New Chamber in Gladstone host first AGM


Online-Chamber AGM guest speaker

Photo By Penny Rogers

Vern May (standing), the executive director for Portage Regional Economic Development, was the featured speaker for the Gladstone Chamber’s AGM.

By Penny Rogers

Neepawa Banner & Press

It was a dark and stormy evening…literally…when the Gladstone & District Chamber of Commerce was saved from extinction.

Brittany Pollard heard through the grapevine that Dec. 31, 2017 would be the end of the long running board. Growing up with parents who both served in elected positions on the Chamber, Pollard knew what a loss it would be to the town if it folded. So she bundled up and attended what was to be the last meeting, informing them that she would take over as president, if they would give her two weeks to make certain she could fill the other positions. She filled them in two days.

Pollard, Melanie Wilson (Vice President), Tracey Jackson (Treasurer) and Stephanie Douglas (Secretary) have been busy ever since, familiarizing themselves with the duties of their new positions. And they are grateful to the outgoing board members - Nick Beavington (President), Don Kinley (Vice President), Karey Thiessen (Treasurer) and Sharon Vercaigne (Secretary) - who have helped make the transition happen smoothly.

On May 30, the new board held its first annual general meeting at the Gladstone Golf & Country Club. Pollard was “very impressed with the turnout” and was hopeful that it got people engaged and excited about the Chamber’s future.

The guest speaker, Vern May, Executive Director, Portage Regional Economic Development, highlighted the importance of networking, community development, the value of volunteering and regional partnerships in a well-received speech.

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Stride Credit Union sponsored Citizen of the Year Award by Branch Manger, Hali Nichols. It is presented to a person who has made a positive impact in the community and this year it went to Sian Pollard. Since moving to Gladstone from England in 1989, she has been an active member of the volunteer community including the Minor Hockey committee, Gladstone Arena board, 4-H Handiworkers and the United Church Sunday School program.

Topics broached at the AGM included upcoming projects and events. At this year’s Gladstone Agricultural Fair, the Chamber will be hosting a street dance on Friday, Aug. 10 and a children’s carnival on Saturday, Aug. 11. Also, for the summer, they are working to reopen the Happy Rock to visitors on weekend afternoons. The goal is to have community youth and seniors working side by side as hosts.

As is often the case, a shortage of volunteers is a concern, but the Chamber committee hopes that enough people will show an interest in helping out that each person would only be asked to do one weekend shift.

Volunteers are also required to help out at the street dance and children’s carnival and Pollard noted that many people are reticent to volunteer in fear they will be asked to do too much, especially when they only have limited time to give.

“If one thing sparks your interest,” she says, “then just come out and be a part of that. That’s totally fine.”

The hope is that the Chamber will become more of a hub that links to other organizations to help unify the flow of information and bring together volunteers or help get projects up and running. “I truly believe that we will be more successful working together than we are trying to tackle it by ourselves.”

And Pollard has one more goal.

“You used to walk down the street in Gladstone and you’d know everybody and we seem to have lost that small town connection,” primarily because more people are living in town but working elsewhere.

“You don’t get to know very many people anymore, so I think community events are the only way we are going to bring that back. We’d like people to look at the Chamber as a group who has come together to help our area flourish. To give us that welcoming, inviting small-town feel again.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , check out their Facebook page at or call 204/856-3307. There is a website coming soon!