The Trail and District Chamber of Commerce could soon see a big boost in their membership numbers.
The local chamber office is looking into joining ranks with the now defunct Rossland chamber, adding member businesses to Trail’s existing list.
The two chambers held a joint meeting in late March to discuss the potential merger and last week, the Rossland board and chamber members voted in favour of the merger in their own meeting.
However, Norm Casler, the executive director of the Trail chamber, says there are still plenty of steps to take before anything becomes official.
“Last month’s meeting with the Rossland chamber to discuss the possible merger was just the first step in a series of consultations and explorations that will take place over the next couple of months to see if this will proceed,” he said, adding that now it is time for the Trail chamber members to have their say. “The next step will be for the Trail chamber to call a special general meeting, ideally by the end of May to give our members a chance to discuss the idea, the opportunities and any concerns they may have.”
Casler says the opportunity to join forces with Rossland could move the chamber forward.
“One of the main benefits, of course, is strength in numbers,” he said, adding that the merger promotes togetherness in the Greater Trail Area.
“We are already the largest voice of business in our own communities and merging will only make that voice louder. This speaks to the whole regional collaboration initiative and gives us a stronger voice locally and regionally, but also with the BC Chamber of Commerce, the provincial government and on a national level with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Many people don’t realize that their membership goes far beyond our own communities.”
Rossland councillor and chamber liaison, Martin Kryusse, says the now closed Rossland chamber is thinking about its members and what a merger can do for them.
“My understanding is that the Rossland chamber felt that it was better for the membership to merge with the Trail chamber and that together, they could be a stronger force and provide better services for their membership,” he said.
Lisa Pasin, Trail councillor and chamber liaison, echoed Casler’s thoughts on togetherness, pointing out that a merger would promote a sense of community.
“What I like about this plan is that many of the platforms with the elected officials (in the municipal elections) talked about collaboration and better relationships with our neighbouring communities,” she said. “I think that this is just one small step towards where we are looking at our communities as the Kootenay Boundary or the Lower Columbia. We are looking at it as a more cohesive whole.”
The next regular board meeting at the Trail chamber is on May 11.