The Bragg Creek and Area Chamber of Commerce is applauding Rocky View County (RVC) for making new taxpayer-supported funds available to help local chambers of commerce in its recent budget discussions.
The County proposes to create a $75,000 annual fund to help support local chambers’ work with businesses in their communities.
According to Bragg Creek and Area Chamber president Sherri Olsen, it’s something the Bragg Creek chamber has been advocating for several years.
“The support from Rocky View is a huge step forward to enable chambers to properly strategically plan for one to three years ahead,” she said. “This provides good service not only for our business members, but also for the visitors that are coming and the the tourism industry.”
Olsen said her chamber wears two hats in the hamlet. Primarily, it serves as the conduit to the local business community. Secondly, it works simultaneously as the hamlet’s local volunteer tourism authority.
The chamber rep said her members would much prefer RVC take on that tourism authority role, but the County simply doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to do this vital job for local businesses at this time.
“Because Rocky View doesn’t have a tourism department then we, by default, get that job, and it’s a fairly big job,” she said.
Olsen is hoping her chamber can access the County’s new chamber of commerce support fund in order to leverage that funding to continue to beautify the hamlet and make it more accessible to visitors.
“Chamber membership funds cannot be used for tourism,” she explained. “If we are lucky to get a third of that ($75,000), we already know where it is going.”
Olsen said Bragg Creek needs new signs, new banners, new benches, and would like to install new maps with embedded QR codes to help tourists more easily navigate the hamlet and surrounding area.
“So when visitors come, they know where to park, know where to go potty, and they know where to see something pretty,” she said. “Ideally, when the [flood mitigation] berm is finished, and we have the benches paid for to put on the berm, that there are some walking paths and areas of interest all mapped out for tourists, visitors and our locals.
“Right now that doesn’t exist.”
Long term, Olsen is hoping that RVC might take over the tourism role for Bragg Creek and the entire county.
“My feedback to Rocky View has been, I think they need to analyze and rethink this (volunteer) business model,” she said. “I am a volunteer, and everybody else on the board are volunteers. We are often small business owners or large business owners, and we are busy.”
But until that time, Olsen said some more direct funding through RVC for ongoing local beautification efforts in support of local businesses would be appreciated.
“Working together with Rocky View has been super helpful,” she said. “The councillor (Kevin Hanson) has been open to meeting with us to hear what we’d like to do, and for them to respond in kind with dollar amounts for us to do the work we said we would do is super helpful and very much appreciated.”