Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce
Supporting and Growing Local Businesses since 1984
The Gabriola Island Chamber Story
The Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce was established in 1984. The Chamber members are a diverse group of entrepreneurs and family-owned enterprises. Members work together for the common good of our island community by providing services, support, and networking opportunities for business to succeed.
The Chamber is managed by a volunteer Council which is elected by its members. These Councillors sit on a wide variety of committees to ensure that the Gabriola business community is represented in the decisions made for our island. The Chamber also employs two professional contract staff. The work of the Chamber is carried out by staff, volunteer committees, and task forces.
The Gabriola Island Chamber relies on membership dues and fundraising events to support its activities. Destination BC provides operational funding for the Visitor Centre.
Expanding into Economic Development
In 2016, the Gabriola Chamber began the exploration and creation of a local economic development plan. The grassroots initiative envisioned sustainable economic growth rooted in island values and presented actions towards building local resiliency through collaboration.
With the support of Island Coastal Economic Trust and Community Futures Central Vancouver Island, the Gabriola Economic Readiness Plan was developed through wide community engagement and facilitated sessions with residents, business owners, and local organizations.
In 2017, the Community Economic Development initiative was underway when the Gabriola Chamber saw an opportunity to hold a Service Agreement with the Regional District of Nanaimo for Tourism and Economic Development.
With the Service Agreement in place, the Chamber applied for and was awarded funding from the BC Rural Dividend for implementation of the Economic Readiness Plan.
In March 2018, the Economic Development Advisory Group was formed as the advising body for the Community Economic Development Officer.
The Economic Development Advisory Group is an integral part of the Community Economic Development initiative as they represent the whole of the population. Their input, direction and advisement encourage positive community, environmental and social impacts as well as build a resilient, robust and sustainable local economy. In May of 2018, Julie Sperber was hired as the Community Economic Development Officer.
Chamber Staff and Volunteers
Erin Udal (Champion)
Erin joined the GICC in September 2023. She holds two degrees from Simon Fraser University (B. Sc and B. Ed) and has worked in public education and managed projects spanning social and environmental community programming for 10+ years.
Erin is a Member of Canada’s Institute of Corporate Directors and currently sits as a Board Director with the Gabriola Community Bus Foundation, the Native Bee Society of BC, and is Director of the Gabriola Earth Day Celebration.
Operations and Members Services Manager
Lottie holds a professional designation of RPA (Real Property Administrator), and holds a BFA from York University and has 16 years of corporate experience managing Class A commercial real estate in downtown Toronto and the GTA. As a previous business owner, Lottie is well positioned to support businesses and manage the Visitor Center for the GICC.
Lottie enjoys seeing businesses as they grow and build resilience to the numerous challenges of operating a business in a small community. Lottie is also a community member as part of the Gabriola Commons, and a member of the South Commons Allotment Gardens.
With the help of our team of dedicated volunteers and funding from Destination BC, the Gabriola Chamber runs the island’s Visitor Centre in the heart of the village core.
Destination BC provides operational funding for the Visitor Centre.
We love our volunteers! If you or someone you know has a love and passion for our beautiful island; likes interacting with and meeting people; and enjoys sharing knowledge about Gabriola, then helping at the Gabriola Visitor Centre is the perfect volunteer position for you.
Contact us and let us know!
Graham joined the Chamber in 2017 and is Board President. Graham has a reputable history of engagement in economic development on Gabriola, joining EDAG (Economic Development Association of Gabriola) in late 2017 and becoming Chair of EDAG in 2019 and then President of the Gabriola Chamber in 2020.
Graham graduated with a specialization in Human Geography and a minor in fine arts in Photography. He has been farming for 12 years and is owner and farmer at Good Earth Farm, and organizer of the Gabriola Food Hub. Graham joined the Chamber because of his interest in economic development, as a way to connect with other small business owners and to carry out volunteerism in his community.
Good Earth Farm
Gabriola Food Hub
Jen joined the Chamber Board in 2020 and is Board Secretary. Jen grew up on Gabriola Island and after over 10 years living in Victoria and on the West Coast, she moved back with her partner and young son in 2019. Once back on Gabriola, Jen co-founded Ground Up Cafe & Catering in 2022.
Jen brings an extensive background in tourism and hospitality to the Chamber, from kayak guiding to bartending to accommodation management. She earned her MA in Tourism Management from Royal Roads University in 2014. Jen also brings a strong administrative background, having worked with the Tofino Chamber, and with various organizations and not-for-profits. As a small business owner Jen knows how important the Chamber is to the business community and she wanted to bring her restaurant/cafe perspective and deep roots and connection to Gabriola to the Chamber. Jen is also Board Secretary of the Gabriola Cooperative Preschool.
Jillian joined the Chamber in 2021 and is member of the finance committee. Jill has lived on Gabriola for 49 years and is Assistant Manager of the Coastal Community Credit Union (CCCU) on the Island.
With a deep commitment to community, Jill supports fundraising and community events through CCCU’s many annual activities including the Concert on the Green, Gabriola Easter Egg Hunt, and Secret Santa Christmas Fundraiser. She is an advocate for small businesses and joined the chamber to volunteer her efforts to further support the business community.
Catherine Hallam joined the Chamber board in 2023. A resident of Gabriola for over 10 years, but a global citizen at heart, Catherine opened Free Spirit Gallery & Shop in 2021, fulfilling a lifelong dream to create a space where both emerging and established artists could be celebrated, and to make visual arts accessible to everyone, and is rooted in community-driven principles. Catherine represents upwards of 70 different local artists & artisans, primarily Gabriolan.
Catherine has a B.Ed. Arts Education ( B.A.A. Fashion Marketing and BA Visual Communication) and brings global living and work experience to the Chamber. She joined the Chamber to offer a retail perspective and support small business on the island. Catherine is also a member of the Gabriola Arts Council and R.I.E.P.
Originally from Calgary, Glenys joined the Chamber board in 2023 and is Board Treasurer. Her background includes working within the economic development sector in Saskatchewan, and being a logistics officer (HR & finance) with the Canadian Armed Forces.
Glenys holds a Bachelor of Tourism Management degree from Vancouver Island University and is a volunteer at the Visitor Centre. Additionally, Glenys is a firefighter with the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department, and works on-call as a paramedic for BCEHS on Gabriola.
Glenys joined the Chamber to contribute her vast experience in economic development, finance, tourism management, and emergency services perspectives.
Brock Poesiat joined the Chamber board in 2023. Brock studied electrical engineering at the University of Victoria. He is the past president of the Engineering Students’ Society and a member of the intercollegiate sailing team.
Brock works as a software developer with business experience on Vancouver Island and Hawai’i. Brock previously volunteered as a big brother at Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawai’i. He now works remotely for a US-based company that builds laboratory information management software.
Brock joined the Chamber to give back to the Gabriola Community in which he grew up and cherishes.