Chamber takes on wider role

Duffy, Andrew A. Times – Colonist [Victoria, B.C] 07 Feb 2012: B.1.

The West Shore Chamber of Commerce may have its eye on a new year and introducing a new board of directors. But the business organization is intent on the course it set two years ago that sets it apart from other chambers in B.C.

Representing business in Colwood, Langford, Highlands, View Royal and Metchosin, the chamber claims to take a broader view of life on the West Shore and sees its role as both fostering development and a vibrant business landscape against a backdrop of maintaining a healthy, livable community.

According to CEO Dan Spinner, the mandate comes straight from the community: “We asked how the chamber could best serve the West Shore, and [the answer] came back saying people wanted us not to just be a voice of business, the traditional role, but saying we want you to take a leadership role in fostering the health of the community.”

“It was fascinating to see the direction we ended up in,” added Stephen Whipp, the chamber’s incoming president. “People were adamant around sustainability, adamant about not being inward looking.”

Whipp is joined on the chamber’s board by executives Allan McNeely as treasurer, vice-presidents Craig Pratt and Keray Stott and directors Kyara Kahakauwila, Christine Muir, Frederique Philip, Gerry St. Cyr, Lt. Col. Michael J. Woolley, Pedro Marquez and Steve Howe.

Whipp said for too long businesses have been unfairly dismissed as caring only about profit, while the reality is small businesses care about their community. “They understand if the community is not healthy they won’t be in business very long,” he said.

In taking a broader view, the chamber intends to bring the communities it serves together. And by collaborating with the public, municipalitie and school districts, the chamber wants to tackle pressing questions of transportation, health care, education, agriculture and sustainability.

“There are five very different views on how the world goes round,” said Whipp. He noted Langford and Colwood are on development tracks while Metchosin remains protective of its rural character.

“It’s important we all work together,” Whipp said. “We are all tied together.”

The chamber has launched a number of initiatives to bring that community together and explore the issues the region is facing. It has a TV magazine show on Shaw – West Shore Unlimited – that will dive into and highlight community stories. It is exploring the idea of creating a certification program for businesses to highlight sustainable practices. It is also partnering with Royal Roads University to study area demographics.

Spinner said the 65,000 people who live on the West Shore could double in the next 10 years. Having strong data to back up the trends will help with municipal planning.

The chamber also hopes to see its membership, now at 530, grow again this year.

Spinner said they have been seeing 20 per cent growth a year, a reflection of the chamber’s work as much as it is the growth in the Western Communities.

Credit: Andrew A. Duffy; Times Colonist

Illustration

Lyle Stafford, Times Colonist / West Shore Chamber CEO Dan Spinner says the group is playing a role in fostering the health of the community.;; Caption:

Word count: 523

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Copyright CanWest Digital Media Feb 7, 2012


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