Friday November 21, 2014

Chamber takes councillors on walk

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Chamber of Commerce representative Bruce Thurston and Ken Kohlert from YBID , along with Mayor Bob Maloney meet with business owner Kirk Weinmaster

Summer is a good time for a walk.

And that is exactly what staff of the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce, Yorkton Business Improvement District, and members of Yorkton Council did last week. They walked throughout the downtown area meeting with Chamber members in their places of business.

Phil DeVos, manager of the YBID said the walkabouts were an excellent opportunity for both his organization, and the event organizing Chamber to meet with the businesses “that we represent.”

DeVos added, “This has never been done before,” and from his perspective it was a good initiative for the Chamber to initiate.

Juanita Polegi, manager at the Chamber said a former director with the organization had related a similar initiative which was successful in British Columbia.

“We felt that it would have merit in Yorkton,” she said, adding once they decided to take on the walkabouts in the downtown sector it was a natural to involve the YBID.

It was also a reasonable follow-up to one-on-one business visits the Council undertook in 2011 and 2012, said Polegi.

In those meetings Polegi said business members “gave us lots of unsolicited questions and comments about the City.”

At that time the Chamber took the questions to the City, and then printed responses in their newsletter.

This time around it was decided to give business people a more direct voice to the City.

Asking Council to take part was seen as adding an important element to the process, because it created an opportunity for dialogue between Council, and business taxpayers, said Polegi.

Having the Mayor, or other members of Council along just broadened the impact of the meetings, suggested DeVos, because it allowed business owners some direct conversation with elected municipal officials.

Councillor Larry Pearen was the Council representative Friday.  He said he saw the process, which took place over five mornings last week, facilitating dialogue with some 40 business owners, as a huge positive.

Having “the grassroots” dialogue possible in such informal meetings is important, said Pearen.

Polegi said they heard a few concerns, including some businesses wishing there was more parking near them. However, Polegi said in such cases the business owners recognized the issue was not easily solved.

“And there was some suggestion of one way streets in the downtown,” said Polegi, adding the suggesting will be detailed in a paper to the City for its engineering department to consider.

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