Chamber axes civic all-candidates meetings

Financial issues cited in decision to cancel four meetings next month

The South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce will not host any all-candidates’ meetings in the lead-up to the Nov. 19 municipal election.

The move is part of efforts to get the organization’s financial affairs in order, interim executive director Doug Hart said Friday.

Four meetings – two in White Rock and two in South Surrey – scheduled for next month have been cancelled.

“To put something on like that, is a tremendous amount of work,” Hart said. “The bottom line is we were going to lose a fair amount of money. I just ran the numbers and it just was not right that we should put it on this year. Running things on a loss-basis isn’t fair to our members.”

Financial struggles were cited last week in cuts made to four chamber employees’ hours and the elimination of executive director Cori Lynn Germiquet’s position. In announcing the move, chamber president Jay Fettinger noted changes in the economy forced the “difficult and immediate” decisions.

Germiquet had replaced Hart as executive director on May 16.

Hart, who ended a four-year term in March, would not elaborate on the chamber’s financial position Friday, noting it was his first day back and “there’s a lot of things I have to look at.”

Hart confirmed his interim role is on a voluntary basis, “for the moment.”

And while he was confident the chamber will eventually bring back a paid executive director, Hart said his priority now is to ensure decisions are fiscally prudent and provide value and support both to members and to the communities of White Rock and South Surrey.

He is hopeful other groups will step up to organize all-candidates’ meetings, events he described as “important to the community.”

At least one such meeting has already been booked at the First United Church in White Rock, 15385 Semiahmoo Ave.

Hosted by the church, Peninsula Homeless to Housing Round Table, South Fraser Women’s Services Society and other groups, it is to take place from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Affordable housing, homelessness and food security will be key topics.

 

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