By Michael R. Macnamara, chair of the board of directors
Sometimes when an organization is very active and advocates in many different areas, the process of this advocacy and how positions are agreed upon, can be forgotten or misrepresented over time.
It is our intention to provide some much-needed clarity and factual information on how the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce arrived at our position in support of the development of a new casino in Greater Sudbury.
In 2013/14, the chamber struck a task force with the mandate to examine both the pros and cons of a new casino development.
Over the course of the year, the task force spoke with proponents, opponents, social service representatives, and economic development experts; researched the experiences of other communities that have casinos; and surveyed our members.
After this year of study, the chamber publicly supported a casino development with two caveats: 1) that it had to be combined with another significant development such as a convention centre or arena/events centre, and 2) that the revenues the city received be directed towards capital project items and not general operating funds.
We studied this topic extensively, hearing from stakeholders on all sides of the issue and hiring a third party (Oraclepoll) to execute an objective and statistically sound poll of our membership. The results showed that twice as many members were in favour of a casino compared the members who opposed it.
That said, we understand that our position was based on information from four years ago. The chamber has stated that if new information is available, our board would be pleased to re-examine our position.
The resignation of two of our directors was not because they had “the temerity to express dissenting views on the impact of a casino.”
Rather our board operates within a code of conduct that requires directors – once an open and fulsome discussion has occurred and a majority consensus has been agreed upon – to speak with one voice.
This policy is one that all directors are made aware of and agree to from the outset.
The two directors who resigned explained that, due to fact that they planned on publicly disagreeing with their chamber’s position, they could not adhere to the code of conduct and tendered their resignations.
While we were sorry to see them leave, we in no way believe in quieting the voice of our members or directors – quite to the contrary.
The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce takes great pride in its role as "the voice of business" and is guided by its mission to enhance business and community prosperity.
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our chamber and our community and we use the talents, expertise, and experience of our volunteer members to undertake the work that we do.
The suggestion that we cover our ears in ignorance is an affront to those who give of their time to share their views, lend their expertise and participate in our mission to support the business community.
We respect that not all decisions will be met with 100 per cent agreement and as a 122-year-old organization, we welcome the opportunity to evaluate new information as it becomes available.