The Town of Smithers has given the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce a grant of $20,000.
In putting forward the motion at the May 26 regular meeting of council, Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill noted the Chamber is looking at up to $65,000 in lost revenue due to COVID-19, $15,000 from membership dues and $23,000-$50,000 in event income.
“The Chamber is providing critical service to community businesses, both its members and non-members with help in grant-writing, aiding people [to] work their way through federal and provincial financial assistance programs and in understanding guidelines for safe re-opening,” Atrill said.
The motion passed unanimously, but Coun. Frank Wray said while he had no problem supporting it, he felt council should make it clear this is an exceptional circumstance.
“I think it is important for the community to know that council has helped businesses in this way, but also that we’re not an open bank account for people who are having trouble,” he said. “Inasmuch as I think it would be nice to help more people, we’re also having lots of odd things in our budget.”
The $20,000 will be provided through the Town’s operating surplus.
Chamber president Greg Wacholtz was grateful.
“It is wonderful that the Town has provided this funding to the Chamber for the work that has been done by our manager, Sheena Miller, and staff member, Susan Bundock,” he said. “They have done a tremendous amount of work and advocacy for businesses in Smithers and area, as well as helping out with items that have been used throughout the North.”
Walcholtz was referring to two posters created by the Smithers team and distributed to businesses all over the province for display. They describe the physical distancing and hygiene protocols customers and staff should be following and all the measures businesses have put in place to keep people safe.