Friends & Neighbours: A Passion for Sidney!

by Susan Simosko –

Spend one day with Donna Petrie and your head will spin. With astounding energy, Donna fulfills the complex role of Executive Director for the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society (SBIA). At any given moment, she juggles dozens of projects and initiatives, speaks with SBIA members, supports, promotes and helps coordinate large-scale community events, works with the media and designs the SBIA’s next brochure or ad – and that’s just for starters! Donna’s workload is not for the faint of heart! What’s most impressive, however, is Donna’s passion to get the job done right, always with a smile, and always in a way that celebrates Sidney.

After working many years in the hospitality and film industries, Donna arrived in Sidney two years ago to work with the newly-formed SBIA. As she puts it: “I always wanted to work in a small town and collaborate with others to make a noticeable difference. I couldn’t be happier with how it’s worked out.”

Her primary role as Executive Director is to help the SBIA fulfill its mandate to “increase footsteps to Sidney.” She does this in multiple ways, primarily by creating and implementing innovative marketing and promotion strategies to showcase Sidney as a unique, fun and beautiful destination. “Our marketing strategies focus on attracting people from local and regional communities,” Donna tells me, “but we also market well outside the region too, such as in Portland and Seattle. And of course through social media, we reach people around the world too.” She loves hearing stories of people from Mexico, Scotland, or Japan, for example, who have learned about Sidney through the SBIA’s social media efforts. “It’s crazy,” she says, “just how powerful social media is!” The SBIA’s Facebook page has become a regular repository for photos and stories about Sidney.

The SBIA is funded through a levy on commercial properties so, as Donna puts it: “Every business and property owner is part of my professional family. I want each and every one to succeed and make the most of the footsteps – the potential customers – we attract to the town.”

Donna works as effectively with not-for-profit organizations as she does with the business community. “We are so lucky,” she says. “Look at the incredible cultural and recreational resources we have: the Mary Winspear Centre, the Sidney Museum, the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, the Community Arts Council, the Peninsula Celebrations Society, Panorama, and so forth! It is such a rich and wonderful place – and that doesn’t even include the natural beauty that surrounds us all. Truly, I landed in a remarkable community.”

Donna also has high praise for Town of Sidney staff. “Right from day one, everyone has been so welcoming and supportive of our work,” she says. “Just look at Christmas in Sidney or Family Day – these events would not be possible without the collaborative efforts of the Town working closely with the business community and our local organizations.”

In addition to her job, Donna is mom to Rowan, aged seven. She is also completing a diploma in Public Relations at UVic and serves on the Victoria Film Commission Board. “The purpose of the Commission is to market and promote the Greater Victoria area to the film industry,” she tells me, quickly adding, “and that includes Sidney too, of course!”

Donna can be contacted at

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