District of Sooke council will enter into a two-year service agreement with the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce for a host of economic development work.
The contract is set to pay out $28,150 in 2021 and $28,713 in 2022 with a checklist of tasks that include attracting and pursuing economic ventures, broadening the industrial and commercial tax base, and promoting economic opportunities in Sooke.
“We need a chamber of commerce, and (it) seems to be doing a really good job at this point,” Coun. Tony St-Pierre said of the chamber of commerce.
Councillors Ebony Logins and Al Beddows were reluctant to add a second year to the contract, pointing out councillors in previous meetings suggested the chamber needed to prove itself before receiving further funding.
Mayor Maja Tait said the chamber has a “solid plan,” and she had no hesitancy in moving forward with the funding.
The chamber made a pitch to district council last year to get back more than $28,000 it gave up in August 2016 after the chamber said it was ill-equipped to be the lead driver of economic development in Sooke. The chamber chose to withdraw from the community service agreement with the district, which had been in place for 3½ years.
Raechel Gray, director of financial services, told council that municipal staff decided to enter into a two-year deal so that all service agreements expire at the same time. The district has service agreements with Sooke Region Community Health Initiative, Sooke Community Association, Sooke Region Tourism Association and Sooke Visitor Information Centre that expire on Dec. 31, 2022.
“We knew we were being scrutinized, and we are pleased that council considers us worthy,” said Britt Santowski, executive director of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce. “(The funding) gives us security and helps us plan more than one year in advance.”
Meanwhile, council has sent a service agreement report back to staff asking for more information on finances and results.