Chamber boss reflects on first year-plus

Julie Lawlor of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce

Having been with the WestShore Chamber for almost a year and a half now, I am overdue in writing my inaugural column for the Gazette.

The Gazette team in general, and publisher Christine Scott in particular, have been very supportive of the Chamber and of helping me find my feet. I’m also very grateful to our members, municipal leaders and staff, and the staff and directors of the Chamber, for helping me to learn about our members, issues that matter in the West Shore and the region, and how different parts of our community interact and intersect.

One of the things I love about working for the Chamber is that every day I have the chance to learn something new – from helping a member make a particular connection, to the details of a new partnership that’s springing up.

A major thing I’ve learned over the last 17 months is just how much our business community gives to our charities and non-profits. From providing products at cost to donating them for raffles and silent auction, from sponsorship payment to direct charitable donations, businesses contribute millions of dollars to this part of our economy. As a non-profit, the Chamber is a direct beneficiary of such generosity, which leads me to thank the sponsors and panellists from our recent Vision WestShore event.

The event brought together our West Shore political leaders for a panel discussion on the future of the area. The panellists were Mayor Carol Hamilton of the City of Colwood, Mayor Ken Williams from the District of the Highlands, City of Langford Mayor Stewart Young, District of Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, and Graham Hill, retired mayor of the Town of View Royal. With Mayor David Screech unable to attend, Graham kindly offered to bring his perspective on View Royal.

The two hours of panel discussion went by quickly as our panellists, debated and discussed issues ranging from provision of parkland to transportation, sewage treatment to amalgamation. Discussion was carried out with wit and warmth. As an audience member, I appreciated knowing our municipal leaders better by the end of the evening than I did when I first arrived.

My other takeaway was a feeling of privilege to be working in this diverse, welcoming and innovative community. The WestShore Chamber of Commerce exists to advance the growth, prosperity and sustainability of business and community life on the West Shore. As the Chamber enters its 60th year, we are more interested than ever in hearing your views on how we can support our community.

Julie Lawlor is executive director of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce. You can reach her via email at jlawlor@westshore.bc.ca or by calling 250-478-1130. For more information on the WestShore Chamber, please go to westshore.bc.ca.