Orléans postpones vote on Ottawa chambers of commerce merger

Three puzzle pieces

Members of the Orléans Chamber of Commerce voted Thursday morning to hold off on deciding whether to pursue a merger with the West Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce until after a new board is elected in June.

Craig Bater, an Ottawa lawyer and former president of the Orléans Chamber of Commerce, proposed the deferral during a breakfast meeting.

“I felt that the information given to the members was incomplete and, in some respects, incorrect,” he told OBJ after the vote. “This is such an important issue, so critical to the future of the Orléans chamber, that (the) new board ... coming in in June with five open positions ought to have an opportunity to reconsider this.”

The current board had recommended its members not move ahead with merger discussions in addition to placing a one-year moratorium on reopening the debate. They argued the proposed structure of a joint transition board gives Orléans insufficient representation. The current board members also sought safeguards that the Orléans chamber’s own funds are expressly committed to the benefit of the area’s businesses.

On the other side, advocates say east-end businesses would benefit from being represented by a unified, citywide entity.

The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and West Ottawa Board of Trade have said they plan to pursue a merger with or without Orléans, but would like to include the east-end business organization in their plans.

“We’re proceeding on a bilateral basis and if Orléans is interested we’ll welcome them with open arms, but we’re not going to be waiting,” Ottawa Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Ian Faris said earlier this week.