Squamish Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director says he is taking a steady approach to the new role by hearing about the issues businesses face.
Christopher Fehr stepped in as the new executive director on March 6, the Chamber announced in a news release. In an interview with The Squamish Chief, Fehr said that he is focused on listening to its members at the start of this new role.
“We’re in the middle of a membership survey, and I would like to get the feedback and the data points from our members first before I try to make any key decisions on what I personally think might be important,” he said.
Fehr said most of his business experience comes from the hospitality and tourism industry.
His LinkedIn profile shows he had stints in Tofino and Canmore, Alberta before Squamish.
More recently, he’s been interested in and focused on economic development and community impact.
“How can the business that I’m operating impact that development to benefit the community as a whole,” he explained. “And that’s what really drew me into this [executive director] role was understanding and sparking that passion for myself.”
While Fehr did point out how Squamish was recently touted as B.C.’s Most Economically Resilient City by BCBusiness magazine, he acknowledged there were still challenges facing businesses in town.
“The cost of doing business in Squamish is continuing to increase,” he said. “And how do we really manage that?”
For example, Fehr said property assessment increases can lead to more taxes and, as such, that will trickle down to increased front-facing costs for consumers or guests. Moreover, housing affordability challenges for employees or rental price jumps for businesses also play a role in sustainability for business owners.
“That’s kind of what I think is going to be our biggest challenge going forward,” he said.
But Fehr also said that businesses have really changed a lot since the COVID-19 pandemic, which, in part, has resulted in more flexibility.
“Consumers have changed their habits and they won’t necessarily go back to the way they were. Everything’s changed, for better or worse,” he explained. “I think a lot of key businesses that have learned how to thrive in that environment over the last few years are coming out stronger than ever.”