Chamber ‘will adjust’ to loss of 90-year-old license bureau

By J.D. Booth
Lambton Shield

Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce President Garry McDonald says the members of the organization will adjust to the loss of an important revenue stream when the Motor Vehicle Licensing Office it has operated on contract for nearly 90 years closes Nov. 30.

But that doesn't mean he has to like it.

"We provide a good service and at a lower cost than the government will incur when the service moves to Bayside Centre," says McDonald, adding that even though notice was given in the summer of 2009, the adjustment will be significant for the Chamber and the community as a whole.

"The revenue we earned from that part of the operation funded a number of programs, including physician recruitment, tourism promotion, Junior Achievement, Family Medicine Scholarships and studies to improve air and rail travel to the area."

McDonald says two employees have already been terminated and five more will lose their jobs at the end of November.

The Chamber has already begun a process of planning for the revenue creation needed to offset the loss. "We're looking at the idea of events which could offset the loss and we'll also be looking at ways to cut costs in the building. But we have no plans to raise our membership fees,"

Regarding the building, the Chamber board has decided to renovate the Christina Street building, "right-sizing" the space by moving public space to the main floor and use the upper floor as office space that could be rented out.

The large house at the front of the property, which currently is being used by Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, will be demolished, said McDonald. "Tourism Sarnia-Lambton is a tenant and we've given them notice but also have offered them space in the main building."

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