Skip to content

Surrey, White Rock business organizations mull merger

‘Surrey & White Rock Board of Trade’ entity to be explored: officials

Two key organizations representing Surrey and White Rock businesses may soon become one.

In a statement issued Monday (March 11) morning, officials with the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Surrey Board of Trade say a letter of intent has been signed “to explore merging into one entity to be called the Surrey & White Rock Board of Trade collectively serving the White Rock and Surrey municipalities.”

It’s a move in which “the pluses outweigh the minuses,” chamber president and board chair Bill Brooks told Peace Arch News.

“We think (a merger)’s good for our business community overall.”

The decision received unanimous approval from both organizations’ board of directors, and a joint task force is in place “to fulfill legal and due diligence requirements,” the announcement states.

The move grew out of “trust-building discussions” that got underway in mid-2023, it continues.

“Both organizations have similar values and a long-standing commitment to serving the business community. Together, there is significant room to create organizational efficiencies and strengthen the value they bring to members and the business community at large.”

The announcement comes a year after SBOT CEO Anita Huberman called on Surrey council to review grants to the chamber and other business organizations that were being awarded with “no accountability” and “limited impact.”

READ ALSO: Surrey Board of Trade CEO calls for review of city grants given to a trio of local business orgs

She told Black Press Media at the time that she’d like to see organizations including the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce brought under the umbrella of SBOT, noting “that’s always been the goal.”

Brooks told PAN that the merger discussion was not a direct result of those comments.

“We’ve worked through a lot of things, particularly in the last… six months or so,” he said.

“Over time, it evolved into that.”

Benefits of merging cited in the announcement include expanded exposure, reach, networking and marketing opportunities; cost savings; effective use of financial resources and administration; and, “even more substantial influence and collective voice on local, provincial, and national matters related to business, economic development planning, and international trade.”

With help from a facilitator, the two groups have already agreed on a number of conditions, including the new name; that an office and presence would be maintained in White Rock/South Surrey; creation of a one-fee structure; and retention of all current chamber employees.

Whether the merger moves ahead depends on the two organizations’ memberships.

Task force members will bring a “comprehensive proposal” forward for a vote if the move – following further exploration of benefits, risks and feasibility – is “found desirable.”

If given a thumbs-up, “then we proceed to work through how it’s going to work,” Brooks said.

Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
Read more