A promotional currency unique to Chemainus is about to go the way of the penny.
Chemainus Dollars — which went into circulation in the mural town as a form of spendable currency in 2010 — will stop being accepted, effective April 5. Anyone still in possession of them who wants to exchange them for cash must do so by that date.
The assets of the program are being gifted to the Festival of Murals Society, but Chemainus Dollars will revert to being only mementos of the area. Chemainus Dollars can be exchanged for cash by taking them to the Chemainus branch of Coastal Community Credit Union at 9781 Willow St.
The brainchild of Chemainus Festival of Murals Society founder Karl Schutz, was an additional tourism initiative for the community and the mural project, created in partnership between Schutz and Coastal Community Credit Union, the program sponsor.
Moira Hauk, Coastal Community’s regional manager for South Vancouver Island, noted Chemainus Dollars were created to help promote shopping and boost the local economy.
“Over the past ten years, people have started using different electronic methods of payment, moving away from cash-based initiatives like Chemainus Dollars. Today, this currency is mostly purchased by tourists to this beautiful area. I think it’s great that it will still be offered as a memento via the Festival of Murals Society.
“People are using more technology,” she added. “It felt like the time was right.”
The bills have various mural scenes on the back.
A display of the program will be provided to the Chemainus Valley Museum to recognize the contributions of the organization and Schutz to the community.
“We’re excited to take over this program and offer the beautifully designed Chemainus Dollars as unique collectibles,” noted Tom Andrews, president of the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society. “We’ll use funds from the previous sale of the currency to help restore the local bronze statues ‘In Search of Snipes’ located in Heritage Square. The program will also help us to sustain the ongoing maintenance and restoration activities of the society.”
Hauk thinks the Chemainus Dollars will continue to leave a legacy as a collectible.
“There is a large community of people that collect all currencies, different money,” she indicated. “It is of great interest.”
“We’re just going to give them out as souvenirs, for example, when people buy an official mural guide we might throw in a $1 or a mural book we can include some Chemainus currency,” said Andrews.
“It’s like a memento, a souvenir, which is kind of neat for tourists to take away.”
No one is too sure how Chemainus Dollars are out there, how many will be turned in and whether many people will simply hang on to what they have now.
Andrews said anyone who’d like more information on contributing their Chemainus Dollars can contact him at 250-210-2402.