Those famous Chemainus Dollars that went into circulation in 2010 are still worth their weight in cash, but only for a limited time.
The unique local currency, the brainchild of Chemainus Festival of Murals Society founder Karl Schutz, was an additional tourism initiative for the mural project and the community with the establishment of the Chemainus Monetary Fund. It was created in partnership between Schutz as the founder and caretaker of Chemainus Dollars through the organization and Coastal Community Credit Union, the program sponsor.
With changing times, 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 will no longer have any monetary value as of April 5 so anyone still in possession of them who wants to exchange them for cash must do so by that date.
The Chemainus Dollars can be exchanged for cash by taking them to the Chemainus branch of Coastal Community Credit Union at 9781 Willow St.
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.
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 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.”
Stefan, one of the two figures, is being remade by original artist Glenn Spicer of Maple Bay.
Once the tourism industry returns to normal, there are many uses for the currency that the society is considering.
“We’re just going to give them out as souvenirs, like 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.
“We don’t know how much we’re going to get until all the money’s converted,” Andrews conceded.
In the meantime, he said, people with Chemainus Dollars might want to consider another means of supporting the mural program during the transfer.
“If they want to donate Chemainus Dollars to the Festival of Murals Society, anything over $20 will receive a tax receipt.”
Andrews said anyone who’d like more information on contributing their Chemainus Dollars can contact him at 250-210-2402.