DIDSBURY - Town council has been given an update on the activities and plans of the Didsbury and District Chamber of Commerce.
The review came during the Apr. 27 council meeting, held in person and by Zoom.
Chamber vice-president Helen Hafke told council that the pandemic has been tough on the business promotion organization, as it has with many local and area companies.
“As with most businesses, the chamber has been hit hard hit by the pandemic,” said Hafke. “We went from an $80,000 plus budget to a $10,000 budget this year. We took a huge drop in revenue, which means our budget is absolutely bare bones.
“We basically budgeted just straight operating costs and that was based on membership numbers from last year and our membership is down over 20 per cent so far this year.”
Government grants have been very helpful during the pandemic, she said, “Otherwise we would have been having to make some really touch decisions.”
The new chamber board of directors is continuing to work hard on behalf of the local business community, she said.
“We have a very dynamic board and some fantastic new members this year and they’ve added a breath of fresh air,” she said. “It’s nice to see them come onboard to keep us moving forward and keep us moving positively in that direction.”
She commended the Town of Didsbury for working to fast-track the opening of patios and curbside service in town in response to recent COVID-19 restrictions.
“It has gone forward and things are really happening,” she said. “That’s exciting to see.”
The chamber is looking forward to continuing to build its relationship with the town, she said.
“It’s been really positive over the past year and we really look forward to that continuing and being strengthened in the coming year,” she said.
The chamber has created a virtual map on its website identifying local businesses that are operating patios and/or curbside service. The Didsbury open patios/pickup curbside (OPUS) map has been very well received, she said.
“It’s been really positive and we’ve had huge response,” she said. “We are having to be innovative in how we can support our businesses.”
She requested that the Town of Didsbury post the map on its website.
Chamber officials and members have been taking part in many webinars, including involving Alberta and Canadian chambers, she said.
“We are getting a lot of information coming through,” she said.
Officials plan to continue working throughout the summer, including undertaking a new marketing drive and a new membership drive, she said.
Officials are also looking for more small, home-based businesses to get involved with the organization, “to get them some marketing and some exposure” she said.
Councillors did not have any questions for Hafke. Town of Didsbury Mayor Rhonda Hunter thanked chamber officials and members for promoting the local economy and community.
“We are very proud of our relationship with the chamber,” said Hunter.
The other members of the Didsbury and District Chamber Commerce Board are Kyle Turner (president), Meaghan Neis (secretary), Anna Conway (treasurer), and directors Greg Proirer, Kim Proulx, Kim Kennedy-Forsyth, Brooke Mierke and Rob Steer.
Council passed a motion to accept Hafke’s report as information.