Burnaby business group questions Vancouver Board of Trade name change

curated from burnabynow

A business turf war between local chambers of commerce and the Vancouver Board of Trade (VBOT) could come to a head this Friday.

The Vancouver chamber will be voting on a name change to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, but the move is causing a stir among other chambers around the region, including in Burnaby.

Officials with the Burnaby Board of Trade (BBOT) are questioning the name change, and this week met with members of VBOT to discuss the issue.

BBOT president and CEO Paul Holden suggested the name change implies VBOT speaks on behalf of the region, which they don’t.

“They have stated they feel that they are a regional voice, which in truth all chambers are, and not the regional voice, and in that case we would question the rationale behind changing the name,” he said.

Holden, who didn’t want to divulge the details of the meeting between the two organizations, was also critical of VBOT’s process for the name change, arguing it hasn’t allowed for a full discussion. He pointed out BBOT was notified of the change right before Christmas and only met with VBOT members this week.

“I don’t think the process has allowed for the kind of discussion that maybe would have been ideal,” he said.

Asked whether he thinks VBOT’s name change is an effort to poach new members from Burnaby, Holden said he’s been assured it’s not the case.

In late December, VBOT’s board of directors had unanimously voted to recommend its members vote to rename the organization.

“In changing our name, the board believes we will better reflect our regional advocacy efforts and the 5,000 members that we represent — nearly 50 per cent of whom make their living or own businesses that operate outside the City of Vancouver,” read a statement from VBOT’s chair Tim Manning.

“The reality is, our organization has been focused on issues that are region-wide for more than a century, because we understand that regional vision, leadership, and collaboration is critical to the success of not just our local economy, but the B.C. and Canadian economies as well.”

The NOW attempted to speak to a representative from VBOT, but was told president and CEO Iain Black was in a meeting and unavailable.

The vote to change the name will be held at a meeting Friday.

Holden said the local board of trade believes business does need a well-coordinated and strong regional voice, but suggested it would be best served by the creation of a formal standalone regional organization made up of local chambers, or under BC Chamber of Commerce.

He’s hoping the naming issue will help spur the conversation in that direction.

Holden also noted BBOT hasn’t discussed what it will do in response if the vote to change the name passes.

“From our point of view, we will continue to strongly and actively advocate for the interests of our members and the entire business community in Burnaby,” he said.

New Westminster Chamber of Commerce CEO Cori Lynn Germiquet said she’s not sure what VBOT’s intentions are with the name change, but suggested that each city and chamber has different issues.

“If what they’re proposing to do is have a regional voice that represents all business in Metro Vancouver, I’m not sure that would be in the best interest of New Westminster, because we have a unique voice here,” she told the NOW, also adding the concern is the VBOT change will confuse the market. “Why would we think that one voice is going to represent all the different unique voices in Metro Vancouver?”

Germiquet, who noted a group of chambers from around the region met last week to discuss the issue, also argued the local chamber represents mostly small businesses and their needs are different than the bigger corporations involved with the Vancouver board.

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