250,000 reasons to smile for Chetwynd Chamber

Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo


CHETWYND – Chetwynd’s visitor information centre has received some great news from the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

A $250,000 grant was approved to help the cost of renovating the current town hall building into a brand new visitor information centre, once construction of a new municipal building is complete in 2015. The total budget for the renovation is estimated at $358,000.

The District of Chetwynd plans to fund the remaining $108,000 of the renovation and demolition project through annual contributions of $60,000 over a four-year term and a short term loan of $48,000. The Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce has been waiting for a building upgrade for a number of years.

The move will mean the visitor information centre will be much bigger at 2,600 square feet, up from the current 1,500 square feet.

“[The larger space] alone is amazing,” said Tonia Richter, executive director of the Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre. “The new look will be a huge asset to the community. We cannot wait to start planning with the District of Chetwynd.”

When the new town hall is built, the current council chambers (where meetings are held) will be demolished and the rest of the building will undergo a full remodel and redesign.

“We could not be happier with the announcement that the District of Chetwynd has successfully received the funding,” Richter added.

“We knew that with this announcement we were that much closer to getting into a new visitor information centre. Even though it’s still a couple of years away from the big move, we’re counting down the days.”

Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce Director Sheree Smith said having more space for the employees would improve the services they offer.

“Our existing building is very old and cramped with very limited space available for staff offices, our tourism material and our retail inventory,” Smith said.

“We are so thankful to the District of Chetwynd and the Northern Development Initiative Trust for making this all possible, and to everyone who has worked on this funding application. It will be appreciated by the Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce for many years to come.”

The Northern Development Initiative Trust approved the grant under its economic diversification infrastructure program, which provides funding for a maximum of 70 per cent of the budget for the project.

According to the District of Chetwynd, applying for the grant early was key to receiving the funding.

“This program is being subscribed to very heavily and that usually means money runs out,” Chief Administrative Officer Doug Fleming explained to council last October when it was contemplating the application.

“Even though [NDIT knows] that we’re not planning to actually do this work until 2015, Council has given the green light to the city hall project and the Chamber of Commerce is in fact very interested in moving into the old facility. We’re just putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Mayor Merlin Nichols said the news is exciting for the town. “The commitment to providing visitor services for Chetwynd in this way, creates a new and improved face to the whole community,” Nichols said. “The $250, 000 funding will really make a difference to the look and welcoming to all parties. We are very excited to start planning with the Chamber on the new relocated, renovated visitor centre in our community.”