Village, Chamber commit to increased dialogue on Pemberton business 

Chamber president ponders how Pemberton can market itself more effectively

The time has come for the Village of Pemberton and the District Chamber of Commerce to talk more.

And at a Committee of the Whole meeting this week they resolved to do just that.

The two parties met after the Chamber sent a letter to the Village asking it to account for the work it has done to stimulate business in Pemberton and what it has done to ensure the future economic, social and environmental well being of the community.

Village Administrator Daniel Sailland responded with an 18-page report detailing the municipality's tax revenue, how its rates compare to other communities and various capital projects upon which the Village has spent taxpayers' money.

"This is a question that's asked by and of a lot of governments and so it boils down to philosophical approaches as much as it boils into some specifics," Sailland said at the meeting. "Staff didn't have enough time to put together a full academic study, however we did go into the various elements of how we operate and what has been done the last little while."

Speaking about the Village as though it were a business, and taxpayers its investors, Sailland said that it collects taxes in six different categories: residential, utilities, light industry, commercial, recreation/non-profit and farm. These revenue streams netted the Village $927,360.47 in 2008; $967,080.18 in 2009; and $1,015,349.78 in 2010.

The administrator went on to explain that these revenues have netted Village "investors" a "Return on Investment" of 94 per cent. By this he meant that for the money they took in, the Village was able to obtain 94 per cent more in revenues and government grants.

In 2008, for example, the Village took in an extra $447,503 in revenue, 48 per cent of the $928,360.47 in tax revenue it got from property and business owners. In 2009 it got 123 per cent of the revenue it took in; and in 2010 it took in 109 per cent more in grants and revenue than the taxes it collected.

Government grants can end up going to capital projects like the skateboard park located next to the Cottonwood Community Centre, or a new trail project or even a sewer line, projects that are meant to benefit the community as a whole.

Sailland explained in his report that in business, most investors pay attention to an opportunity with a 10 per cent return on investment. If the Village of Pemberton were a business, according to the administrator's report, it would exceed that nine times over.

He went on to explain that 17 per cent of the Village's tax collected is spent on businesses within its boundaries. That includes the Napa Auto shop, the Rona store and the Pemberton Valley Supermarket.

Chamber President Mark Blundell said Sailland produced a "wonderful" report on what the Village has done to stimulate business in the community, but he said he still has concerns about what officials are doing to promote the Pemberton brand outside town.

He brought up the example of an economic symposium held in Whistler on Monday where B.C. Finance Minister and Tourism Minister Pat Bell were in attendance. He said not one representative of the Village of Pemberton was in attendance.

"I would have a concern that maybe we, as people, whenever we are trying to market and promote our community, I really don't believe we do enough of that," Blundell said. "I think we need to work together as a Chamber. I would travel to any conference you want to go to, I would even suggest that the business community would pick up part of it and travel to these conferences when they're promoting their communities."

Blundell went on to say that the letter wasn't meant to criticize the Village, but to bring it together with the Chamber to discuss issues relating to what many see as a slow economy in Pemberton. He acknowledged that much of the community's economy depends on tourist traffic to Whistler, and he said he heard from Whistler businesspeople attending the symposium that some of them are down anywhere from six per cent to 20 per cent.

Kirsten McLeod, a former Village councillor and now vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, said it might be time for Pemberton to look at economic sectors besides tourism.

"Just going to the economic forum yesterday in Whistler, it's going to be a very long recovery period it sounds like," she said. "So tourism's going to be affected for a very long time, so we need to look at other options in Pemberton."



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