There's grow local, eat local and spend local. Now, three Squamish citizens want to take that equation one step further - spend local using a local currency. Graham Fuller, Ana Santos and Jonathan Warner from Squamish have come up with an idea of creating a local currency called the Squamish dollar (Sq$).
"The main purpose of adopting this is to stimulate local pride and increase the sense of local community identification," said Fuller.
This is how the idea will pan out: these three Squamish residents will raise funds from within the community to pay for an initial printing of the specially designed Squamish dollars. Local artists will be encouraged to submit designs that capture special Squamish landmarks, like landscape features, buildings, local fauna, outdoor sports, local and Squamish Nation art. The best of these will be featured on the notes.
The Squamish denominations, initially $1, $5, $10 and $20, will be designed to look like real money. Once printed, they will be available for purchase by local citizens at par with the Canadian dollar.
The members are hoping that the currency will be designed in such a way that it will look attractive and tempting enough for tourists to buy and take away. Once that gets rolling it would generate profit for the Squamish dollar account that would sustain the project into the future.
Local currencies are far from a new idea: hundreds of communities around the world have adopted similar concepts. Closest to home are the nine-year old Salt Spring Island Dollar (SS$) and a new local dollar in Chemainus (CH$) that started circulating in April this year.
Besides fostering a sense of community, Fuller said, the Squamish dollar would also spread awareness and help in the purchase of local products and services, thereby reducing transportation cost and lowering the carbon footprint.
He also said the local currency would increase Squamish's public profile and stimulate greater tourist interest in the town. But more importantly, the earnings in this account would serve community needs down the road.
But for the idea to work, local merchants will have to accept Squamish dollars in payment for their goods. To that end, the Squamish Downtown Business Association is already on board. When the idea finally catches on, the trio hopes that local citizens will buy the dollars at exchange points as gifts or for personal use and spend them at local merchants of their choice just like the Canadian dollar.
Ideally, merchants will use them to purchase other local goods. But if they prefer, or find that they can't easily pass them all on, they can also take them to the bank anytime to be exchanged back to Canadian dollars at par.
"To buy and use the Sq$ will be a sign of local pride and an explicit statement of support and commitment to the local economy and local merchants," said Fuller.