Chamber Director speaks out on Santa parades amalgamation

Saugeen Shores Chamber Director               Kimberley Inniss-Petersen

On September 23, 2019, I stood in front of Saugeen Shores town council to seek their input for the amalgamation of our annual Christmas parades, creating one yearly parade that alternates between Port Elgin and Southampton.

I anticipated that some community members would be disappointed. What I didn’t anticipate was how quickly misinformation spread. I would be remiss to not address some of the misinformation that has caught my attention:

– Pumpkinfest is a separate organization that operates independently of the Chamber.

– Shift worker schedules, limited transportation, and double exposure for participating businesses were considered but those considerations cannot reduce our identified risks.

– Operating the parades with a year over year deficit is not insignificant for a nonprofit with limited sources of revenue.

– Staff investments cannot be dismissed or minimized.

As a small nonprofit organization, the Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce is no longer able to manage two parades. Twenty years of doing so is a celebration! Twenty years is also a long time for something to continue without a comprehensive evaluation. To remain relevant, we have to focus on priorities based on a Chamber of Commerce business model. We have taken a critical look at our revenue, expenses, workload, best practices and the level of impact we have on the economic health of our community. It would be irresponsible to not examine these standard-practice business health indicators.

The Board of Directors convened on September 26, 2019 to vote on a decision to amalgamate the parades. An overwhelming majority of directors voted in favour of amalgamation. Therefore, the Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce will manage one parade in Southampton for 2019 and Port Elgin in 2020.

The Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce has a rich history and a bright future. We are building on our strengths as an influential business association. As our community continues to grow and expand, the Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce is planning ahead to meet the needs of our anticipated business climate. It can be difficult to envision a long-term plan, especially when it comes at the cost of a beloved community event. But, at the end of the day, the Chamber will still organize one parade in Saugeen Shores in a manner that is balanced, practical and reasonable.

If you are interested in volunteering or if your organization would like information on how to organize a parade for 2019 in Port Elgin, please contact the Chamber of Commerce at 519-832-2332.

Thank you,

Kimberley Inniss-Petersen
Executive Director,
Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce