With the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce opting to withdraw from the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC), the remaining committee members have voted to ask that the county designate its spot as an additional at-large position.
In an April 7 letter to county executive Satpal Sidhu and members of county council, the chamber’s board of directors wrote that they are “singularly focused on the economic wellbeing of Point Roberts, and our board members feel that our organization’s goals and methods are not always aligned with those of the advisory committee, which is much more broadly focused on community matters such as tree retention, zoning bylaws, parks and wildlife issues.”
The letter stated its withdrawal from PRCAC is effective immediately and that the board appreciates the “opportunity to continue to maintain our open lines of communication with the council and the county executive in representation of the businesses in Point Roberts.”
Responding to the chamber board on April 11, Sidhu said he respected the decision and said he believed “this is the right decision to focus on the economic development at PR for your organization.” He added “the current PRCAC needs revitalization for its mission and how this organization can best serve the residents.”
At their April 15 meeting, PRCAC voted to request the county change the code governing makeup of the committee to be comprised of individual seats from two organizations – the voters and taxpayers associations – and five at-large positions.
Under the current county code, the chamber is one of three local organizations with a seat on PRCAC, with four at-large positions. Only two at-large positions are currently filled.
In his January memo to the committee suggesting a year off to make changes, Sidhu outlined five criteria these organizations should meet to establish legitimacy as representative of the broader community. One of these, meetings open to the public, was a criterion the chamber does not meet and chamber representative Tamra Hansen told fellow PRCAC members in March they did not intend to change the practice of closed meetings.
PRCAC member Grant Heitman thanked Hansen and the chamber for its role in highlighting the impact of COVID restrictions on the community’s economy and said he thought its departure from PRCAC would be beneficial. “I believe where PRCAC is heading is to be as transparent and inclusive as a public organization can be,” he said. “Having the chamber of commerce as a private organization with a private membership has been a catch. I think this change will benefit our ability to be transparent and will free the chamber up to do what you do best.”
PRCAC has scheduled a candidate forum via Zoom on May 6 at 7 p.m. and committee chair Allison Calder said they would be looking for candidates to fill the two vacant at-large positions and, if the county approves the proposed changes, a third at-large seat replacing the chamber position. Interested applicants can apply through the county’s boards and commissions page at whatcomcounty.us/210/Boards-Commissions. The link to the meeting will be shared on various social media and through the ePB.
Calder said PRCAC was also working to develop subcommittees to increase public involvement on topics they are working on: facilities at Lighthouse Marine Park, critical areas, the Maple Beach seawall, and optimizing or expanding the ferry schedule.
“We have a large number of people in this community with skills that aren’t being tapped that can really help,” she said.
Those interested in helping on a subcommittee or with ideas to share can email PRCAC.email@example.com.