Gabriola Chamber of Commerce requests funding bump

The Gabriola Chamber of Commerce is asking for an increase to its funding from the Regional District of Nanaimo.

Since 2017, the chamber has received $65,000 per year from the RDN and is requesting a 6 per cent increase, $3,900, to the service agreement going forward to account for inflation.

As well as facing inflationary pressures, Gabriola’s population has increased and the chamber anticipates a further squeeze on its services as a result, Graham Bradley, president of the chamber, said while delivering the chamber’s annual report at the Dec. 6 RDN board meeting.

“We brought our budgets down as much as we can to save and make hard choices about what we are going to do with our funds,” Bradley said. The last budget area to reduce would be staffing, something the chamber wants to avoid impacting.

“We’re trying to increase a little bit of funding to keep as much of our staff time as high as we can,” Bradley said.

The chamber operates the visitor information centre, produces the annual visitors map and runs off-season tourism marketing. The small team also spearheads shop local initiatives, business education and workshops as well as provides advisory services and referrals to entrepreneurs.

The chamber’s top priority in 2023 is to integrate further with Gabriola community associations as well as other off-island organizations like Tourism Nanaimo and Destination BC, from which both the chamber has received funding.

The RDN’s budgeting process for 2023 is well underway and the chamber’s funding request will be part of Electoral Area B Director’s Vanessa Craig’s decision-making, the director said at the RDN meeting.

The current service agreement between the chamber and the RDN was approved in March and runs through March 2026.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder