B.C. Chamber of Commerce week is coming up (Feb. 14-18). The week recognizes the contributions Chambers of Commerce make to their local communities.
The Reporter recently caught up with Scott Wheatley to have a coffee and a chat about what’s on the horizon for the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce in 2022. Wheatley is the Chamber’s executive director.
Regarding B.C. Chamber of Commerce week, it’s interesting to note Surrey has three Chambers: Cloverdale, the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce, and the Surrey Board of Trade.
According to Industry Canada, boundaries for the three are clearly defined. Wheatley’s Chamber encompasses Cloverdale, Clayton, and Campbell Heights.
From Industry Canada: “Cloverdale District within the municipality of Surrey and is more particularly defined as situate lying and being within the municipality of Surrey in the province of British Columbia and is more particularly described as commencing at the intersection of the International boundary and the Latimer Road, thence northerly along the Latimer road to junction of the said Latimer Road and the Trans-Canada Highway, thence north westerly along the Trans-Canada Highway to the junction of the Coast Meridian Road, thence southerly along the Coast Meridian Road to the junction of the Constable Road, thence Easterly along the Constable Road to the junction of the Pacific Highway, thence Southerly along the Pacific Highway to the International boundary, thence Easterly along the International boundary to the point of commencement.”
Industry Canada notes the Surrey Board of Trade covers, “The municipality of Surrey, save and except that portion within the district of the Cloverdale Board of Trade.”
According to Industry Canada, when the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber filed their application in 1937, this is the description that was approved, “South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce: Fractional sections 6 and 7, 18 and 19 Township seven East of Coast Meridian road, and fractional sections 4, 5, 9,10,11 and sections 12, 13, 14,15,16, 21, 22,23 and 24 in Township one, West of the Coast Meridian, all in the Municipality of Surrey, in District of New Westminster.”
Malin Jordan: So, B.C. Chamber week is coming up. Most towns have one Chamber. How did Surrey end up with three?
Scott Wheatley: At one point there were five Chambers and three amalgamated in 1964 to become the Surrey Board of Trade. At the time, South Surrey and Cloverdale chose to stay apart and they continue to be separate to this day.
MJ: What do you think the reason was, obviously you weren’t around back then, but what do you think the reason was that Cloverdale decided to stay out of the amalgamation in ‘64?
SW: Well, Cloverdale is the historic centre of Surrey. From Cloverdale to Clayton Heights, it’s surrounded by farmland. As the area developed there was still separation from the rest of Surrey. So it’s sort of maintained this independence. People in Cloverdale, I think, would say they’re Cloverdale first and not Surrey first.
MJ: What are some of the benefits of being a Chamber member?
SW: Well, the biggest one is the Chamber’s Plan benefits. You have to be a member of a Chamber of Commerce to have these benefits. So if you’re a small company and you want to get a dental plan or extended health, it can be very expensive. The beauty of the Chamber’s Plan is that 31,000 Canadian businesses are part of it. We also have other discounts and things from other suppliers.
MJ: What’s unique about the Cloverdale Chamber?
SW: The Cloverdale Chamber is very member focused. We’ve got a lot of small members. The cost is not a barrier to join the Chamber. The benefits for a small company are many and the benefits program is good. Plus, they’ve got a voice. We’re well connected to both the city council and local MLAs and to area MPs. So we’re able to support our members by advocating on their behalf.
In Campbell Heights, which is also part of our geographic area, we’ve been very involved in trying to work on improving transit.
MJ: Have you been getting anywhere with Translink on that?
SW: I got their attention, but so far their “2050 Plan” doesn’t include any improvements. We’re working on getting a nonpartisan coalition of politicians together, so we can continue to pressure them for transit improvements. So there’ll be more of that going into March; we’re going to have a meeting for all local stakeholders.
MJ: What’s your ultimate goal? What would you like to see?
SW: Surrey transit is very much east-west orientated. So for people in the north, SkyTrain goes to Vancouver. Eventually in 2028, it’ll be going to Langley. If you want to catch a bus to Campbell Heights, you have to go through White Rock or Langley. You can’t get at it from the north or the south. There’s no north-south bus service. So if someone wants one of those 1,000s of jobs that are down in Campbell Heights, they have to drive or spend hours upon hours on the bus.
MJ: So would you say Campbell Heights is in dire need of bus service?
SW: Yes, we need north-south service and we need it now. And we need 24-hour service. Right now we don’t have 24-hour bus service going into an area that has 24-hour shifts. Right now, a lot of the bigger businesses down there only operate two shifts a day.
MJ: Have you talked to business owners down there? If there was better transit, would that mean more shifts, more jobs, more production?
SW: Potentially, yeah. That’s a bottleneck to production.
MJ: What can you tell me about the iShop Surrey program? Is it exclusive to Chamber members?
SW: We’re opening that up to the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association. They are (Chamber) members as well. The whole key is to get people shopping locally. We’re doing it as part of our long-term relationship with the BIA, to allow their members a free coupon as well.
MJ: How’s that partnership going? What kind of things are you doing with the BIA?
SW: We get development permit applications in from the city all the time, so we will have opinions on those. Generally, we’re both pro-business organizations. We both support things that are relevant to the area.
We support each other with events too. For example, if the Rodeo Association holds a Country Fair parade this year, the Chamber will have a minor role in that. It’s more of a BIA event, they’re the leaders on that, but we’ll help. And it’s the same with our events, the BIA will help out and they are generally a sponsor.
MJ: What events do you have lined up for later in the year?
SW: I’m hoping to still have our traditional Rodeo luncheon, even though there’s no rodeo.
MJ: I’d love to see the bed races. I mean, why not?
SW: That could still happen.
MJ: Two years ago, there was a bed race. Just one team. Turkey came down and raced solo.
SW: Turkey’s just an all-around good guy. Important to the community.
MJ: What other events do you have coming up as we head into March, April, May, June, July?
SW: Once the green light is lit, and we can start having our luncheons again, we’re going to have Stephen Wu from the City of Surrey (economic development manager). He’ll come in and talk to members about the development side of things. As I said, we’ll have a Rodeo luncheon. We’re working with Vinoscenti Vineyards to have a wine, scotch, and cigars event. And I haven’t talked to the railway yet, but one of our most popular events is a train ride. So, we’ll hopefully do that again this summer. We’re going to get some fun events scheduled.
We’re getting back to member-to-member contact—get people networking again.
MJ: Any major outdoor events?
SW: We’re working on getting the symphony to play at the Bill Reid Amphitheatre. We’re working on that for hopefully June or July. It’ll be free for the public and it’ll be a partnership between the Chamber, the City, and other groups.
MJ: How’s membership?
SW: Membership is up. We’ve been through a pandemic and we have more members now than we did last year. So I think, hopefully, the Chamber has been a value to our members of the business community. We’re also looking forward to the new development on Hwy 10 (IntraUrban Crossroads) opening up.
MJ: Speaking of developments, are you in favour of the proposed development in South Campbell Heights?
SW: We are in favour of development in Campbell Heights only if it doesn’t impact the Little Campbell River watershed. They cannot infringe on that. So if they can work around that, then we’d support it.
MJ: Is there any will on your part to advocate for a pedestrian underpass, or overpass, from the museum to the train station?
SW: There’s been some talk about that, but so far it hasn’t gone anywhere because the cost is so high. With an overpass, you’d have to have an elevator on either side. It seems like it would be a big ticket price.
MJ: Well, Hwy 10 is very busy now. There’s a new hospital coming. I haven’t seen any plans for another bypass going through town east-west. Traffic is only going to get worse. What about starting a fund and getting something going now, so that even if it takes a decade, there’s a plan in place to eventually build something?
SW: What we’d need to do is get all the stakeholders involved and come up with a plan. I know when it was brought up before, it came down to a cost issue.
MJ: Anything you want to add?
SW: Just that Surrey is very unusual in that we have three chambers, most every other municipality has one. So sometimes it can be like three siblings fighting over the dinner table (laughs).