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In Durham, Chambers Speak For Business – Not Toronto Board

On February 9th the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce (GOCC) Board of Directors wrote to the Toronto Board of Trade on behalf of its membership stressing its disappointment in the Toronto Board’s decision of introducing a new brand name – Toronto Region Board of Trade. The decision by the Toronto Board was made without consultation and was clearly seen by the GOCC Board as an attempt to undermine the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the GTA Chambers of Commerce.

The letter stressed that the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce represented its business community and its members very well at all levels of government. The GOCC provides vital feedback and participates in the success and longevity of the Ontario and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce. The GOCC agreed with the position of Durham Regional Chair Roger Anderson that the Chambers and Boards in Durham speak for business in Durham – NOT the Toronto Board.

In early February a letter was sent by the Toronto Board to Mayors in the GTA as well as a similar letter sent to the Toronto Board membership stating that the Toronto Board’s policy and advocacy initiatives demonstrates how it champions the Toronto Region business community. In response to the letter the GOCC stated “your statement on how you have driven the cause for stronger economic coordination and competitiveness is disingenuous.” The letter outlined that the Toronto Board’s decision had little or no regard for the collective efforts over the past decade of the other twenty-one Boards and Chambers in the GTA. The letter also outlined how it totally ignored the fact these same GTA Boards and Chambers, worked collaboratively with Toronto to put in place the GTAA, the GTMA and in 2001 reinforced the business communities concerns for the need to clearly define the GTSB governance structure. Collectively, in the GTA, these Chambers and Boards represent well over 20,000 businesses in the four Regions of Durham, York, Peel and Halton. These collaborative efforts yielded positive results that benefit all communities, not just Toronto.

The strength of the GTA Chamber network is in its ability to speak for the business community on region-wide issues, such as transportation, through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

In today’s global economy, it is a situation of city-regions competing against city-regions. It should not be Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade competing against Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, which is what the Toronto Board’s announcement has done. The GOCC believes this one letter, with no consultation with the OCC or GTA Chambers, has shattered all the goodwill and past effort. What is most unfortunate is the Toronto Board of Trade had a good working relationship with the GTA Chambers and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce until 2008 at which time it deteriorated.