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Fernie pinched by staff shortages August 24, 2015

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Fernie businesses have been hit hard by the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program. In a recreational community like Fernie that sees over 300,000 visitors a year and has a year-round population just under 5000, businesses rely on a variety of worker programs including holiday working visas and temporary foreign workers, whether hiring under the former labour market opinion or the more recent labour market impact assessment.

temporary foreign worker

Members of the business community including the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, Ann’s Independent Grocery, 7-11, A&W, Canadian Tire, Fernie Lodging Company, Park Place Lodge and The Brick House filled Council Chambers’ on Monday, August 24, 2015 at the Committee of the Whole meeting. The discussion was to update council on present labour shortage challenges facing local businesses and seek City support in finding solutions and working with other levels of government. Despite advertising nationally, most Fernie businesses in the tourism/hospitality, food and beverage, and retail industries are operating short staffed. Shortages as high as 45%, or the equivalent of 30 employees in some operations, are seen in some businesses even though continuous advertising occurs. A number of businesses spoke about bringing employees from eastern Canada out to work, but even that is difficult because they are not getting applications. Matt Brazeau of the Brick House stated that he has job postings continually on sites like Kijiji and EK employment. One job posting received 1800 views but yielded only one job applicant.

Fernie's Brick House

Fernie’s Brick House

Housing remains another challenge to filling the staff shortages. Many employees find that they must share a multi-room home with nine or ten people to afford living here. The BC Non-Profit HousingAssociations survey states “in Fernie, renter households earning less than $22,037 and living in two bedroom units pay an average of 93% of their income each month on rent plus utilities.” There was discussion from city council about businesses offering staff accommodations or creating a housing cooperative. Sheila Byers of Park Place Lodge responded that they have been advertising manager positions with accommodation available and are still not receiving applications.

The many businesses at the Committee of the Whole also explained that they are paying living wages and market rates. All businesses indicated that they are paying more than minimum wage with average wages being in the $15-17/hour range. The challenge remains finding a recruiting pool large enough to fill the shortages seen in our workforce. “It is very rare that I find a Chamber member who is not facing labour shortages. If we cannot find employees to fill these positions, businesses will have no choice but to reduce their hours of operations or services,” states Patty Vadnais executive director of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, “if that occurs, the whole community loses.”

The business community asked Council for their support in addressing these many challenges. One effort can be directed at informing the federal government of the challenges seen in our community. Stats Canada lists the Fernie unemployment rate at 3.7%. A hope from businesses is that Fernie could qualify for an exemption to the temporary foreign worker hiring ban, similar to that received by Yellowknife.

Fernie’s Diverse Business Models need City Support July 15, 2015

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Fernie City Council heard from the business community on July 13 at the Committee of the Whole meeting. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce presented results from a survey of the local food and beverage industry. Over 30 businesses were invited to participate in a survey that was completed by 23 businesses ranging from fast food to fine dining to mobile vending. The results were presented to the City as resources for the upcoming mobile food vending bylaw and policy review that is outlined in the City’s operational plan for 2016.

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is working closely with the City to ensure that the business environment supports all business models in the community. A recent open discussion was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Castlegar and Lethbridge presented on the mobile vending topic. Two key points were shared by both municipalities. First, definitions are key. Whether talking about distance or types of businesses, the guidelines need to be clear and easy to interpret. Second, all parties come on board quickly once parameters or policies are set. Since implementation in 2014, Castlegar has received zero complaints about the policy or about the location of mobile food vendors.

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce and business community is looking to City Council to add some definition and clarity to the existing Bylaw No. 2028. Schedule B, Item 4, of the bylaw reads “Mobile or Street Vendors shall be permitted only at locations whereby their product does not compete with Licenced businesses operating from fixed premise”. The current wording is ambiguous and allows for multiple interpretations of the bylaw which make it difficult for mobile businesses to understand where they can and cannot park. Fernie Chamber of Commerce Board President, Sheila Byers stated, “the business community has expressed a frustration with the lack of definition in the current bylaw. Businesses are asking what definitions are used to determine competing products. If you do determine products are in competition, there are no clear guidelines for where a mobile vendor could set up in relation to businesses offering that product.”

At the July 13 City Council meeting, Council directed staff to prepare policy recommendations on a food pod system in the public space at Station Square. Council’s discussion continued on how the infrastructure in that area could be designed to support food trucks in that area. This would include the proposed public washrooms, and more garbage receptacles. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Patty Vadnais said after the council meeting “The Chamber of Commerce looks forward to the direction set by council to support a food pod system in Station Square” adding, “this will keep the vibrancy of food trucks in the downtown core while supporting the fixed premise restaurants.”

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce represents over 265 business in Fernie and the Elk Valley. Its mission is to strengthen commerce in the Fernie area and is guided by principles of membership, integrity, best-practices, business excellence, and nonpartisanship. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is “The Voice of Business in Fernie.”

Fernie Chamber elects new board April 15, 2015

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce recently held its Annual General Meeting at the Best Western Fernie Mountain Lodge.

Fifty guests were in attendance to review the annual report, financials, and elect board directors.

Mayor Mary Giuliano brought greetings from the city and spoke about the importance of business in our community.

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The annual report highlighted the work done by the governance and memberships committees. Outgoing board president Todd Fyfe stated, “our committees this year have been exceptionally well run. We have a fantastic structure and very clear terms of reference for each of the committees. I look forward to those committees producing more great work in 2015.”

Eight nominees ran for six open board positions. The elected members included Sheila Byers, Graeme Nunn, Paul Arcoite, Anita Palmer, Steve Preston, and Alicia Clarke. They will join Todd Fyfe, Vanessa Croome, Tristan Woods, Ryan Frazer, Geof Hare, and Tammy Ogden to create the 12-member board.

While ballots were being counted, a panel discussion was held with incoming board president Sheila Byers and new executive director Patty Vadnais.

Byers covered items in the chamber’s strategic plan focusing on financial sustainability, membership services, advocacy, and governance. Vadnais spoke about creating educational sessions and workshops for members to strengthen their businesses. Also announced was the Business Book Nook. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce will collect book recommendations from members and share them through the program partners Fernie Heritage Library and Polar Peek Books and Treasures.

Fernie Chamber of Commerce new Executive Director March 26, 2015

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is excited to welcome its new executive director, Patty Vadnais. Vadnais moved to Fernie from Lethbridge, AB in May 2014 and has become active in the community coaching the Elk Valley Dolphin Swim Club and joining the Ladies Golf Club. Fernie Chamber of Commerce Board President Todd Fyfe says, “We are excited about the experience and education Ms. Vadnais brings to our organization, we look forward to the direction she will give to the Chamber as the voice of business in Fernie”.

Patti Vadnais with Tristan Woods,  Chamber treasurer

Patti Vadnais with Tristan Woods, Chamber treasurer

Vadnais has a Master’s of Science in Management focusing on not-for-profit governance, ten years’ private sector management experience and five years’ not-for-profit experience. She was the executive officer of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Lethbridge Region and Board Director for Economic Development Lethbridge. She has also taught management courses at the University of Lethbridge and the College of the Rockies. Vadnais states, “I look forward to being involved in the business community and working with municipal government to create a vibrant economic environment for our local businesses to thrive”.

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce represents over 270 businesses in the Fernie and Elk Valley region. Its mission is to strengthen commerce in the Fernie area and is guided by principles of membership, integrity, best-practices and business excellence, and non-partisan approach. Businesses are welcome to join the Fernie Chamber of Commerce and participate in its advertising, advocacy, and networking events.

Contact:
Patty Vadnais
250.423.6868
office@ferniechamber.com
ferniechamber.com

2014 Fernie Community & Business Excellence Winners October 24, 2014

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce thanks everyone that attended the 2014 Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards and to everyone that contributed in making the night a success!

The keynote speaker at the awards was Meghji, co-host of Vancouver’s morning show breakfast television. Riaz is pictured below with his fiancé
and Fernie Mayor, Mary Giuliano.

Fernie awards

THE WINNERS ARE…

Citizen of the Year- Kathryn Robinson
Entrepreneur of the Year- Maren Esch of Barkside Pets
Retail Excellence Award- Gearhub
Outstanding Customer Service- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Fernie Business of the Year- Le Grand Fromage
New Business of the Year- Nevados Restaurant
Community Impact Award- Fernie Women’s Resource Centre
Community Tourism Achievement Award- Claris Media/The Fernie Fix
Volunteer of the Year Award- Cathy Smith Clark
Employee of the Year Award- Jessica Hikida of Grow

Congratulations to all nominees and winners!

Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards Nominees Announced October 15, 2014

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The 2014 Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards event is coming soon and the nominees have been announced!

Community Awards

And the nominees are…

Citizen of the Year Award:
Kathryn Robinson
Gale Adams
Tanya Malcolm

Entrepreneur of the Year Award:
Lance Edwards of Elevation Showcase
Maren Esch of Barkside Pets
Nick Nault photographer and videographer

Retail Excellence Award:
Loaf Bakery
Gearhub
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Outstanding Customer Service Award:
Vitality Body & Mind
Gearhub
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Fernie Business of the Year Award:
Le Grand Fromage
Barkside Pets
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

New Business of the Year Award:
Nevados
Lysh Salon
Urban Settler

Community Impact Award:
EV Employment
Fernie Trails Alliance
Fernie Women’s Centre

Community Tourism Achievement Award:
Claris Media
Canyon Raft Co.
Raging Elk Hostel

Volunteer of the Year Award:
Cathy Smith Clark
Marie Wilfong
Chris Stockey

Employee of the Year Award:
Jessica Hikida of Grow
Sonya Erzinger of Ghostrider Trading Co.
Tanis Barkman of Yamagoya Sushi

Tickets are still available for the awards evening- Next Thursday, October 23rd, from 5:30pm at the Clubhouse Restaurant. Tickets are $60 and include a champagne reception, 5 course meal, and entertainment! RSVP to the Chamber today to reserve your seats. The inspiring guest speaker for the evening will be Riaz Meghji, co- host of Breakfast Television Vancouver

www.thelavinagency.com/speaker-riaz-meghji.html

Come out & celebrate your community!

2014 Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards September 25, 2014

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Tickets are now available for the 2014 Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards Dinner.

Seats are limited so reserve your spots today! Don’t miss this entertaining evening out. Consisting of a Champagne reception, 5 course meal, Awards Ceremony, and inspiring Guest Speaker.

When: Thursday October 23rd, 2014

Time: 5:30 Champagne reception, 6:30 Dinner is served, 7:30 awards begin, 8:30 Door Prizes, 9:00 Guest Speaker

Where: The Clubhouse Restaurant at Fernie Golf & Country Club

Cost: $60 per person

Nominations opened September 2nd for the 2014 Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards! It’s that time of year again where we recognize the best and brightest in our community.

Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards

Nomination forms and boxes are available at the following locations:

– Fernie Chamber of Commerce Office
– Fernie Museum & Info Centre
– EK Employment Office
– Free Press Office
– City Hall Front Desk
– Aquatic Centre
– Arts Station
– Fernie Heritage Library
– and can also be downloaded online from- www.ferniechamber.com

This year there are 10 different award categories and two exciting new awards! The Retail Excellence Award as well as the Employee of the Year Award. These awards are sponsored by The Fernie Chamber of Commerce and EK Employment-Work BC respectively. The other awards this year will be:

– Citizen of the Year,
sponsored by The City of Fernie
– Entrepreneur of the Year,
sponsored by Community Futures East Kootenay
– Outstanding Customer Service Award,
sponsored by Fernie Alpine Resort
– Fernie Business of the Year,
sponsored by GPI Chartered Accountants
– New Business of the Year,
sponsored by GPI Chartered Accountants
– Community Impact Award,
sponsored by Finning
– Community Tourism Achievement Award,
sponsored by Tourism Fernie
– Volunteer of the Year Award,
sponsored by the Free Press

The Awards dinner will be held again this year at the Clubhouse Restaurant located at Fernie Golf & Country Club on Thursday October 23rd. With Riaz Meghji, co- host of Breakfast Television Vancouver as the guest speaker. In his talk, Riaz Meghji documents memorable conversations that some of the worlds most fascinating figures have engaged in to achieve success and, more importantly, realize their true sense of purpose. Through intimate interviews, Meghji uncovers what makes for great, life-changing social intercourse. This presentation is a candid and far-ranging look at how creative conversations can reinvent your business, reenergize your brand, and further develop your career. Audience members are reminded that the potential to have a game changing conversation can occur at any given moment as long as we remain open to the possibility.

Riaz Meghji

2014 Fernie Youth Achievement Award May 21, 2014

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Nominations are now open for the 2014 Fernie Youth Achievement Award. This award recognizes the contribution youth make to their community and is open to any youth 19 and under, who lives or volunteers in the City of Fernie and surrounding area. This young person has contributed to their community through volunteer service, and has demonstrated leadership abilities.

youth achievement award 2014

Announcement of the winner to coincide with graduation 2014. Nomination forms and boxes are located in the offices at Fernie Secondary School and The Fernie Academy. As well as at the Fernie Heritage Library, City Hall and online at www.ferniechamber.com. Nominations close JUNE 13th. This is great recognition for resumes and post secondary applications.

This award is part of the Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards and is sponsored by The Fernie Chamber of Commerce & The City of Fernie.

Download the nomination form here: Nomination Form youth achievement award 2014

New Board Elect at Fernie Chamber April 25, 2014

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On Thursday April 24th the Fernie Chamber of Commerce hosted our Annual General Meeting at The Stanford Hotel & Resort. The meeting passed by-law changes and introducing a new Board of Directors.

From left: Jonathan Levesque, Graeme Nunn, Sheila Byers, Todd Fyfe, Tammy Ogden, Tristan Woods, Vanessa Croome, Geof Hare, Aysha Haines. Not pictured: Andy Cohen, Jill Barclay, Ryan Frazer.

From left: Jonathan Levesque, Graeme Nunn, Sheila Byers, Todd Fyfe, Tammy Ogden, Tristan Woods, Vanessa Croome, Geof Hare, Aysha Haines. Not pictured: Andy Cohen, Jill Barclay, Ryan Frazer.

The Chamber thanks all the event sponsors: TECK, Goldstar Cleaning, CP Catering, Best Western Fernie Mountain Lodge, TD Canada Trust, Isosceles Business Systems, Koocanusa Campsite & Marina, Haddad Financial Services, Rockies Law Corporation, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Mow & Snow-

They couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you as well to The Stanford Hotel & Resort for their hospitality and service. Lastly, thanks goes out to those businesses that donated door prizes- Tourism Fernie, The Tipple Cold Beer & Wine, Haddad Financial, The Fernie Visitor Centre, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

The Fernie Chamber is excited to continue providing great service to Fernie’s business community throughout 2014 and beyond!

Fernie Chamber of Commerce AGM April 1, 2014

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting is coming up!

When: Thursday April 24th

Where: Stanford Hotel & Resort

Time:
8:00am-8:30am Coffee Reception

8:30am-9:30am Breakfast

9:30am-11:00am AGM business

Cost: Free for members of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce– limit 3 from any one business.

RSVP: Please RSVP before 5:00pm on Thursday April 17th to members@ferniechamber.com or 250-423-6868

The Chamber is looking for new Directors, please contact the Chamber if you are interested.

Who are directors?

Directors are people like yourself, who have taken a keen interest in creating a welcoming business climate in Fernie. They believe that the business community has a responsibility to the community as a whole, and that as individuals, working through the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, they can make a difference. Directors are leaders with a sense of direction and a strong desire to be part of a team that works in their community.

What do directors do?
Directors participate in the governance of the Chamber of Commerce, determining the focus and direction of the organization each year. Directors actively participate as representatives of the business community at various events, and meetings with all levels of government. Directors participate in committees that suit their skills and interests.

Where do directors do their work?
Directors meet at business functions and events, however, they also offer their services from their place of business as time allows.
In short – they’re at work in the community.

When do directors meet?

Directors meet in the Chamber of Commerce Board Room on the second Thursday of each month.

The Chamber hopes to hear from you!