The Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce met for the annual general meeting on April 20, capping off a year with its fair share of successes and some challenges.
Chamber president Brydon Roe addressed chamber members alongside chamber executive director John Devitt during a lunch meeting at Powder Springs. Here are some of the highlights from the meeting and the chamber’s year:
New Visitor Information Centre plans
As has been reported several times in the Times Review, the chamber is a leading partner on plans to build a new Tourist Information Centre in downtown Revelstoke, which will also house other community groups involved in the project.
Devitt said that although a location had not been finalized, things were leaning towards the parking lot next to the Canadian Avalanche Centre on Mackenzie Avenue. “We’re hoping to break ground this summer,” Devitt said.
“Having a visitor centre downtown is really key,” Devitt said. “We’re hoping to put to rest the debate about whether it should be on the highway or downtown. We like to use the analogy that there’s a real good reason why groceries store put milk and eggs and butter at the back of the store. For the same reason we think it’s important to have our visitor centre downtown.”
The chamber is also starting up a tourism info kiosk in Woodenhead Park this summer. The kiosk was originally used during the 2010 Olympics.
Commercial taxation issue
In their 2010 year in review, the chamber says the zero per cent tax increase for commercial properties has been a success but they plan to continue to lobby the city for reductions. “The chamber worked hard to partner with the City of Revelstoke to address the longstanding commercial taxation issue,” writes Devitt in his annual report message.
Tourism coordinator funding stressed
Both Roe and Devitt stressed that the elimination of the $30,000 in funding for the tourism coordinator position came as a surprise to them and that the funding had been yanked well into their operating year. “It came as a real shock to us,” Devitt said.
They requested that chamber members continue to contact city councillors and lobby for funding for the position. They also expressed concern that the funding was not reinstated when council got their first look at the budget on April 19 following a month-long break during the public comments period. Council did discuss some of the outstanding budget issues at that meeting but deferred decisions until they had more time to digest the comments. [See more on budget discussions on page 16.]
Devitt stressed the importance of Revelstoke Tourism and the tourism coordinator position. He listed projects the organization has been involved with, and more are listed in the written annual report.
Activities have included creating a hiking, biking, Nordic skiing and climbing trail map, with plans to develop it into a mobile app. Other projects include a redesigned tourist brochure, a new vacation guide, a tourism map, tourism industry guides, the Revelstoke dining guide, attendance at tourism conferences and shows and hosting visiting media. These are just some of the activities included in the annual report.
Improved website portal planned
The chamber is working to create a single tourism portal for Revelstoke.
“There is a lot of consumer confusion with multiple websites boasting that they’re the Revelstoke website,” Devitt said. “So we’re hoping to unite all of that in one key site.”
Devitt said the chamber had an agreement with the city to partner with them on the www.revelstoke.ca domain. By law, domain names beginning with the name of a town or city and ending in ‘.ca’ are reserved for municipalities.
Chamber cancels home show
Devitt said the chamber had cancelled the home show at the Revelstoke Forum because it was more effort than it was worth. He said organizing the event took four months of planning and resulted in a $4,000 profit. He felt their efforts would be better spent elsewhere. He also noted that 80 per cent of exhibitors were from out of town at the last event.
New events and promotions committee formed
Devitt said events that attracted customers downtown to the city’s retail core had been a success, giving the New Moon festival as an example. However, the chamber has formed a new “events and promotions” committee in order to steer away from promotions overly-focused on the downtown core.
He said the new committee was a way to even out the promotions to more broadly represent all chamber businesses, including spreading the focus beyond downtown and beyond just the retail sector.