The Chamber of Commerce came fairly close to having to make some uncomfortable decisions about the organization’s future. Executive members of the board had expressed intentions to step down at the Chamber’s Annual General Meeting, held on Nov. 10 this year, and it wasn’t looking like there would be anyone to replace them. Various actions were discussed prior to the AGM in the event that the Chamber was not able to continue, including dissolution, joining the Chamber of a neighbouring municipality, becoming a chapter of a neighbouring municipality, or inactivation.
The main issues that had beset the Chamber are unfortunately familiar to many organizations in Swan Hills, participation and engagement. In looking at the boards and committees of a number of organizations in town, one can’t help but notice that a relatively small group of people are taking on all the responsibilities of managing and running these organizations, often with the same people having to look after multiple organizations. This situation carries over to the activities and events put on by the organizations; it is often the same people having to do the planning, grunt work, and running around.
These seemingly tireless volunteers are getting worn out. In many cases, they have been doing this for a long time. More people are needed to volunteer and join these community organizations, or we will start to see them close down, and Swan Hills will be the worse off for it.
In the Chamber’s case, it is rare for any members beyond the executive and directors to attend the monthly meetings or to get involved in the organization’s activities.
The Chamber was able to elect a full board at the AGM on Nov. 10 and will continue for another year. Hopefully, they can garner more participation and engagement over that timeframe.
Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette