Richmond business organizations now cannot include “Chamber of Commerce” or “Board of Trade” in their titles without consent from the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.
This policy, enacted by Citizens' Services Minister Jinny Sims on July 30, was in effect immediately as a way to protect the brand of “Chamber of Commerce” in B.C., following an advocacy effort championed by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
“We have been increasingly concerned about the number of illegitimate chambers doing business here in Richmond, the number is well over 20 by our most recent estimation,” said Barbara Tinson, chair of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
“Many of these organizations do not adhere to the non-partisan, inclusive nature of our movement and can easily cause confusion in the community."
She added that only one federally recognized Chamber of Commerce is permitted per district across Canada.
Matt Pitcairn, president and CEO of Richmond Chamber of Commerce, said the action will create "some checks and balances to support the Chamber of Commerce network and brand."
In B.C., a total of 52 organizations have registered their names with the “Chambers of Commerce” or "Board of Trade”.
These include the Canadian Chinese (Liao Ning) Overseas Chamber of Commerce, the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver Association and the Canwest Taiwan Board of Trade, according to a list shared by Sims.
The Chamber said it can’t speculate as to their motivations but in many countries, the terms "Chamber of Commerce" and "Board of Trade" have vastly different denotations compared to our Canadian understanding.
In some cases, this can be an umbrella term for a business association, or used to connote prestige or legitimacy, said the Chamber.
However, one thing that’s not clear from the list is organizations who operate in another language as a Chamber of Commerce, but have registered in English under a different name, according to the Chamber.
This is becasue currently, the province only registers names in English or French, so no formal regulations are imposed on any other languages.
The policy will only work for businesses registered in the future but not the ones that already registered.