10 per cent shift in Ladysmith

For one month, they are buying their groceries down the street, walking to get their coffee and staying within city limits to shop.Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins, president of the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, Jenna Forster, and president of the Chamber of Commerce, Rob Waters, are pledging to shift at least 10 per cent of their spending on goods and services locally.“We’re keeping tabs of all our expenditures and then sharing what percentage is local,” Hutchins said. “From there we then make a commitment to strive for more than that.”The three have signed up for the 10 Per Cent Shift Challenge.“Our final goal is to have a complete community and a solid and viable business core,” Hutchins said.The 10 Per Cent Shift is a North American-wide challenge centred around the idea of buying locally to strengthen the local economy.“Money spent here goes back to the community,” explained Forster. “It’s important because it shows local support for local businesses.”Shopping locally has benefits, including supporting neighbours, being environmentally friendly and boosting the economy.“These are our neighbours,” Forster said. “They support everything — from a local sports team to a fundraising event —  it has a direct impact on everyone.”Hutchins agrees.“Small businesses create the living rooms of the community,” he said, adding the businesses are huge employment bases and pay a significant percentage of the town’s tax base.Hutchins said both business cores in Ladysmith have a tremendous affect on the type of community the residents want to build.“If you don’t have them than you acknowledge you’re a bedroom community,” he explained. “We want to live, work and play in our community.”Forster said the project will bring awareness of where money goes once it’s spent.“People live in Ladysmith for a reason — the community — we’re proud of our community,” she said. Forster said she already does the bulk of her shopping in Ladysmith.But she said, the goal is to increase any spending one already does in town.“It’s not about buying 10 per cent more than normal, but about shifting that 10 per cent locally,” she said.Waters said the project has already made him think of how much he spends locally.“We have to be a part of the experience,” he said of the Chamber of Commerce. “Get the message out to the community that it’s something doable and fun and you can save fuel and carbon emissions.”The environmental aspect plays a large role in the 10 Per Cent Shift.“It’s a very green thing to do,” Coun. Bruce Whittington said. “The less you drive to get the things you need the better for the environment.”Hutchins, Forster and Waters started the challenge April 15 and have until May 15 to see how much they spend in Ladysmith.“I want people to be aware of making that decision of ‘should I stay local or go somewhere else?’” Forster said. “Make a conscious choice and know why.”For more information on 10 Per Cent Shift Challenge go to www.10percentshift.org.