Whistler Chamber members vote to accept 20 per cent fee increase 

Chamber of commerce memberships now at least $50 more per year, depending on staff numbers

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - RATE REVIVED Fiona Famulak presenting at the BC Chamber AGM in Penticton.
  • File photo
  • RATE REVIVED Fiona Famulak presenting at the BC Chamber AGM in Penticton.

Resolution A is a go and it means that, as of September 1, 94 per cent of Whistler Chamber of Commerce members will pay $50 a year more to be members.

The Chamber of Commerce board of directors first introduced the notion of increasing membership fees on July 10.

On Wednesday, July 25 a total of 40 members attended the special summer meeting and voted on the resolution with 29 voting in favour of the rate hike.

Five voters indicated they opposed the increase and five others abstained from the vote.

The current membership fee is $250 for 719 members, all with 49 or fewer employees. The fee will now increase to $300 for those employers, while the resort's largest employer, Whistler Blackcomb, will see a $600 increase to $3,600 a year based on staffing levels.

Going by the current members list, the money raised would total $43,320 for 762 members, according to background information for Resolution A. The amount paid by the members before the increase comes to $201,600 annually.

In advance of the vote, chamber president Fiona Famulak said the proposed increase would be the first increase in a long time for members.

"The rate that we've increased fees for the last four years has not kept pace with the growth and programs and services we've developed and delivered over that same period in order to support our membership, so it's now time to make that adjustment," Famulak said.

She added at the meeting that the increase isn't required to cover the organization's 2011 deficit because the deficit is addressed in the 2012 budget.

"The board and myself put together a budget for 2012 that is resourceful, creative and helps to start to replenish the deficit that was created in 2011, starting in 2012," Famulak said in an interview earlier this month — a point she reiterated at the special meeting. "We're on track to be doing that. We're only halfway through the year but the plans we put in place at the beginning of this year are rolling out."

She told the members gathered at the special meeting that the fee increase addresses past increases in program costs and future cost increases.

"This is about planning for the future and ensuring our members have what they need," said Famulak.

She pointed out that between 2005 and 2011 the Chamber of Commerce absorbed between 16 and 18 per cent increases for the cost of programs. Famulak said the fee increase will cover those increased costs while also preparing the organization for future cost increases.

Famulak also reassured members that the new membership fee structure is in line with the fees charged by other business organizations around the province. North Vancouver charges $225 a year for membership and, at the upper end of the scale, Famulak said her research revealed that the Chamber of Commerce members in the small northern B.C. community of Houston pay $750 a year in membership fees.

—With files from Cathryn Atkinson

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