Darrin Super

Chamber executive ready for a busy year

Coastal GasLink pipeline will bring a business surge

Following its May annual general meeting at which directors were named for the next year, the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce has now confirmed its executive component for 2019-2020.

Entering his second year of a two year term as president is Darrin Super from the Bulkley Valley Home Centre while Bill Woelders from Traction Tire and Carwash continues as vice president.

Tanya Reitsma from Reitsma Home Hardware has been named the secretary/treasurer of the organization which speaks on behalf of the business community in Houston and area.

New to the board of directors are Glen Kelly from Finning and Kevin Alles, the new owner of Countrywide Stationery.

Returning as directors are Claudia Brietzke from the Telford Financial Group, Hailey Finch from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union Jordan Porth from Happy Jack’s Restaurant and Bar and Rebecca Tait from Pleasant Valley Plaza.

The District of Houston representative is Councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld.

Past president Troy Reitsma, now a District of Houston councillor, from Reitsma Home Hardware, has left the board as has John Sullivan from Sullivan Motor Products. They were thanked for their service to the chamber.

As well, Canfor’s Shannon Scott’s term as a director has expired.

The Houston & District Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1961, establishing itself as the voice for the business community acting as the spokesperson for business before all levels of government, indicates its website.

“The purpose of the Houston & District Chamber of Commerce is to enable the local businesses to achieve that which they could not do alone,” is its mission statement.

Speaking last week, chamber president Darrin Super said the number of businesses becoming chamber of commerce who are involved in Coastal GasLink’s pipeline project to supply natural gas to the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas plant now under construction at Kitimat is a good sign for the area.

“It shows they are putting roots down in the community. It’s exciting to see them become members of the community,” he said.

And while pipeline construction is not scheduled to fully start until next year, there’s already an impact on local activity, Super added.

“Definitely we’re going to see new businesses arriving, businesses setting up. We are going to feel the residual effects. All of Hwy16 will feel it, from Prince George to Prince Rupert,” he said.

Already, Super noted, there’s a demand for housing that’s creating a sellers’ market.

At the same time, there are worries about operations at Canfor’s sawmill here which is in the middle of a one-month shutdown as part of that company’s province-wide response to low prices and high log costs.

“We’d be wrong to put our heads in the sand about this,” said Super. “There are murmurings about the industry and what plans Canfor has for the mill here.”

Super added that Houston’s economic base is the forest industry and that any prolonged downturn would be felt.

Still, there is the feeling that the increase in economic activity tied to the Coastal GasLink pipeline will help balance a forest industry downturn, he said.

Looking at other business activity, Super said the District of Houston’s program to give tax relief for business improvements within the downtown core sends a positive message.

“I think it’s great for the District to do that,” he said.

As for chamber specific activities, Super said it will hold governance sessions for its board, describing its members as exuberant about their board roles.

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