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Chamber floats proposal mandating that all businesses pay membership fee

POWELL RIVER, B.C. – The Powell River Chamber of Commerce has a proposal in front the city, mandating that all new and existing businesses in the community join the chamber.

Chamber president Cory Carr explains how the process works.

“The general concept is that we would add $40 onto the cost of the business license for the year,” Carr said. “What this would do is automatically give you a Chamber of Commerce membership.”

According to Carr, a current chamber member typically pays an annual fee of between $173 and roughly $400.

“So what this would do is bring your cost down substantially if you are already a member,” Carr said. “It would spread that cost out over some of the new members, and our membership would go from 300 members to 1,000 members who would all hold business licenses.”

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As an example, Carr said his business’s fee would be reduced from about $400 to $40.

He added that new members wouldn’t “have to go through the hassle” of joining the chamber, and then making a separate trip to visit city hall to pay for a business license.

“It’s a one-stop shop, so I think that idea would be kind of exciting, as well,” Carr said.

Carr said the “hope is” that the chamber would provide extra value to all of the new members, and that they “would see everything that the Powell River Chamber of Commerce does, but every opportunity that they have to get involved in the business community that they might not know about, and really get out there and make those connections.”

However, with the proposal, businesses that aren’t part of the chamber would have to pay the $40 annual fee. Some critics believe it is taking away the right to choose whether or not they want to be part of the non-profit organization.

Carr understands there will be “push back” with the proposal, as businesses must become chamber members in order to operate in the city.

However, he compares it to how the Powell River Library operates: “Not everybody is going to use the library but everybody is going to pay a portion (for) it in terms of their taxes. It’s very similar in the sense that we’re all looking to support small businesses and all do our part to that.”

“It really goes to the support of the overall idea,” Carr continued.

“I think from the city’s perspective it would be very difficult administratively to only allow some businesses to participate (with the chamber) while others wouldn’t and they wouldn’t be interested in taking on that type of administrative relationship, unfortunately.”

The newsroom has reached out to Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa for comment.

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