The annual general meeting of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce accentuated the positive of a new year and a newly sworn-in board of directors – although it could not entirely eliminate the negative of a net loss for the previous year.
At Tuesday’s meeting at the Rotary Field House in South Surrey, members and directors heard treasurer Doug Robinson describe a loss totalling $71,315 for the year ending Dec. 31, 2010, some of it accounted for by a new chamber office and rebranding and repositioning of the organization.
“We tried to do too much too soon,” Robinson said after the meeting. “It did hit us from a financial standpoint, but everything (we did) was the right thing to do for the chamber and we’ve got all those things in place.”
Ongoing financial constraints for the chamber were cited for a decision last month by the board to terminate the position of executive director Cori Lynn Germiquet, reduce staff hours and cancel civic all-candidates meetings the chamber had planned to sponsor.
In response to a question from new director Lou Tardif, Robinson acknowledged the chamber could have cut costs sooner.
“Cuts could always have been done earlier,” Robinson said, noting this could be said of any cost-reduction scenario.
“We were optimistic. We believed we were doing the right thing on a go-ahead basis.”
Robinson told members the chamber had spent a lot of money to “position the chamber differently” at the same time it experienced a shortfall in revenues from such events as its annual golf tournament.
He said $43,000 was spent in opening the chamber’s new office in White Rock, while $9,000 was spent joining the B.C. Chamber of Commerce in 2010 (an expenditure that was reduced to less than $8,000 in 2011).
But the road ahead is rosier, Robinson told Peace Arch News following the meeting.
“We’re going to be finishing this year in a more positive position than had been originally projected,” Robinson said.
Acting executive director Doug Hart – who came out of retirement last month to resume his former position as a volunteer – agreed.
“Everything is back on track and we plan to go into a surplus, with a contribution to our equity base,” Hart said.
Robinson would not comment more specifically on current finances until new figures come forward in January.
White Rock Mayor Catherine Ferguson swore in directors, including: president Gary Hollick, past-president Jay Fettinger, Shell Busey, Fred Fabro, Sharon Hollas, Ramesh Keshav, Erin McDonald, Morley Myren, Maria Mura, Marilyn Pearson, Terry Ross, Collette Semeniuk, Marilyn Winship and Tardif.
Fettinger later said the past chamber board should be applauded for making tough decisions when they were needed.
“The thing I’m most proud of is that the board always kept the best interests of stakeholders as priority one,” Fettinger said.