By Cole Parkinson
The Vauxhall Business Society (VBS) is continuing to push towards forming a Chamber of Commerce for the Town of Vauxhall.
The idea has been around for quite some time but there have been some challenges since the inception.
While the VBS has done some good for Vauxhall, the idea to become a chamber was based on the fact that chambers have more influence.
“There was a Vauxhall Business Association in town a long time ago, then it kind of peetered out as interest wained away and people left. It was resurrected as the Vauxhall Business Society, now with the Society it is only just that, a group of people that have common interests but it has very little lobbying power or influence. That thought was put to the board and the question was raised can we do anything long term with the VBS that can make an impact for each member? The biggest thing was also the area that we are working in, we called it the Vauxhall Business Society so by name that meant just the Town of Vauxhall and that’s what it always was. So the thought came to see if we can put together a chamber,” said Joerg Klempnauer, president of the VBS.
This isn’t the first attempt at forming a chamber as they’ve taken many steps but none have been successful so far.
“This ‘child’ was put into the world about a year ago so then it slowly came to finding out how you do it and that was the biggest hurdle because nobody can really guide you what to do. There is some information on the Internet and that’s what we used for guidance. As blue eyed as we are, not lawyers as we are, we went into this last year and signed up. It says in there that you need 30 people saying they want to support this and they sign a declaration and so on. You make a bylaw and send it all to Ottawa and they say yes you are a chamber. Well it’s not that easy, number one was that you need 30 people starting out and you have to have them sign up on a sheet of paper with a Commission for Oaths present to witness your signature, you’re also supposed to put a list in with the people,” said Klempnauer. “You cannot find any draft bylaws to tweak to your own needs so again we used what we saw and had our members sign that they agreed with it. We sent it to Ottawa and no, those bylaws are no good. We went to a lawyer and he couldn’t help us, so what we did was looked at the re-drawn bylaws in the Lethbridge chamber but it’s made for a much larger chamber than ours. So we rejected that and went to Taber but with Taber’s there were still some points that did not comply with new rules in place now so we re-tweaked it.”
The chamber bid comes with a decision on what kind of chamber the group wants and Klempnauer says it wasn’t a hard choice to make.
“There are a few different ways a chamber can be. You can have a chamber under provincial jurisdiction that is not really incorporated, it really is the same as a society so it still doesn’t have much clout. The next step would be, which is the one we’re trying to do here now, which under the Canadian corporate rules and the Canadian Trade Act incorporated and it’s like a business except it is not a business making money, it’s a business working for the betterment of all members. You would have the connection in the Alberta Chamber of Commerce which again is also a member of the Federal Chamber of Commerce.”
With the meeting less than a week a way, VBS focus has shifted towards the impending date.
With a set number of people needed to sign, the biggest thing the group is worried about is getting enough people to the consultation.
“The biggest thing that we need to do right now is some advertisement to get sufficient people into our meeting and see if there is enough interest. If we don’t get the 30 people signing up then we know the interest is not there,” said Klempnauer. “With this being a little more difficult to get into operation, we will see if the push is still there from possible members or not. We will have a better indication if our area really needs a chamber or not. If not, there is still Taber and we’ve worked with Taber in the past but Taber told us that their interest is in the Taber area. They’re really not geared or staffed to look further into Vauxhall, Hays or Enchant. It’s not that they don’t like us or they want only Taber to flourish, it’s just simple mathematics.”
Klempnauer says that the chamber would be an asset for the community as the group will be able to speak about the needs in the area as well provide some different things that will have a positive impact on the town.
“It’s different when you have an organization that has clout and connections that can speak on your behalf. That also means you have a responsibility for your own better or family and business. I think we take too many things for granted without thinking and without judging and later on we say why the heck didn’t we say anything. For a chamber, for us, I think the biggest thing would be health benefits for small businesses.”
The chamber would need 11 members including a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer but not all 11 members would need to be in attendance for each meeting.
If successful in recruiting 30 signatures, there would still be a four to six week wait to hear back about if the bid was successful or if any changes would be needed.
For now, the VBS is just focusing on getting as much support as they can in this bid.
“This won’t be an organization that flourishes unless it has the membership to support it. Not necessarily financially but more so with time and initiative,” said Klempnauer.
The meeting will take place on Nov. 1 at the Vauxhall Legion Hall at 7 p.m.