District councillors have approved funding of $16,000 to the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce.
By receiving the funding, the chamber of commerce will survive the COVID-19 crisis, while continue to serve Sooke’s business community, said Karen Mason, the chamber’s president.
“Our chamber is an essential service in Sooke, both for our value to the community and for our connection to the bigger chamber fabric that spreads across this province, country and world,” she said.
“Our response to COVID-19 has been unparalleled.”
The motion for the funding was introducyed by Mayor Maja Tait at Monday’s council meeting, who told council the chamber is trying to “thrive and survive” during the pandemic while offering services to businesses.
Councillors were in favour of giving money to the chamber, but questioned the lack of details of where the money was going.
“They have not given us anything to work with,” said Coun. Al Beddows, pointing out he’d like to see a business plan.
Earlier this year, the chamber made a pitch to district council 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. Funds for the agreement came from business registration fees.
Tait’s motion calls for a new service agreement, which chief administrative officer Norm McInnis said was needed because the chamber is considered a business, and is covered under federal and provincial legislation.
The service agreement would layout criteria and how the money is spent, and would be in place before any money is released to the chamber.
“Seeing the chamber fold up and close its doors is not an option,” Coun. Dana Lajeunesse said.