- Our Town
New chamber manager asks islanders for input
Maria Steernberg has just been appointed as the new manager of the Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce and she is asking members of the community to share their ideas on what role they envision the chamber to take on. “I’d like to know what they want to see from the chamber,” Steernberg said. “I also have ideas what could be done to help the business community. And I’d like to put us on the map.”
Kevin Manning, one of the chamber’s board members, said, “That’s exciting news and it will breathe new life into the chamber.” He added that the organization, which relies heavily on volunteer efforts and is driven “by islanders’ desire to give back to the community,” is lucky to have Steernberg on board.
Steernberg is known for her pink boat that can be found cruising coastal waters to capture what she calls “those Kodak moments” as part of Sea Snaps Photography Ltd. She has been running her business for 28 years and has built up a strong connection to boating communities. “Sea Snaps is my main business,” she said, adding that it fits well with her new position.
“And I’ll have my sidekick Marina who will be wearing a manager’s t-shirt in no time,” Steernberg says and her Jack Russell, who has tagged along for the interview, looks up as if she wants to venture a comment.
Steernberg says she came to Bowen the first time in 1972 in her sailboat that she tied to log booms. In the early years with Sea Snaps, she got to know Norma Dallas and Rondy and Dorothy Dikes well. Since 2010, Bowen Island has been her base of operation. And, as the chamber manager, she says she will do her best to make sure that the community is not missing out. “It seems like Bowen has been missing a lot of boats,” Steernberg says.
Steernberg explained that she was attending a tourism seminar in Vancouver at the beginning of the year that specifically dealt with B.C.’s marine highway. Bowen Island was included on the map but none of the local marinas and amenities were listed. “They had Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay, Sunset Marina, Squamish and Gibsons but nothing on Bowen Island. That really opened my eyes.” Steernberg stood up and asked, “Where is Snug Cove and Bowen Island?” Since then, she’s made it her mission to promote Bowen Island as a visitor destination. Steernberg has worked closely with the chamber board and volunteers when she helped to organize Steamship Days this summer and has gotten to know the local business community through that experience.
About what’s on the new chamber manager’s desk right now, Steernberg says that she will work closely with Lorraine Ashdown, Mercia Sixta and Hedda Duntz on the Light up the Cove event. The chamber will also sponsor the Christmas trees that grace the lawn at the entrance to the boardwalk. One of Steernberg’s goals is to boost chamber memberships and plan a couple of fundraisers. And, of course, prepare for next year’s Steamship Days festivities.
“It has to be a balance of promoting tourism and promoting on-island businesses,” Steernberg says. “Islanders need to be aware of everything that is available locally from stores to home-based businesses to other resources. And it’s important that they support local businesses.”
And networking and communications can be powerful tools, according to Steernberg who will be reaching out to the Bowen Women in Business group as well as the community at large.
“It’s important that the community gives me direction,” Steernberg said. “I believe that with hard work and creativity, anything is possible.” For more information, please see www.bowenchamber.com.