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McKinney assumes dual role at Chemainus Chamber

Previous president Ballantyne bows out to focus on other priorities
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Bill McKinney takes over as Chemainus + District Chamber of Commerce president.

With more than five decades of business involvement on his resume, Bill McKinney believes it’s time to put that experience to good use in Chemainus.

Effective immediately, McKinney has taken on the role of Chamber president and chief executive officer of the business organization.

“The Chemainus + District Chamber of Commerce has a proud history of almost 74 years of serving the business community and the residents of Chemainus,” McKinney noted in a statement.

“It is one of our major goals to continue to build on that history.”

McKinney stepped up following the resignation of Stephanie Ballantyne in February.

“We are all in Stephanie’s debt for the time and effort she put into the Chamber over the last three years,” McKinney said. “Those three years have been incredibly challenging for businesses in Chemainus and area and Stephanie’s leadership was critical in making the best of an unprecedented and difficult period.”

When filing her resignation with the board, Ballantyne noted it was time to focus on other priorities. “I have had the privilege and honour of serving the Chamber and this community for the past three years. I wish the Chamber all the best as it continues to grow and flourish under new leadership.”

Ballantyne is proud of all that’s been accomplished since she assumed the role, especially with the cooperation among service clubs during the last Chamber Christmas Market in November.

“That’s a great example of community coming together,” she said.

David Courtney from Salt Spring Island is an advocate for the long overdue improvements to the BC Ferry Terminal facilities and ferry service between Crofton and Vesuvius Bay and is grateful to Ballantyne for her support.

“When I approached Stephanie and the Chemainus Chamber of Commerce for help on ‘The Fix for Route Six’, her immediate reaction was, ‘how may we help?’ Her efforts in writing Minister Rob Fleming of the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure in a joint communique with the presidents of the Chambers of Commerce from Duncan and Ladysmith was extremely appreciated and helpful.

“When I asked the presidents if they would join me for a meet and greet with the BC Ferries board of directors in late June last year, they graciously accepted and ventured across Stuart Channel to Salt Spring.They not only came but engaged the individual members of the board of directors and, of course, the CEO of BC Ferries, promoting the need for better service and facilities for the plethora of goods and services that go back and forth each day in our respective communities.

“BC Ferries came forward three months later and announced they were submitting a proposal to build new ferry terminals at both Crofton and Vesuvius Bay, along with the commissioning of two new eco-Island class ferries for the fall of 2026. Besides being very grateful to BC Ferries, we can’t help but think that the efforts of Stephanie and her team were pivotal in that decision. Hats off to the Chambers of Commerce in Chemainus, Duncan and Ladysmith.”

Related story: Two-ferry service coming to Crofton-Vesuvius route by 2026

McKinney is adding to a workload that already has him assuming executive roles with the Chemainus Rotary Club and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 191. But he says he’s anxious to contribute even more to the community.

“I have the time available to concentrate on volunteerism and work full time as president and CEO now that I’ve wrapped up my own business that I operated for 22 years.”

The role of CEO will be on an interim basis for six months with no salary.

“After that period of time it is my desire to implement a proper governance and operations structure that I will present to the board of directors,” explained McKinney, who had a 30-year career in banking and marketing with Royal Bank.

The Chemainus + District Chamber of Commerce is responsible for the operation of the Chemainus Visitor Centre in Waterwheel Park. The Chamber also organizes several events throughout the year, including the weekly market in Waterwheel Square, the annual Giant Street Market and other popular events.

“Building the membership list, operating the Visitor Centre and ensuring the Chamber events are successful top the list of priorities at this time,” McKinney added.

– with a file from Don Bodger, Chemainus Valley Courier

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Stephanie Ballantyne served three years as Chemainus + District Chamber of Commerce president.
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