UPDATED: Three board members resign from South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce

By on April 18, 2017
The South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce has added two new members to the board. From left are directors Chad Dambrowitz, Doug Lamb, Sara Amos, Jamie Cox (interim president), Veronica Vinge, Deanie Foley Gillespie, and Eileen McGinn. Missing from photo are Alberto Veintimilla, Mike Campol, Brian Highley and Peter McKenna. (Lyonel Doherty photo)

The South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce has lost three board members due to the resignations of Doug Lamb (second from left), Sara Amos (third from left), and Jamie Cox (fourth from left). (Lyonel Doherty photo)

The South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce (SOCC) has been dealt another blow with the resignation of three board members.

President Brian Highley confirmed that Doug Lamb, Sara Amos and Jamie Cox recently resigned . . . on the heels of Executive Director Denise Blashko who also left the chamber more than a week ago.

Highley said Lamb resigned due to health reasons, and Amos resigned due to time commitments. Cox left because he wasn’t happy with the direction the chamber was heading in.

Blashko could not be reached for comment on Monday, and Highley said the chamber will not be replacing her because that position will be “dismantled.”

Amos said she resigned because she doesn’t have the time to be of any value to the board.

“I enjoyed being a part of it for two years, but with my business only getting busier I felt someone else would be a better option.”

Cox, manager of Gallagher Lake Resort, acknowledged that the chamber has been embroiled in a bit of “chaos” lately, referring to the resignations.

“I’m not interested in being on the board anymore; everyone is abreast on how it’s been going over the last eight months.”

Cox said he understands why Blashko left, saying she had too much on her plate and wasn’t being utilized to her full potential.

Cox noted that Blashko was responsible for so much within the chamber but had little or no authority.

“She was basically the secretary of the office . . . giving name tags (at events); the administrator in the background.”

Cox said Blashko was a real “trooper” through it all.

With many years of experience in the chamber, tourism and hospitality sector, Cox is shaking his head as to why the local chamber of commerce is nixing the executive director position and possibly contracting out these duties.

“I don’t get it.”

Cox also doesn’t agree with the chamber stepping away from the revenue-generating Festival of the Grape. (The chamber has handed over the event’s organization to the Oliver Tourism Association.)

Cox said the chamber needs to keep involved in tourism because there is a lot of power behind that.

Moving forward, Cox would like to see board members get out on the street more and “see the whites” of people’s eyes.

Highley said this is the first year that the board increased its membership to 11 (from nine). But due to the recent resignations, the board currently has eight members. They include himself, Eileen McGinn, Mike Campol, Alberto Veintimilla, Veronica Vinge, Chad Dambrowitz, Peter McKenna, and Deanie Folley-Gillespie.

“Doug just stepped down the other day, so we’ll be looking to replace him as soon as we can,” Highley said.

The president said the resignations don’t affect the chamber’s mandate, “but we like having more voices, opinions and experience at our meetings so it affects us in that way.”

Highley said he doesn’t have any concerns about the board’s future because the chamber has a great set of people with different skills and knowledge to carry it forward.


Special to the Times


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