Members of the Kanata Chamber of Commerce voted to change the organization’s name Tuesday, setting it on a collision course with its city-wide counterpart over concerns the switch will create confusion between the two groups.
Ian Faris is the CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.
The membership voted unanimously to switch to the West Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, said Rosemary Leu, its executive director.
That gives the chamber’s board, which will make the final decision on the matter, added authority to go ahead with the proposal.
The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses throughout the city, has serious reservations about the potential change. It worries people will get mixed up by two chambers of commerce having the word “Ottawa” in their title.
Tuesday’s decision has only strengthened the Kanata Chamber’s resolve to proceed with the name change, said Ms. Leu.
“With the vote this morning, it clearly demonstrated...tremendous support,” said Ms. Leu. “But it’s not official.”
The Kanata Chamber decided to examine the change because its members include businesses in other parts of the city, such as West Carleton and Stittsville, meaning the name didn’t accurately reflect membership.
She said she hopes the two sides can come to an agreement that would avoid a legal fight. However, she believes there is nothing that should prevent the organization from moving forward.
That position has left the two sides more entrenched than ever.
Tuesday’s vote did nothing to change the opinion of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce that the Kanata Chamber shouldn’t be using the word Ottawa in its name, said Ian Faris, the CEO of Ottawa Chamber.
He said the organization has already registered the name West Ottawa Chamber of Commerce with the province of Ontario, which means the Kanata Chamber doesn’t have the right to use it.
He too would prefer not to have to settle the matter between lawyers, he said, but is still keeping that option open if he has to use it.
He wants to make sure that businesses consider his organization as the only one that can represent interests across the city, he said.
“I would prefer to approach it as a – I don’t know whether you can call it a competition or not – but we think we’ll do a better job of attracting members, servicing those members and providing value for those members and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Mr. Faris.
Those concerns are unfounded, said Ms. Leu. She said the name change would not alter what the Kanata Chamber does or how it does it, but would instead be more of a re-branding effort.
Ms. Leu expected the board would vote on the matter in the next two months.