said the money collected would be for Big White and not shared with Boundary Country.

 

Michael J stated that less than 1% of Big White’s customers come from Boundary Country and that once people are at Big White they don’t generally travel anywhere else, even to Silver Star and especially not to Boundary Country.

Big White’s main tourism competitors are resorts that are further afield such as Aspen, Vail, Whistler etc. The government will benefit from this competition when more customers choose Big White as more dollars will be collected.

 

Dr Mike states the money collected should stay at Big White but the region currently still makes the decision as to where the funds are used.

 

Michael J used the example of Kelowna and West Kelowna having that issue if West Kelowna was part of Kelowna’s Chamber instead of creating their own.

He also stated that the purpose of the meeting was to figure out how to get Big White’s Chamber re-started and move forward.

 

Sarah Winton outlined the process which starts with putting together a board, these can be volunteers until the first AGM where then board members will be elected. Board members then need to go through the by-laws carefully as they will affect decisions made. The by-laws can be changed by the Chamber.

 

Mark has looked at the by-laws and said they are pretty open right now and not much will need to be changed.

 

Michael J asked if there was a specific way the board needed to be elected i.e. Treasurer, Secretary, Chairman etc. This is determined by what is written in the by-laws.

 

Sarah Winton stated the Boundary Country Chamber was set up that way but it doesn’t have to be. Also if Big White has a separate Chamber then the Boundary Country Chamber cannot infringe on that unless the Big White Chamber were to dissolve completely.

 

Michael J said Big White could become part of the Boundary Country Chamber if there was not enough interest to set up a separate Big White Chamber.

 

Sarah Winton stated it would make more sense for Big White to have their own Chamber but there are benefits from the 2 Chambers working together. She also recommended a paid employee to carry out what the Chamber decides as that can be tough to do with a volunteer.

The next step is to appoint a board and file the summary with Industry Canada.

 

Mark stated the minimum that should come of this meeting is to get a board appointed, set an AGM date then the board can be elected at that time.

He also stated there was a lot of resentment from business owners in the community from the things that happened with the chamber in the past. Big White Ski Resort and the business owners need to work together as 1 unit.

 

John Mooney said last time the restaurant businesses were not well represented and he would like to see that change this time.

He also offered to get the paperwork started.

 

Jude suggested Marie could do that and step into the paid position.

The person who is appointed in that position would also go to regional district meetings to speak for Big White and take minutes.

 

All Attendees were asked who would volunteer for the board, board members at this time are:

 

Michael J Ballingall

Mark Loftquist

Jude Brunt

Margaret Webb

John Mooney

Marie Martin

Chris Davis

 

Michael J said that the board can now start work by getting the necessary paperwork done, setting an agenda and an AGM date.

 

Sarah Winton offered to leave a package outlining the fees etc used by the Boundary Country Chamber to give the Big White Chamber some guidance to get started.

She also thought it would be beneficial to meet with herself and Bill Baird so that they could go back to the BEDC with exactly what Big White Chamber’s needs are.

She suggested Ross Castleton as a good contact and will pass contact information on to Marie.

 

Dr Mike questioned how Big White ended up being classified as Boundary Country.

 

Michael J stated the road dictates the boundary area and the lines are blurred as to where the boundaries are. Big White Rd is currently a private road which is why there is no government funding however if they changed it to a highway there would be. From a marketing point of view the name Big White Road is more beneficial.

From his point of view the first things the Chamber should concentrate on are getting the road upgraded to increase customer satisfaction as well as to make it easier for people to live up here year round. Then work on getting the hockey rinks built to sustain the resort year round, getting more funding which would come from the increased taxes.

He also stated lots of customers complain about the state of the road with washboards at the side and stone chips in their vehicles etc.

Bill Baird has been to Big White but didn’t receive much back up from the Chamber in the summer when the resort is not open, the Chamber would need to support him year round to make a difference.

 

Jude agreed that having a summer business up here would benefit all.

 

John Mooney made the point that taxes going up will scare or disgruntle property owners, the Chamber will need to be clear with everyone about what their objectives are and the positive changes they can make.

 

Michael J suggested having a meeting before the end of February and thanked everyone for attending. He also suggested getting more people to participate but his thoughts were that only 1 person from Big White Ski Resort should attend.

 

Mark thought once word gets around about the plans the Chamber has to make positive changes for everyone there will be more interest.

 

11. 45am - Meeting Ended

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