The Village of Cumberland is considering an offer from the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Council was not looking at full membership but some kind of sponsorship arrangement.
“It’d make us a non-voting member,” Cumberland’s economic development officer Kaelin Chambers told council at a meeting in late May.
He outlined the possibilities and wanted direction from council on whether the village should explore a relationship.
“They’ve done a lot of things that we’ve missed out on in the past,” he said.
Coun. Jesse Ketler credited the chamber of commerce for helping businesses through the region affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
“They’ve provided so many business services,” she said.
However, she questioned how a local government would fit within the chamber membership because of its different mandate.
“I’m not sure how that works for us…. They’re there to serve their members. It’s a specific group of the population and not necessarily the broader population,” she said.
One concern that arose at the meeting was that the chamber had put amalgamation of local governments on the agenda during municipal elections in the past.
Chambers said he understood the concern. He explained a priority for the village is to work with its local community business association (CBA) to get more members, who can then take advantage of a relationship with the chamber.
Mayor Leslie Baird agreed with the concerns expressed but suggested they consider the sponsorship agreement. Through this, Cumberland will be a non-voting member and sponsor to provide funding to help with chamber events or projects that support the village’s interests.
At present, Cumberland budgets about $1,000 for inclusion in chamber initiatives. This has helped with the chamber’s state of the economy breakfasts, which surveys local businesses.
“Our agreement will be very specific about how that money’s used,” Chambers said.
The staff recommendation suggested a sponsorship agreement will provide better cost certainty and clearer direction on how the chamber can support the village’s economic interests.
“I think it’s worth looking into,” Baird said.
Council passed a motion to add funding to the 2022-2026 financial plan bylaw for the sponsorship agreement with the Comox Chamber of Commerce in support of Cumberland’s business and economic development interests.