The Greenwood Board of Trade (BOT) will not be backing the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (BCRCC).
Greenwood’s BOT voted to protect its turf and defend its autonomy by passing a motion to no longer support the concept of the regional chamber and therefore not allow the BCRCC to operate within its jurisdiction.
BCRCC is preparing to apply for incorporation to Industry Canada, which has requested that BCRCC provide a letter of support from any existing boards of trade or chambers where it plans to operate.
BCRCC representatives had attended the BOT annual general meeting on March 9 to present their request but the issue was referred to a special meeting held March 17.
Thirteen members were present, plus Marge Maclean, representing the museum and visitor’s information centre (VIC).
BOT Past-president Jim Nathorst criticized the way the request was made, saying he had only received the business plan two days before the AGM and the formal request for permission to operate in the jurisdiction was only handed to him at that meeting.
He said as president of the BOT, he was not aware the BCRCC was planning on setting up office in Greenwood. According to the business plan, co-locating in the Greenwood Community Futures Boundary office was chosen because of its central location and it could minimize costs.
Maclean said she had read the business plan and was not impressed.
“All I can see in this business plan is that it is another level of bureaucracy and what it is telling me is that the governmental agencies like the regional district, Community Futures, Boundary Economic Development Commission (BEDC) and Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association are not doing their job according to this business plan. So this regional chamber is going to step in and do the job for them.”
Maclean referred to a Grand Forks Gazette article from July 5, 2006 about Grand Forks council support for a BEDC strategy of regionalized tourism development and a regional VIC.
Other wording in the business plan that drew comment included reference to the BCRCC as an “information hub” that would have a “key role” in tourism promotion.
Maclean reminded BOT members of what regionalization has done to the Boundary already – with Forestry offices closed, families moving on, and loss of services at Boundary Hospital.
“What regionalization has done to Grand Forks is just absolutely pitiful. What it has done to this Boundary district just makes me livid.
“The demise of the BOT is just the first step, then they go on to regional tourism. And what happens to our visitor’s centre? I am not sure, depends upon how political we can be or how much political pull we’ve got. We could either become a satellite of Grand Forks or we could lose our visitor’s center.”
Nathorst questioned the governance section of the business plan, which sets up nine director positions. “But when you look at that already Grand Forks is going to have three,” said Nathorst.
“They have the Grand Forks rep, the CFB rep, and they have the Grand Forks Credit Union.”
He had suggested formation of a council of chambers instead of a regional chamber. “Surely we could meet two or three times a year without forming another bureaucracy,” Nathorst said.
Greenwood Mayor Colleen Lang said that the city had only agreed to support the concept of the regional chamber after first determining how the BOT felt; hence their motion had only given support of the concept.
“I haven’t discussed this with my council,” Lang said, “but I feel that if you sign that letter you are signing away your autonomy.”
Nathorst said that without BOT permission, BCRCC do not have the right to come to Greenwood and solicit memberships.
When reached for comment BCRCC President Cathy Martinoff said, “It is with regret that the Board of Trade is not joining us on this new endeavour. The BCRCC is going forth and filing our incorporation papers the first week of April as planned. Therefore we will have to redraw our territorial map for Industry Canada excluding the City of Greenwood. We wish the Board of Trade good luck in the future.”