By: Harmeet Singh

Shopping locally is an ideal that’s promotion has exploded recently, especially in terms of buying food. It’s not always easy to purchase everything locally, especially in small communities like Valemount and McBride.

This year, several communities in the Columbia Basin will be participating in the Columbia Community Dollars program. The idea is this: businesses donate to local community groups or organizations in exchange for tax receipts. The community group would then exchange Community Dollars for Canadian Dollars from locals. Locals can then spend their Community

Dollars at participating businesses. The businesses decide how much they will accept for paymentsâ€for example, a purchase could be paid for in 50 percent Community Dollars and 50 percent Canadian Dollars.

My first thoughts on this initiative were critical, mainly because it took me forever to actually get it, even with video and a couple of pretty extensive charts on the Community Dollars website. Oh, there’s a PowerPoint presentation, too. (Don’t worry, you don’t need an economics degree to crack this oneâ€I think it’s just me).

But then I thought, is what a community needs to bring it together and counter the challenges it might be facing? After all, the imagery on a nation’s currency is a significant indicator of how it views itselfâ€its identity. Would Valemount’s image paint an optimistic future for the village?

The dollars, which will be used among several communities, including Valemount, will include security features to prevent counterfeiting. The Community Dollars group is holding a design contest for each community’s new currency. What exactly is Valemount’s identity, and how would it transfer to an image on a paper bill?

Well, obviously we’d have to include some major landmarks. For Valemount I suppose that means deciding between Mount Robson and the Saas Fee plot. Both integral parts of the Valemount landscape.

And of course, the major playersâ€maybe a local businessperson could be our Queen Elizabeth or Wilfred Laurier.”  Or perhaps an animal as majestic as the beaver, the polar bear or the loon? Naturally, I would suggest a goat, of the Rocky Mountain variety. What noble creatures.

Regardless of who or what is on it, whether people will actually use it is the more important question.

The idea of being able to donate to an organization without losing buying power at local stores is definitely an intriguing one. How great would it be, after all, to help a local food bankstock up and still be able to enjoy dinner out with friends?

I’m as often an idealist as I am a sceptic, and I’m stuck on this one. I would encourage our readers to tell us what they think about the idea. Will this encourage people to shop locally? Will this be a better incentive to donate to local organizations? And who might be the face of the Valemount dollar?