Community Currency Boosts Business, Charities
By Val Rossi - Trail Daily Times
Published: December 30, 2010 5:00 PM
Would you like to use Canadian dollars or community dollars?
Come next year that could be another question asked during check out at a local store.
Based on Nelson resident Michael Linton’s development of the “Community Way Local Currency,” the Columbia Community Dollars Group will soon introduce local bills that can be used in participating cities.
Several Columbia Basin communities – Nelson, Valemount, Kimberley, Fernie, Cranbrook and possibly Rossland – have bought into the concept aimed at increasing charitable giving and promoting local shopping.
The group is meeting tonight to talk about Rossland, as it was introduced as an initial participant yet a community administrator has yet to come forward.
“No one in Rossland has committed to spearhead this initiative,” said group member Bill McNally of Nelson. “On the other hand, it appeared to us that given Rossland’s highly-progressive efforts to encourage local sustainability that it would be great to provoke a conversation by including its local artists in the competition to create a new currency.”
The group is looking for two unique designs from participating communities to be displayed on a bill.
Artists can submit original artwork – including etchings, drawings, paintings or photos –which could be selected as an image for the new currency. Each bill will display a photo – an iconic shot of a landmark in the community – on one side and an original artwork depicting the community on the other.
A prize will be awarded for the best photo and best art image for each community bill, with two prizes of $200 for each community payable half in Canadian dollars and half in community dollars.
Rosslanders have an opportunity to design the community currency’s $50, with a former deadline of this Friday now being extended to an unconfirmed date.
A few calls to Rossland community members revealed that though no one has taken the reins, the mountain community is keen on getting started.
“It will stimulate the local economy, get people buying local, increase pride and on the side, it’s sort of a tourism thing,” said Rossland councillor Hanne Smith. “It’s a neat concept that draws communities together in unexpected ways.”
The idea is that a business would donate community currency to a charitable organization and then qualify for a charitable donation tax receipt from the organization. The donation becomes an agreement that the business will accept Columbia Community Dollars (CC$) as full or partial payment from customers. In return, the organization receives the community dollars, which it can offer people in exchange for Canadian dollars on a dollar per dollar exchange.
The group is also looking to make the exchange available at banks, via its website and through participating organizations.
“We want to keep money flowing around the community,” said McNally, who added that security-featured bills should be launched by April 22 on Earth Day.
The group will start small so it “can iron out all the bugs, and create a template that any other communities can plug into.”
Though Trail is not part of the official launch, Maggie Stayanovich, executive director of Trail and District Chamber of Commerce, is intrigued by the idea and wants to learn more about the logistics.
“It’s a great idea and great concept and it’s regional, which is something we’re always looking for more of,” she said. “It’s all about giving back to the community, it’s a win-win all around.”
The concept speaks to Lea Thuot, Rossland’s sustainability commission manager, who hosts “Green Drinks” throughout the year.
“I think it has the potential to be a real positive initiative in the community,” said the Rosslander who grew up on Vancouver Island.
A member from the Community Dollars Group will be speaking at the first Green Drinks event planned for Jan. 14. The location and time are still being solidified, but Thuot said the casual round-table discussion will be held every third Tuesday of every other month, with the second one planned for March. On the off months, the sustainability commission will host discussions around sustainable topics – anything from highlighting a leading individual or a timely subject like water metering.
Over 30 years ago, Linton’s first development, the Local Exchange Trading System, successfully ran in Comox Valley and Courtenay and gave way to other renditions across the world. In Toronto, it’s called the Local Employment and Trading System and in New South Wales, Australia, it is known as the Local Energy Transfer System.
For more information on the Columbia Community Dollars Group visit: http://www.communitydollars.ca
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