Members of the new Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors were sworn in Thursday at the Bayside Resort.

Surprise election at Parksville Chamber of Commerce AGM

Each candidate was given two minutes to address voters

Chamber members had a chance to exercise their democratic right to vote when a last minute nomination led to a nail biting election Thursday evening.

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce saw a full turn out for their annual general meeting where a new executive and board of directors was sworn in at the Quality Resort Bayside.

Nine candidates — each selected by a nominations committee — seemed confident they would make up the next board as none had speeches prepared in the case somebody was nominated from the floor.

However, Angela Giannotti nominated Bobbi Laird and an election ensued minutes later.

“It was intense,” said Mark Jones, one of the candidates surprised by the election.

Jones, and the other nine candidates, had a short campaign trail consisting of a two minute speech before members cast their ballots.

Burden said it was a fair election because everybody was “equally unprepared” to make a speech.  In the end, the original nine candidates selected by the nominations committee were elected: Jones, Donna Andres, Kelly Cudney, Bill McKinney, Beth Ross, Garry Bentham, Ashley Henry, Andy Lankester and Crystal McMillan. Sue Battle and Lisa Leger are completing their second year term.

The executive was acclaimed and now consists of president Robynne Shaw, president-elect Bonnie Wallis, vice-president Terry Kerr, treasurer Al McLean and past president Rudi Widdershoven.

MLA Michelle Stilwell swore in the new executive and board of directors.  Burden confirmed there were two ballot counts and all ballots were destroyed after the election.

“The fact that we even had an election is a reflection of how engaged this organization is,” he said. “It either means we’re doing a bad job and people want to join to fix it, or we’re doing a really good job and people want to get involved — personally, I think we’re doing pretty good.”

• What was once known as “the Fantasy Auction” is looking for a new name — and the chamber is calling on the community for help.

“Change is a good thing,” said PDCC executive director Kim Burden. “We’re looking at rebranding the whole event.”  Burden said this will be the 30th year the chamber has organized the auction, traditionally a black-tie event with a sit down dinner followed by dancing with more than 100 items for auction.

“It’s a lot of fun but it’s getting a little stale,” said Burden. “So we’re changing the concept while retaining parts of it.”

Burden said the chamber is looking to make the event more casual by bringing in a variety of different entertainers (comedians, musicians etc.), doing a live auction in between acts, and setting up a few tapas-style food stations around the venue.

“These are all just ideas at this point,” said Burden, while the wheels of imagination turned. “We want to keep it formal because people like getting dressed up but we also want to do something new.”

Burden said a big part of rebranding the historic event is refreshing the name.

So the chamber is calling on the community for ideas.

Burden said there are no restrictions on idea submissions as “putting restrictions on creativity is not creative.”

The winner of this competition will receive two free tickets to the event.

To submit your ideas of a new name, which will replace the Fantasy Auction, e-mail Kim Burden at, call 250-248-3613 or stop by the chamber located at 1275 East Island Highway.

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