Chamber of Commerce calls it quits
Beaufort Delta Board of Tourism and Trade takes over

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Apr 04/97) - The Inuvik Chamber of Commerce will cease to exist June 1.

The decision to dissolve the chamber was made last Thursday at the conclusion of a heated discussion on whether the organization's membership would be better served by joining the Beaufort Delta Board of Tourism and Trade.

After two hours of debate the chamber voted 3-1 to dissolve and donate approximately $10,000 in assets to the tourism and trade board "in return for assistance in paying the chamber's debt."

The assets consist mainly of computer equipment. It was purchased using government funding and, under the conditions of the funding, is not saleable.

That debt, approximately $5,000, was the main point of contention during the discussion.

Chamber of Commerce director Mary Beckett, who chaired the meeting, argued that if the chamber joined the tourism board, the debt should come with it. Beckett is also secretary-treasurer of the new board.

"The chamber has a debt, which it will have to take care of before we move on," said Beckett at the start of the meeting. "I don't believe we should try to dissolve while we still have that debt."

Beckett received some support, but tourism board director Beth Green and president Robert Cook assured the chamber they would not be walking away from debt by making the move.

"I'm not saying we're not going to help," said Green. "I'm just saying it's not going to be a merger because we don't want to saddle the new organization with debt. We can't take money from people who had nothing to do with creating that debt."

Green said even if she wanted to she didn't have the authority to accept the debt on behalf of the tourism board without board approval.

Because of the possibility it could be dissolving, the chamber has not been collecting membership fees this year. Just seven of last year's 43 members have paid their 1997 dues. After dissolution, each business will decide on its own if it wishes to join the new organization. The annual membership fee for the tourism board is $100.

Another issue of concern for chamber members is how well represented business would be by the new organization, which is composed largely of tourism operators.

"The last two meetings I've been at, especially the last one, I kept bringing up that point," said Chris Garsen, a member of both organizations. "But my voice was pretty lonely, off in the background, saying `What about business? What about business?'"

Garsen added that having three or four business people at each meeting would go a long way to increasing the influence of the business community in the new organization.