Public Policy Highlights
2019 proved to be another busy year for our advocacy and policy work. The Chamber welcomed high-profile guests including BC Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier, Carole James; Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, Mary Ng; BC’s Leader of the Official Opposition, Andrew Wilkinson; and Conservative Party Immigration Critic Michelle Rempel. The Chamber made significant breakthroughs on the issue of commercial property tax spikes, culminating with a Private Member’s Bill and eventually a set of interim measures proposed by the provincial government. We engaged in consultations on the Living Wage, and led the Chamber network in successfully opposing harmful changes to the Employment Standards Act. We were pleased to support a number of projects including the Westport Village development in Port Moody and the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion project to upgrade our trade infrastructure. With the BC Chamber we leveraged the Mind Reader Program which has given us access to cutting edge data about our local business community to help in advocacy. Finally, we hosted two packed All-Candidates Debates during the 2019 Federal Election campaign, and for the first time ever we performed live polling of the audience on the issues that mattered to them.
2018 saw the Chamber’s advocacy efforts re-energized at all levels of government. We welcomed a number of high-profile guests to discuss issues of concern among our Chamber members including BC Premier John Horgan, BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer, (former) Canadian Minister of International Trade Francois-Philip Champagne, and BC Minister of Labour Harry Bains. The Chamber advocated for solutions on a number of issues adding costs to businesses in our communities including the new Employer Health Tax, commercial property tax spikes due to rapidly rising real estate prices or zoning changes, and proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Code. We also engaged with two Task Forces: The Small Business Task Force where we shared recommendations to reduce potential barriers to success and support opportunities for growth for small business; and the 3030 Gordon Shelter Task Force helping to deal with business concerns stemming from the opening of the 3030 Gordon Shelter in Coquitlam. The Chamber closed off the year by hosting 3 successful All Candidates Debates during the 2018 municipal elections and a Panel Discussion on the Electoral Reform Referendum.
This year saw the Chamber become more involved with issues of land use and development in the Tri-Cities. We presented City Councils and developers with our recommendations on a number of proposals including the moratorium on the Austin Heights region, the Andres Wines redevelopment in Port Moody, and on the strategic vision for the future Ioco lands development. The Chamber also liaised with the Ministry of Transportation on the proposed changes to the Barnet Highway Interchange and provided input into how to best work with local members to minimize the effects of traffic disruption. Our big advocacy push this year was on the small businesses tax changes that the Federal Government announced at the end of summer. The Chamber came out strongly against the changes, conducted an information session for our members, a round table with local MP Ron McKinnon, and a letter-writing campaign to MP Ron McKinnon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Minister Bill Morneau which resulted in excess of 150 letters from MP McKinnon’s riding. The result of this outcry from small business across Canada led to a favourable revision of the proposed taxes.
In 2016, the Chamber took steps to refocus public policy and advocacy efforts through restructuring our policy committee structure. The introduction of the Policy Council and three issues committees allows for greater member participation in the policy process and more in-depth conversation on specific issues addressing our membership. The Chamber completed its first 2016 Provincial Budget Survey that will shape policy over the next year and become an annual assessment of members’ needs. This year has also seen the opening of the Evergreen Line Skytrain extension—a key investment the Chamber has been advocating for since 2002.
After receiving near unanimous support for a BC Chamber resolution entitled “Promoting Innovation in Regional Solid Waste Management,” The Chamber successfully advocated for the rejection of Metro Vancouver’s Bylaw 280 that would have severely limited access to solid waste services for business by limiting the market. The Chamber also joined 180 organizations in the Better Transit & Transportation Coaltion to advocate for a YES vote in the transportation plebiscite. While this unprecedented collaboration did not yield a successful outcome, our participation in the BTTC has laid groundwork for advocacy for future transit and transportation investment in the Tri-Cities. The Chamber also engaged in the Federal Election by running the first PigeonholeLive All-Candidate’s Debate which engaged a record number of voters across the Tri-Cities. In anticipation of the Evergeen Line opening in 2016, the Chamber successfully championed for a second office building in Suterbrook Village, steps away from the Inlet Centre Skytrain Station.
The Chamber created a public policy staff position for the first time, allocating resources for advocacy to all levels of government. As 2014 was a municipal election year, the Chamber hosted its first ever “Candidate School” to help business owners connect with candidates to better inform their platforms. The Chamber also submitted four guiding principles to the Renewing Riverview process, outlining the need for a renewed and expanded mental health campus on the Riverview Lands.
The Chamber saw the completion of the Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1 expansion which will better connect the Tri-Cities with the rest of the region. The Chamber also participated in a study outlining the economic significance of the Fraser River. The introduction of the Tri-Cities Intermunicipal Business License was a huge win for the elimination of red-tape across the Tri-Cities, allowing mobile Tri-Cities businesses to purchase one business license instead three.