New partnership between groups promotes better fortunes

Sidney’s Visitor Centre on Beacon Avenue the new home of the SBIA

Sidney’s Visitor Centre on Beacon Avenue the new home of the SBIA.

Sidney’s business improvement association (SBIA) is moving into the town’s visitor centre on Beacon Avenue in a partnership with the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Sidney.

The renovated office will also be the home of the SBIA’s new executive director Donna Petrie, who officially started the job on Monday.

The Centre itself is operated by the Chamber, which is in turn funded by the municipality.

Petrie’s new position also encompasses a Town-funded events co-ordinator role.

Mayor Larry Cross says bringing Petrie, the SBIA and the Chamber tourism information services into one building will hopefully encourage collaboration and a focus on local economic development.

“This is putting things in the direction we have wanted to, in getting the business community together,” Cross said.

“It’s a step in the right direction.”

The Centre gives the SBIA a home base, he continued.

The association was created last year and all downtown-area businesses contribute to its operation.

It’s tasked with marketing and promoting Sidney’s downtown business community and uses the slogan Distinctly Sidney.

The Chamber operates the Beacon Avenue Visitor Centre year-’round and modifications to the building will accommodate new office space and make it easier for people to navigate.

The Chamber ceased operation of its second centre, along the Pat Bay Highway, this year.

The Town stated it will enhance wayfinding signs to help direct traffic into the community and the Visitor Centre.

Chamber administration staff had contemplated moving into the Visitor Centre as well, in a move to cut costs.

However, says board President Ian Brown, they decided the space was not sufficient and will remain in their office further down Beacon Avenue.

The location gives the community a single point of contact for the tourist services and the SBIA.

Cross said he hopes it will support further economic development and better communication between the parties.

The role of events co-ordinator, he continued, will see to ensuring the community’s many events and activities get the attention they deserve.

“With this position, there will be better communication between all groups in town,” he said.

“It has the ability to bring together volunteers, event promotion and ensure community events are highlighted in the right place at the right time.”