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Chambers lobby Northern issues

Thorunn Howatt
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 04/02) - With 49 members, the Norman Wells Chamber of Commerce has the greatest membership per capita of all business communities in the Northwest Territories.

Active since 1971, it will hold its next annual general meeting Feb.13. "We're sending letters out inviting non-members to have lunch with us and see what we are all about," said chamber president Marlene Malick.

Last year the group lobbied for lower fuel costs and against the proposed road toll -- an interesting effort since there are no roads in to Norman Wells. This year's projects include the co-sponsorship of a reunion in June. The chamber is also working to get cell phone service in the town. A representative from the Mackenzie Delta Producers Group will be talking at the general meeting, said Malick. Norman Wells sits on the shores of the Mackenzie River, the path of a proposed pipeline.

Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce

Fort Simpson's Chamber of Commerce will be holding its annual general meeting in less than a month but there is an order of business before the year's term is over.

The Deh Cho Resources Development Conference will be in Fort Simpson Feb. 11 to 14.

"We are going to host an evening on the first night of the conference," said president of the community's chamber board, Duncan Canvin, adding the 58-member business group will also participate in the conference's trade show.

Fort Simpson's chamber is busy with between 55 and 70 members.

A new board's mandate won't be set out until after the annual general

meeting but, "We are talking about liaising with the Norman Wells and the Inuvik Chambers of Commerce to further the plan to build or develop the Mackenzie Highway," said Canvin.

Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce

In the south-central part of the territory, the chamber is also busy. Fort Smith's chamber has 65 members. It owns its building and has a part-time paid employee, Bruce Gordier.

"There are 125 business licences out there but some people own two businesses," said Gordier. That means more than half of the business people in Fort Smith are involved in the chamber. Its annual general meeting is Feb. 19. Last year's major project, along with the NWT chamber and most other of the territory's chambers, was taking on the government's commercial vehicle toll.

Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce

More than 80 members make up the regional Kivalliq Chamber of Commerce. Members are from Arviat, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Repulse Bay and Coral Harbour. The chamber has been in existence since 1980.

"At least once a year we have an annual general meeting where we get our membership together," said Ray Mercer. It's quite a feat considering the organization hasn't an office or executive director, he said.

The year's topics are usually chosen based on the economic conditions of the year.

"The year before last we took housing as our major concern and through lobbying the government of Nunavut, 100 social housing projects were built," he said. Last year housing was again first on the priority list and an additional 75 houses were built in Nunavut, he said.

The Manitoba-Nunavut road project is on the chamber's list of projects to lobby for along with a power tie-line.

"We've got a bunch of mines in the Keewatin that with cheaper power and cheaper transportation could possibly open up," said Mercer.