–The following letter was submitted to both Sooke publications (paper and online)
Re: Sooke council rejects chamber of commerce funding request
‘Take time to get your act together,’ says councillor
Feb. 11, 2020
As I understand from the articles in this [Blackpress] publication, the Town of Sooke changed the service agreement with the Sooke Chamber which included receiving $28k annually. The 2016 District-imposed change was the Sooke Chamber was to include ‘economic development’ for the entirety of Sooke in the services it offered. The Chamber felt it was impossible to deliver for that amount (Economic Development Officers are typically paid 120K-150K to start) and consequently declined. The Sooke Chamber could have simply taken the money and ran, instead it took an ethical stand, the right one.
For the past three years the Chamber has struggled, no funding or support from the town of Sooke, Sooke Council actions. Council expects the Sooke Chamber to provide the entire community with the same level of service when the Chamber did receive funding.
It is important to note the past funding was generated from the business license fees collected from Sooke businesses by the Town of Sooke.
The Sooke Council has seriously hampered ALL local businesses with its actions, undercutting the community and Sooke Chamber of Commerce.
To top it off, when the Sooke Chamber recently appeared before Sooke Council to request reinstatement of the original service agreement, the Sooke Chamber received, in a public forum, with comments from individual Council members ranging from “get your act together” to nitpicking items in a budget Sooke Chamber presented.
Galling was certain Council members pointing out the various activities the Sooke Chamber no longer provides or participates in from parades to Sookorama. None of the various insulting comments from Council members were called as a point-of-order by the Mayor.
I am not alone in the level of disappointment for the contempt directed to the Chamber, past and current volunteers, our elected Council had demonstrated towards Sooke Chamber, a 70-year-old Sooke institution. We expect more from elected officials.
Well done Sooke Chamber, board, president and volunteers past and present. My business is proud to be a Sooke Chamber member. Hold your heads high and thank you for your hard work.
Sooke Council, you can hang your heads, shame on all of you. You owe an apology and a concerted effort to demonstrate effective leadership moving forward.
S. Jones – Sooke Resident and Sooke business owner.