Chamber Does Not Speak For Business

By February 17, 2015Hot Topic, Mike Archer

By Mike Archer. Despite having supported some of the most outlandish and damaging plans and policies in recent memory; continually lobbying for the expenditure of hundreds of millions of their friends and neighbours money on self-serving schemes like Plan A, and having backed the wrong candidates in the last election, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce still seems to be laboring under the misconception that it speaks for or represents the business community of Abbotsford.

It doesn’t.

In a press release issued on Friday, February 13, Allan Asaph, Executive Director of the Chamber, claims to speak for the business community – Business Speaks Up On The Official Community Plan.

While the fact that the Chamber supports a political initiative in Abbotsford is usually enough to send taxpayers grabbing their wallets and sounding the alarm, the new Official Community Plan (OCP) is a welcome initiative and, though not perfect, a huge step in the right direction.

For once the Chamber is supporting a good idea.

Other than ego, what makes Asaph believe his organization, in any way, represents the business community or can be described as speaking for the business community?

The online business listings company Manta claims to have records on their site for 5,032 businesses in Abbotsford.

The City of Abbotsford says that, based on business licences issued, we have we over 6,000 businesses in Abbotsford.

The Chamber claims membership of roughly 800 members.

Based on the City of Abbotsford’s figures, that’s only 13 percent of the business community which has seen fit to join the Chamber of Commerce. As I’ve stated before, all of the chambers of commerce which I have joined or covered over the last 26 years, while made up of groups of good people who can get things done for themselves and their members, are primarily made up of small business people looking for networking opportunities and contacts in order sell their goods or services to one another.

As far as I have ever seen, they have no particular expertise in public policy, planning, or economic development. I’ve never met a Chamber of Commerce executive who knows a thing about public finance, the financing of sports arenas or hockey teams, water management systems, drug addiction, alcohol dependence, mental illness, homelessness or any of the issues into which this chamber has decided to stick its oversized nose.

They know how to build and protect a small business – and kudos for that – but who, other than the small number who make up the executive of the Chamber, really believes that they speak for the business community?

With a reduced presence in the backrooms of City Hall and an embarrassing track record of supporting every harebrained idea in the long list of harebrained ideas in Abbotsford over the last decade or so – from the $500,000,000 spent and still to be spent on Plan A, to their support for the $300,000,000 new water supply we didn’t need – the Chamber executive has a lot of explaining to do about the projects, plans and ideas it supports.

Its role in supporting the organizations, policies and decisions which have helped create and worsen the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis tend to make it the kind of organization forward-looking, progressive businesses might want to steer clear of.

In future Allan, please consider having your press releases say, “Chamber Speaks Up On …” rather than, “Business Speaks Up On …”

It has the benefit of being more accurate and certainly more truthful. It is also less offensive to the large majority of businesses which are not members of your organization, many of which don’t want to be associated with the incredible bad judgment your executive has shown and the enormous amount of damage you have done to your community.

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