The City of Kimberley is currently negotiating its fee for service contract with the Chamber of Commerce, and there was a wide ranging discussion this past Monday evening at the regular Council meeting as to what the contract should entail, or if there should be a grant rather than a contract.
Council was provided with a report from Director of Economic Development Kevin Wilson, which summarized Chamber activities, successes and where more work could be done.
Chamber activities were reoriented in 2012, handing over the Visitor’s Centre to Tourism Kimberley and focusing more on business development. Paid Chamber membership has grown by 15 per cent in 2013 and 2014, Wilson reported. Events such as Canada Day, Platzl Light Up and JulyFest have all shown growth in attendance.
Wilson presented council with several options, recommending that the City continue with a fee for service contract of $27,500, the same as the previous, although the Chamber had requested an increase in funding. Part of that contract would be removal of the Chamber’s part in events such as Light Up and Canada Day, with more business-focused events such as Kimberley Business Expo, open late Thursdays, and the Investment Opportunities Tour added.
Coun. Ben Middlebrook said she was not convinced on the “bang for the buck” the City was receiving for the money.
Coun. Kent Goodwin said he was concerned that by removing events such as Canada Day and Light Up from the contract, the events might not happen.
“One of the issues the Chamber grapples with is events versus business advocacy,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “We discussed doing away with fee for service and moving to a standing grant, so you aren’t micro-managing.
“We wouldn’t task other organizations to account for money before we give it. We ask for an full accounting after.”
Middlebrook said she felt it should remain a contract where the Chamber does required things for the funds.
Coun. Kitto said with a grant, you still hold an organization to task or they don’t get the money the next year.
McCormick said he agreed with both points. He also added that the Chambers request for an additional $14,500 had been denied.
“Every municipality subsidizes its Chamber,” he said. “In other communities the visitor centre is run by the Chamber. In our case the $32,000 for running the visitor centre goes to Tourism Kimberley.”
The Chamber currently has 138 paid memberships, the Mayor said, and while the push is always on to have more members, 200 would likely be the maximum.
Middlebrook noted that when the economy wasn’t great, businesses looked for ways to cut back and Chamber memberships could be one of the ways they do so if they don’t see the value for their money.
“It’s all about accountability,” Goodwin said. “The current way we do it (fee for service contract) at least we require them to be accountable.”
In the end Council decided to continue with a fee for service contract.