The Burns Lake & District Chamber of Commerce charged council candidates $50 to participate in their All Candidates Forum on Nov. 3.
Lakes District News contacted the Chamber’s executive director, Laurie Reimer, for clarification and she said that the fee was requested to cover the costs associated with sponsoring the event.
Those costs, she said, included equipment rentals, refreshments, advertising, printing, postage and administration.
While the multi-purpose room at Lakes District Secondary School was offered at no charge, “the stage sound system fee is $50 as outlined on the School Use Addendum/Application,” she wrote in an e-mail.
That sound system, however, may have been free after all. Reimer said that she had not heard back from the school regarding the rental fee before the forum — their Room Use Agreement does stipulate a $50 per hour fee — but she is in the midst of reconciling all the expenses.
The candidate fee is a change from years prior. Reimer said that while they historically have not charged them, the action is not uncommon.
“It is important for non-profit organizations like ours,” she wrote.
At a recent BC Chamber Executives Conference in Smithers she said she learned that many Chambers in B.C. have been charging fees for quite a while.
When contacted, the Smithers and District Chamber of Commerce and the Terrace Chamber of Commerce told Lakes District News that they do not charge candidates fees to attend All Candidates Forums in their communities.
Reimer said that in the local Chamber’s event summary, they will be recommending that sponsorships be sought from other organizations in the future.
“The Village, the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako and the school district were not asked to help pay for the event because that would violate election rules,” she said.
After all the fees and costs, the forum cost $727.01 (including the sound system fee), Out of 15 candidates invited to attend, nine participated and three attended as spectators.