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Chamber outlines advocacy efforts, elects new board of directors

Justin Melnyk, president of the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, speaks during the chamber’s annual general meeting at the Crimson Hotel on June 27. | P.Shokeir photo

Peter Shokeir |

The Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce provided a year in review and elected its board of directors during its annual general meeting at the Crimson Hotel on June 27.

President Justin Melnyk presented on the advocacy that the chamber was engaged in, one of the main focuses being the decades-old issue of affordable housing.

“It continues to plague residents, businesses and employers seeking to house staff as well as get people to move to Jasper, so we’ve engaged with the federal and provincial ministers in dialogue towards real solutions,” Melnyk said.

“While not always immediately noticeable, there has been some progress.”

The chamber has also been working to retain workers in the community, and it has worked with the municipality and Parks Canada to ensure the local economy remains vibrant, such as by allowing tents and Jersey barriers for sidewalk seating.

The chamber will have two seats on a taskforce meant to provide input on sidewalk seating to council, which will then convey this feedback to Parks Canada.

Other advocacy items include the sharp increase in utility rates, paid parking and the potential changes coming to private home accommodations.

As a result of a meeting with Yellowhead MP Gerald Soroka and the shadow ministers of tourism and finance, the chamber’s executive director has been contracted to create and present a report on the needs of the community.

“This is going to tackle a lot of the areas we’ve been talking about with tourism, housing shortage and it’s an opportunity to meet with a lot of these people from Ottawa,” Melnyk said.

The contract price will be donated to the chamber.

Draft budget

The draft budget for the 2022/23 chamber year was passed.

Secretary/treasurer Merv Bashforth told the membership how well Jasper businesses have been doing recently despite the number of challenges over the past year.

“Everyone I’m talking to is having a phenomenal June, far beyond expectations. But what were expectations a year ago? It was just so absolutely unpredictable, and just surviving the last one or two years and stuff has been amazing, really.”

For the draft budget, most revenues to the chamber come from membership fees, which are relatively stable.

“I think your chamber has done a phenomenal job over the last year, two years, in trying to sort through COVID and the opportunities and the challenges that lie there,” Bashforth said.

“But going forward, we’re looking very optimistically at our opportunities to increase over revenues with our fundraising events and such.”

Bashforth said there had been some discussion of increasing membership fees in response to higher costs, mainly utilities but also wages.

“As you know with your own businesses, in order to keep good people, you have to pay good people, and it’s more expensive if you lose those people, and that’s what’s happened to us,” he added.

“We lost an executive assistant, and we found it very hard to recruit.”

Election of officers

Chamber members elected their officers via ballot.

Melnyk will remain in office as president for his third and final year.

Naji Khouri was re-elected as vice president for a second term, and Shelby McQueen Osborne was elected as secretary/treasurer.

The board of directors consists of incumbents Matricia Brown and Sue McCarthy as well as newcomers Erin Shore, Angie Thom and Aman Gupta.

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