The Powell River Money Society is a member of the Powell River Chamber of Commerce
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The Chamber accepts PR$ at their regular lunch meetings.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

This page is split into three sections:

  1. Questions about local money and local currency in general
  2. Questions about PR-LETS
  3. Questions about the Powell River Dollar

Click on the section name above to go to that section. Click on a question title below to see the answer to that question.

Questions about local money and local currency in general

What is a local currency?

Why should I be interested?

How does it benefit me, a local business or my community?

How does it work?

Where does the money come from?

What does “Virtual” mean?

Is local money legal?

Is local money taxable?

Questions about PR-LETS

How do I get LETS dollars (LETS$)?

As an individual, what can I do with LETS$?

If I spend LETS$ do I get some back in change?

Are all LETS$ virtual?

Can I save LETS$?

Would I ever want or need to borrow LETS$?

As a business, how do I accept LETS$?

As a business, what can I do with LETS$ once I have them?

Can I trade LETS$ for Canadian $?

Can I trade LETS$ for PR$?

Who is in charge of PR-LETS?

How is the program funded?

How do I sign up?

Questions about Powell River’s Community Way $

What is the Powell River Dollar program?

What are Powell River dollars (PR$)?

Where do PR$ come from?

How do PR$ benefit Powell River?

How is the program funded?

How secure are PR$?

Individual questions

How do PR$ benefit me as an individual?

How do I get PR$?

What do I do with PR$?

If I spend PR$ do I get some back in change?

Can I trade PR$ for Canadian $?

Can I trade PR$ for LETS$?

Are PR$ all virtual?

Can I save PR$?

Would I ever want or need to borrow PR$?

Business Questions

How do PR$ benefit my business?

How do I join PR$ as a business?

How do I let people know that my business accepts PR$?

How do I deal with PR$ as part of my business accounting?

What does a business do with the PR$ earned through sales?

How are PR$ issued?

How is my PR$ account administered?

How much PR$ can a business issue?

How much does the PR$ program cost?

What is my obligation as a business?

Are taxes collected on sales?

Non-Profit Organisation questions

What kind of non-profits can take part?

How do PR$ benefit a non-profit organization?

How does an organization get PR$?

How can an organization use PR$?

What are the tax implications?

How does an organization join the program?

What does it cost?

Answers about local money and local currency in general

What is a local currency?

An “agreement” that you can trade for local goods and services. It might be entirely electronic or “virtual”, or it might be printed bills. In any case, you can use it just like real money in your local area, with anyone who agrees to accept it.

Why should I be interested?

A local currency keeps money circulating through the community instead of being bled away to distant locations. That means that every dollar gets used multiple times, and works harder. Local money can also be used to put under-used assets to work, whether those are people, buildings, or natural resources.

How does it benefit me, a local business or my community?

Individuals can benefit through greater access to goods and services; through more affordable training and education; additional employment; starting a business – there are many possibilities. In addition there are more intangible benefits which also improve the quality of life, such as the widening of social networks.  For business, this is a simple and cash-free way to increase sales, strengthen the local economy, and secure customer recognition and loyalty. Community groups have a powerful new fundraising tool and also connect to their community. Since PR$ are as good as CN$ at participating businesses, people can support non-profit groups without losing any purchasing power; by shopping locally, they vote for the community they want.

How does it work?

  1. Businesses within the community donate PR$ to a non-profit organizationwithin their community.
  2. Non-profit organizations can then exchange their PR$ with supporters for Canadian $, giving them funds to operate.
  3. Supporters receive a 1:1 exchange paid in PR$.
  4. PR$ can be used to purchase goods and services at participating businesses within the community, who accept at terms they set – for instance 50% on food in a restaurant.
  5. A business earning PR$ can then spend them with another contributing business, or donate them back to another non-profit organization, or top up staff bonuses, or other possibilities.

Where does the money come from?

The money is issued by the participating businesses, and has value based on their promise to take it back in part payment for goods and services. This is the same basic principle as that behind Canadian Tire $; even though they are more like “play money”: they have value because you know you can spend them at Canadian Tire.

What does “Virtual” mean?

Virtual means that something only exists on a computer. A virtual currency doesn’t have paper bills or coins, just accounts on a computer.

Is local money legal?

It certainly is. It’s a common misconception that only national governments are allowed to print money, but this just isn’t the case. Every government, community, organization, and individual has the right to produce their own money. In fact, when you write a check that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Is local money taxable?

Yes. If a transaction is taxable in Can$, then it is also taxable in PR$.

Canada Revenue Agency – IT490

Answers about PR-LETS

How do I get LETS dollars (LETS$)?

You use your account to earn and spend. For example: I pay you to paint my front door – $15 for the paint and $60 for your time. I give you $15 Canadian. We agree that I pay you the remaining $60 on our neighbourhood LETSystem. Your account rises by 60 and mine goes down by 60. You can now spend your 60 (or more, if you wish) with anyone else on the same system. Every time an account moves up, another account must move down by the same amount.

Because LETS is a “mutual credit” system, you can spend before you earn. If you start by paying Sally $20 to watch your kids, your account will go down by 20, and Sally’s will go up by 20. It’s OK if your account balance is below zero.

As an individual, what can I do with LETS$?

You can buy and sell goods and services with anyone else who has a LETS account. Check the Offers and Requests page to see what’s currently on offer, or take a look at the list of ideas for things YOU could offer to others.

If I spend LETS$ do I get some back in change?

No. Because LETS$ is all on the computer, all transactions involve exact amounts.

Are all LETS$ virtual?

Currently, yes. If someone without computer access wants to join in, though, we can set up ways to make paper transactions, like a LETS$ cheque.

Can I save LETS$?

You can let them build up in your account if you want, but they won’t earn any interest.

Would I ever want or need to borrow LETS$?

You can create LETS$ smply by spending them, so no need to borrow them.

As a business, how do I accept LETS$?

Simply sign up for a PRLETS$ account and provide your customers with a way to transfer LETS$ to you online.

As a business, what can I do with LETS$ once I have them?

Spend them on anything that’s available through the  Offers and Requests page

Can I trade LETS$ for Canadian $?

No.

Can I trade LETS$ for PR$?

You will be able to do so once the PR$ is up and running.

Who is in charge of PR-LETS?

PRLETS and the Powell River Dollar are projects of the Powell River Money Society.

How is the program funded?

At the moment, accounts are free and admin work is carried out by volunteers. If it becomes necessary to hire a co-ordinator because of the success of the system, funding options may be put in place.

How do I sign up?

Go here: Sign up for PRLETS

Answers about the Powell River Dollar

What is the Powell River Dollar program?

Powell River Dollars is a new tool for locally based fund-raising and economic development. Donations in Powell River dollars (PR$) connect businesses, non-profits and people in a mutually beneficial support cycle. These Powell River Dollars (PR$) circulate within the community, enabling more business and trade.

  • Businesses donate Powell River dollars (PR$), (not Canadian $ or products), to community organizations, schools and non-profit projects of their choice, undertaking to accept Powell River dollars (PR$) in part payment of a sale at a rate they set.
  • Non-profit organizations spend the PR$ at participating businesses, reward volunteers, hire local contractors, and trade PR$ for CN$ with their supporters.
  • People fund the non-profit organizations they want to support by exchanging CN$for PR$, which they then spend in any of the participating business, or use to trade with each other
  • Businesses then spend the earned (redeemed) PR$ with other participating businesses, pay staff bonuses, hire local contractors, and so on. They get tax credits on donations, and they collect taxes on the whole amount of the sale, just like CN$.

What are Powell River dollars (PR$)?

Merchant credits (dollars) that can be spent at participating businesses, at par, dollar for dollar, generally as a percentage of the sale price. For example, on a $20 meal, a restaurant would collect $10 in CN$ and PR$10, plus taxes on the whole amount in CN$.

Where do PR$ come from?

When a business registers and makes PR$ donations to organizations and projects of their choice, a PR$ account is opened and debited the amount of the donation plus any fees. The organizations and projects’ accounts are credited, and they then have PR$ to spend.

How do PR$ benefit Powell River?

For business, this is a simple and cash-free way to increase sales, strengthen the local economy, and secure customer recognition and loyalty. Community groups have a powerful new fundraising tool and also connect to their community. Since the PR$ are as good as cash at participating businesses, people can support non-profit groups without losing any purchasing power; by shopping locally, they vote for the community they want.

How is the program funded?

Participating businesses pay the Powell River Money Society a registration fee in PR$. PRMS exchanges the PR$ for CN$ with supporters of the PR$ program.

How secure are PR$?

PR$ are printed by a professional bill printing company which prints currency for countries worldwide. They use the same polymer material as the new Canadian national currency, and include multiple security features. Anyone who wants to put that much effort into counterfeiting would be better off focusing on a currency with a wider distribution! Our online systems use Cyclos, a stable, secure, open-source application used by many other alternative currency projects, hosted with a service that specialises in Cyclos and provides appropriate security measures.

Individual questions

How do PR$ benefit me as an individual?

Since PR$ are as good as cash at participating businesses, people can support non-profit groups without losing any purchasing power; by shopping locally, they vote for the community they want.

How do I get PR$?

You trade CN$ for PR$ at a cash exchange point or directly with a non-profit organization.

What do I do with PR$?

Spend them at any of the participating businesses, use them to trade with friends and neighbors

If I spend PR$ do I get some back in change?

If you pay with PR$ bills then you may well get PR$ back in change. If you wish, you might also accept PR$ as  change on a normal CN$ transaction.

Can I trade PR$ for Canadian $?

No.

Can I trade PR$ for LETS$?

You will be able to do so once the PR$ is up and running.

Are PR$ all virtual?

No, there are paper bills as well as electronic accounts. The bills are printed using the same high-security features as national currency.

Can I save PR$?

No interest is paid on PR$, so while you can “save up” for a specific purchase if you wish, there is no long-term benefit to saving them.

Would I ever want or need to borrow PR$?

There is no mechanism in place to do so, although you could make a private arrangement with another individual if you wished.

Business Questions

How do PR$ benefit my business?

For business, this is a simple and cash-free way to increase sales, strengthen the local economy, and secure customer recognition and loyalty. New customers wishing to spend their PR$ will also be attracted to your business, bringing CN$ along with them.

You can use PR$:

  • to attract customers – by accepting part CN$ and part PR$, the goods and services are more affordable while still being valued at their full price
  • to increase CN$ income – although the CN$ portion of the sale is now lower than the full price, total sales go up and CN$ income is the same or higher than before. In addition, local money has been earned which can be spent or donated.
  • to encourage customer loyalty – customers will like the deal and they come back again
  • to ease cash flow – if suppliers of goods and services (book-keeping or advertising, for example) accept part payment in PR$ money, then CN$ is available to help with other bills.
  • to gain a higher profile within the community – making donations to local projects in PR$ money is an affordable way of gaining good PR within the local community. Because the PR$ money cannot leave the system, it tends to come back, even when it is given away.

How do I join PR$ as a business?

Call or email the Powell River Money Society to set up a visit from our rep. We will go over how the system works, answer your questions, and sign you up!

How do I let people know that my business accepts PR$?

The PR$ project will provide window, door and point-of-sale marketing materials to help you let customers know you take PR$, and will include your business in our print and online publicity. You can also use the “we accept PR” graphics and text in your own advertising.

How do I deal with PR$ as part of my business accounting?

Powell River dollars are treated the same way as Can$ for accounting purposes. More details are available here.

What does a business do with the PR$ earned through sales?

Spend them with other businesses, pay staff bonuses, hire contractors, donate them, etc. Lots of ideas here

How are PR$ issued?

When a business registers and makes PR$ donations to organizations and projects of their choice, a PR$ account is opened and debited the amount of the donation plus any fees. The organizations and projects’ accounts are credited, and they then have PR$ to spend.

How is my PR$ account administered?

Just like a regular bank account, any transactions cleared through the accounting service are credited and debited accordingly and statements produced on a regular basis. Accounts can be managed through a website by the owner of the account, just like online banking.

How much PR$ can a business issue?

The PR$ donation level is based on the capacity of the business to redeem them, usually around PR$900 per full time worker (or equivalent). A 5 person business would donate PR$4500 to community organizations and projects of their choice

How much does the PR$ program cost?

It does not cost anything in CN$ to participate in the PR$ program. There is a registration fee of PR$100 per full-time-employee (or equivalent) in order to join. A business then accepts PR$ at the advertised rate set by them, usually a portion of any sale. If a business chooses to leave the program, it must redeem the amount of the current PR$ account debit balance.

What is my obligation as a business?

To accept PR$ at the advertised rate, usually a portion of any sale. If a business chooses to leave the program, it must redeem the amount of the current PR$ account debit balance.

Are taxes collected on sales?

Taxes are collected and paid in CN$ on the total amount of the sale, including the PR$ portion. Donations of PR$ to registered charities are tax deductible and wages paid in PR$ are taxable income.

Non-Profit Organisation questions

What kind of non-profits can take part?

Charities, registered or unregistered societies, non-profit co-operatives, amateur sports teams, parent groups, Scout and Guide groups, choirs – any kind of non-profit group can join in and receive donations in PR$.

How do PR$ benefit a non-profit organization?

Community groups have a powerful new fundraising tool and also connect to their community. Businesses have more incentive to donate because they get back a proportion of their donation in increased sales.  People can support non-profit groups and not lose any purchasing power.

How does an organization get PR$?

Ask businesses to donate them.

How can an organization use PR$?

Spend PR$ at any participating business, pay for unpaid staff time, top up wages, extend paid time, reward volunteers, and exchange them for CN$ with supporters.

What are the tax implications?

The PR$ donations made by businesses are treated the same as CN$ donations and are receipted accordingly. Any PR$ wages paid to workers are considered taxable income. See Canada Revenue Agency – IT490 for more detail.

How does an organization join the program?

Call or email the Powell River Money Society to set up a visit from our rep. We will go over how the system works, answer your questions, and sign you up! A PR$ account is opened with a null balance until PR$ donations are posted to the account.

What does it cost?

All costs are covered by the participating businesses – there are no fees to community groups.