01/19/2016 16:19 EST | Updated 01/19/2017 00:12 EST

Vancouver Board of Trade CEO defends re-branding

The Vancouver Board of Trade is defending its decision to re-brand itself as the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, despite criticism from other business advocacy groups.

"This is the re-branding of the organization to simply reflect who we've been for over a century," said CEO Iain Black, adding that 50 per cent of their current membership is from outside Vancouver.

The change was ratified in a vote held January 15.

While there have been no explicit alterations to the organization's mandate or membership, the Surrey Board of Trade has come out against the change.

Surrey's Chief Executive Anita Huberman says she has concerns that an organization called the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade could create confusion by implying it represents local businesses in municipalities which are already supported by such advocacy groups.

"We will be monitoring their actions, and making sure that there is no confusion in their marketplace as to their role, and to ensure that they're not compromising other chambers and other boards of trades in the Metro Vancouver region," she said late last week.

In the meantime, she plans to bring her organization's opposition to Industry Canada, the federal arm that works to support Canadian businesses.

Putting fears to rest

Black, however, doesn't feel his organization's new name will have such an effect.

"I think the relationship we have with the other chambers has been proven in previous years," he said, referencing collaboration between the the regional BoTs and chambers of commerce during last summer's transit plebiscite.

"We will be working very diligently to ensure that those fears are put to rest because we have never, ever spoken for other organizations."

Despite his reassurance, there is nothing to stop businesses in Surrey or any other municipality from joining Vancouver's BoT, no matter its name. 

"We can take membership from Mars if we want," said Black.

He says the re-branding will be rolled out in the coming weeks, with the release of a regional economic assessment on January 26.