Alternative currency could be in pocket by April

Proponents of a new alternative currency are optimistic they’ll be able to launch in April, despite initial reluctance from some business owners.

Proponents of a new alternative currency are optimistic they’ll be able to launch in April, despite initial reluctance from some business owners.

Bill McNally of the Columbia Community Dollars group says they recently pitched the concept to the Nelson Business Association, and will meet with the Chamber of Commerce later this month.

Fifty-three businesses and organizations have expressed interest in the idea so far, including about 30 in Nelson.

“I’m getting the feeling a lot of businesses are on the verge of declaring their interest, but they’re concerned it may impact the bottom line,” McNally says.

“I keep telling them they’re creating another form of money that should circulate around the community.”

The system, developed by alternative currency pioneer Michael Linton, sees businesses donate community dollars, in whatever amount they are willing to honour, to community groups and non-profits in exchange for a tax receipt.

Individuals in turn exchange Canadian money, dollar for dollar, for the community money, and spend it at participating businesses.

McNally says they have to overcome fears that people will never see their money, or else there will be too much of it.

“The key is to reach enough depth and breadth of involvement by the business community that they can see places where they could realistically spend the money,” he says.

“Nobody wants to end up holding something they can’t get rid of.”

McNally thinks it’s unlikely to be a problem in the early stages. What’s important, he says, is that the money stays in the participating communities — which also include Rossland, Cranbrook, Fernie, and Kimberley.

They’re hoping to sign up businesses accounting for 300 employees in Nelson as a start. Other communities may have slightly lower targets.

“The idea would be to give it a significant shot in the arm,” McNally says. “Once people figure out how workable this is, their purchase decisions won’t be totally driven by price.”

The list of interested businesses and organizations includes

includes the Dancing Bear Inn, Hall Printing, Jagannatha Express, Lonnie’s For Her and Him, the Nelson Opera Society, and McNally’s law firm.

“It’s kind of fascinating who’s chosen to do it,” he says. “The most seemingly disparate types. I feel like once we get one person in a sector, we can get others.”

Individuals are also able to pledge to take a certain number of community dollars per month.

• Although the contest deadline to design the new currency was extended by a month, it didn’t get many entries. McNally says they may have to fashion the bills themselves. Nelson will be featured on the $5 note.