Nepean, West Ottawa chambers mull merger

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Two of the city’s largest business associations are looking at joining forces.

Gavin Leishman (centre), shown with Mayor Jim Watson (left) and Gloucester South-Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches, is past chair of the Nepean Chamber of Commerce.

By Jacob Serebrin

Members of the West Ottawa Board of Trade, which represents businesses in Kanata, Goulbourn and West Carleton, and the Greater Nepean Chamber of Commerce are scheduled to vote in mid-June on a proposed merger.

The plan has the backing of both organizations’ boards of directors.

“Basically, it comes down to a strength of numbers,” said Gavin Leishman, past chair of the Nepean chamber. “Two small voices don’t make a lot of noise at city hall or any other legislature.”

The Nepean chamber counts a little over 200 members, while West Ottawa has more than 400.

Mr. Leishman also sits on a task force which includes members of both groups and is studying the details of merging the two organizations including how to combine their boards, membership and finances as well as how much to charge for membership fees.

Both groups plan to hold information sessions for members over the next couple weeks, Mr. Leishman said, before separate meetings are held in mid-June at which the final decision will be made.

If the merger goes through, it will bring the number of chambers of commerce in Ottawa to three and be the first major amalgamation of local chambers since the Eastern Ottawa Chamber of Commerce merged with the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

The West Ottawa Board of Trade was known as the Kanata Chamber of Commerce until September, when it changed names to reflect the fact that it also represents businesses in Goulbourn and West Carleton.

The group had originally planned to call itself the West Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. However, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce threatened legal action against the Kanata chamber, saying it was worried that two groups with “Ottawa” in their name would cause confusion.

Organizations: Greater Nepean Chamber of Commerce, West Ottawa Board of Trade, Eastern Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Kanata Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Ottawa, Kanata, West Carleton Nepean

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