Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC

31st Annual Golf Tournament to see change

by Admin 28. April 2016 14:12

The Annual Kelowna Chamber Golf Tournament is always a fave. This year, the planning committee got together early to implement some fresh ideas.

The tournament has always had a giving component - a couple of different fundraisers going to different charities. The "Pro Takes a Shot" contest is a hole contest, where players can choose to have the course's golf pro take their shot for a small donation. The other contest for charity is a raffle for Westjet tickets. This year the committee has added in a third fundraiser, a 50/50 at dinner. Instead of choosing separate charities for each contest as in the past, the committee will choose one children's charity that all the funds raised will go to support, creating a larger impact!

What else is different this year? Well the course of course! We will be at stunning Harvest Golf Club this year! We are looking forward to the scenery and service that this fabulous Club has to offer.

Another notable improvement this year? We have changed the day of the week this tournament falls on. Instead of cutting into your weekend on a Friday night, this tournament will be on a Wednesday, breaking up the week after a long weekend. The 3rd week of May is shaping up to a pretty stellar week! You might also notice a theme at this year's tournament, but to find out what it is - you'll just have to join us!

Some aspects that won't change - the chance to win quality prizes and the fun times this day always brings! Mark it in your calendar - May 25th!! Oh and if you sign up by May 4th, you'll be entered in a draw for a future round of golf & carts for you and 3 pals at The Harvest! For more details visit: http://www.kelownachamber.org/events/31st-Annual-Kelowna-Chamber-Golf-Tournament-presented-by-Costco-Wholesale--1637/details

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The Business Case for Affordable Housing

by Admin 13. April 2016 11:01

On March 8, the Kelowna Chamber partnered with the Urban Development Institute in Kelowna to host a discussion on ending homelessness and supporting affordable housing. The Chamber sees its role as working with experts in housing and social services to support an end to homelessness.

There are business reasons for being interested in affordable housing. At our discussion in March, data from 2011 was presented by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association that summarized the rental market, the cost of housing, and home ownership. These costs are more than most people can afford. Additionally, current housing stock is aging, and new builds aren’t keeping pace with the demographic trends.

Housing accounts for 23 per cent of BC GDP. If we grow housing, we grow the economy. We recognize that rental housing is critical: it is certainly central for labour mobility and immigration. The magic figure of 30 per cent of income is what people should be spending out of their income, on their housing needs. More than this straps households, and the necessities of food, clothing and transportation fall by the wayside.

The reality of the labour market is that some people make lower wages than others, yet are critical to our labour pool. These workers and community residents need affordable housing, and need it in order to work, to continue to contribute to the economy, and to avoid the risk of becoming homeless.

New housing must be addressed by developers and by municipal governments, among others. Pathways include unlocking land – with a look at federal, provincial and municipal policies, and removing barriers to change; design and innovation in mixed use or modular construction; operations and maintenance to keep running costs affordable; and finally financing needs to be barrier-free.

These requirements and needs intersect with the business plans and practices of many of our members. We want these members all to be aware and working on solutions that will enhance their own success.

Homelessness costs the Canadian economy $8 billion annually.

Is homelessness solvable? Yes. For instance, during the 2003 fires in Kelowna, a system was mobilized that incorporated strong local leadership, emergency response, multiple system coordination, and housing that was focused on community mobilization.

The same type of plan could be designed to end homelessness, and help deal with the overall problem. At the same time, creating such a plan will assist municipal and provincial planners to assist in ensuring that the people working in the Kelowna job market are able to better manage their income, and their housing finance outlays, especially at critical points in their work lives.

There is another side to homelessness that has implications for business: the expenditure of tax dollars to band-aid solve a chronic problem. The cost of social services, of mental health interventions, in some cases prison, of emergency rooms, hospital stays, and other physical and mental rehabilitation programs – not to mention short-term housing care – definitely adds up. These are social tax dollars that our businesses pay out as part of doing business in Kelowna.

By shifting our focus to prevention and solutions, we build a better community, re-direct tax dollars to more effective programs that have true long-term resonance in the community, and overall, improve the business and residential environment.

This shift in focus from crisis to solution can only build a stronger work setting. Numerous ongoing initiatives are already in place, and with a concerted effort at coordination, these initiatives will continue the good work already underway in Kelowna to address the problem.

Councillor Luke Stack says that with funding secured by previous Mayors and Councils, four social housing projects — the Cardington Apartments on St. Paul Street downtown, Willowbridge, operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association, the NOW apartment building in South Pandosy and Rutland's Newgate Apartments run by the John Howard Society — all became part of the City’s social housing fabric.

Provincially, former Premier Gordon Campbell called for mayors to address the ongoing problem of homeless, and “get serious”. Kelowna’s Mayors Gray, Shepherd and Basran all have played their parts in doing this. There is also a Kelowna Housing Opportunities Fund that encourages new affordable housing. This program should be ongoing, and function hand in hand with developers. In closing, affordable housing can help Kelowna remain a hub for all types of businesses, both well-established and start-up; can help workers in the service industry find stability on lower incomes; and can overall help businesspeople manage their staffs, their HR needs, and their community contributions toward fixing this systemic need.

-KCC 

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Help future generations trace your Family Tree

by Admin 6. April 2016 10:39

Anyone who has ever tried tracing their family tree knows what a thrill it is to find the names of their ancestors on official documents. It can be like finding a needle in a haystack or striking gold.

One of the best sources of official information is the census. Censuses have been used for centuries to record information about mothers, fathers, children, and peoples’ ways of life, income and occupations. To see the name, address and profession of an ancestor who lived a hundred years ago or more can be quite exhilarating.

The first census in Canada was conducted by Jean Talon, a civil administrator, in 1666. The census counted all 3,215 inhabitants of European descent and logged their age, sex, marital status and occupation. Talon conducted the census to gather information that would help plan and develop the colony.

In fact, Talon was so committed to the process that he collected much of the information personally, visiting settlers throughout the colony. The rest, as they say, is history, Canadian history. The census has evolved over time into the modern census we have now that takes place every five years. This year marks the 350 year anniversary of the first census.

To make it easier for your descendants to trace their family tree 100 years from now (census records are kept sealed for 92 years), jot down May 2 in your calendar this year. You will be receiving a package in the mail inviting you to complete the census online or on paper.

The 2016 Census is mandatory for all Canadians. Three in four households will receive a short-form census, while one out of four will receive the long-form census. The only difference between the two is more detailed questions in the long-form, about things like citizenship and immigration status, birthplace of parents, education, income, housing, child care and other support payments and employment history.

-KCC 

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Selected Site for new Kelowna Visitor Centre something to be proud of

by Admin 30. March 2016 07:38
Kelowna with its sprawling landscapes, impressive infrastructure, outdoor art displays and public parks, is an attractive place to be.  As residents, we know this and may take it for granted, but for first time visitors who aren't aware of everything our vibrant and diverse city has to offer, our Visitor Centre is often the place they go for guidance.  
 
The location of the current centre is no longer appropriate, with new statistics indicating that tourists seek information online and in peak foot traffic areas. Having shared the building at the current location with Tourism Kelowna since the mid-1980s, we have seen the decline of visits to the centre.
 
The new site and facility that Tourism Kelowna has selected in partnership with the City of Kelowna is sure to enhance our local economy in many ways. The location and accessibility is on-par with the current trends and much more suited to today's tourist. It will effectively speak to Kelowna's offerings as it will be situated in the "heart of it all". Marketing dollars and efforts will reach further, as staff will not have to refer to a brochure or map when describing the waterfront, beaches and marina. More personal contact with the visitor centre staff and volunteers will entice tourists to stay longer, to visit more attractions, and to spend more at our local businesses.
 
The new 5,000 square foot building will provide Tourism Kelowna with much-needed counter space to provide service to visitors and platform to feature Kelowna's attractions to a greater number of tourists. There will be more room for increased foot traffic as tourists check out interactive displays, shop local goods, and help themselves to brochures and marketing materials.
 
On behalf of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, we congratulate and support the new Visitor Centre Site. We believe this has been a long time coming and is a necessary step to set the stage for a heightened profile and level of success for the vibrant future of tourism in Kelowna. Let's give Kelowna a Visitor Centre to be proud of.
 
-KCC 

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Investing in Kelowna: What makes it work

by Admin 18. March 2016 08:24

Here at the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, we hosted four Chamber luncheons in four weeks between January 28 and February 18. What a range of ideas and speakers we heard!

From the President of UBC, Martha Piper on the university’s tenth anniversary in the Okanagan, to the CEO of Eagle Spirit Energy talking about their social license for BC/Alberta pipelines; to the Mayor’s Annual State of the City message, to wrapping up with Premier Christy Clark speaking to the 2016 provincial budget. Our members and guests are richer for these interactions with informative, interesting, and decisive speakers.

As a Chamber, we’ve been working in parallel on a number of fronts, not all immediately apparent to the general public. Advocating for support in the fight against invasive mussel species in our lakes. We are proud to be helping lead this fight. A change in the punitive tax proposed for credit unions.

We hosted a high-level panel discussion at the end of February to explore the needs, the changes, and the advocacy for amended legislation. Homelessness: we’re hosting a Think Tank on this issue to search for timely methods of seeking affordable housing in early March, in partnership with the Urban Development Institute. And, of course, discussing the political hot potato that is water quality in Kelowna, home of five water districts, and a myriad of opinions of how to address the needs.

Since our Chamber is the face of Kelowna, I thought it might be timely to look back at the Mayor’s mid-February address, and highlight current thinking from our City on some of these issues.

This was Mayor Colin Basran’s second “State of the City” address to our Chamber, and he has kindly agreed to our excerpting his comments for this month’s column. I admire his stress on attracting investment, always the holy grail of a civic government.

His key point was speaking to the investments being made in our community. “What,” he asked, “is the City doing with our investments to make Kelowna a place where other people want to invest?”

“Investing in a healthy community makes economic sense. We’re more attractive to tourists, we’re more attractive to talented workers, we save on healthcare costs, it delays or defrays expenses on transportation upgrades, and it encourages new business development.”

A key priority for Basran is water quality.

Basran rightly points out, “There’s a strong connection between health and economics, and Council’s efforts to move toward an integrated water supply network. Our water system really represents what I am talking about today – public safety, effective financial management, being strategic to ensure efficiency and investing in the infrastructure that improves our quality of life.”

Water is a priority discussion point within our Chamber, as well. The Kelowna City Council has made a commitment to a process that ultimately can change the pattern of water delivery to our residents. This process isn’t immediate, but importantly, Council has plotted out the first steps toward integration of services, and quality improvement. We support being a part of this process which is being conducted with thought, planning, and no rush to judgement or immediate change.

The media that same week reported that the Mayor also noted Kelowna was the next-to-worst to find a job, fastest-growing, and (surprise!) almost the sexiest city in Canada.

Skipping over the city’s “sexy” rating from retailer Pink Cherry (#5 behind a collection including Sudbury), the BMO labour market report was sobering, putting Kelowna at 32 out of 33 for getting a job. Basran pointed out it was a 30-day snapshot, and at odds with the Stats Can report showing Kelowna to be fastest growing between July 2013 and 2014.

Of course, the major number of cranes hoisted up over the city recently don’t hurt our business profile: Okanagan Centre for Innovation, Interior Health, some new waterfront construction at the north end, and fingers crossed, by next year, a new convention hotel on the water at the foot of Bernard. And don’t forget the new police headquarters.

Strong words from a strong Mayor and a supportive, yet individualistic-minded Council who have the best interests of their constituents front and center. I am fortunate to head a Chamber of Commerce based in such a strong bastion for forward-thinking, planning, and investment, and not fearful of change and improvement. 

 

-KCC 

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Your Business Plan: Heightened & Enlightened

by Admin 11. March 2016 12:35

Maybe you review your business plan annually. Maybe it's a document you created during infancy and haven't taken a look at it since. Or perhaps your association is mandated to have a strategic plan. Whatever the case, your plan SHOULD take into consideration at which stage your business is in, and what the next stage will look like. Almost all organizations have a predictable sequence of developmental stages, rather a "life cycle".

While some might believe that comparing a business model to a living organism is a bit far fetched, a closer examination of this metaphor would prove that it's a very viable theory. Each has a regular pattern of development: birth (start-up), growth, maturity, decline, and death. Depending on the type of organization (corporate, not for profit, etc.) the stages can vary slightly.

Once the company has accepted this model, their chances of success are that much greater. Those that are oblivious, might for example, stop pursuing funding once experiencing expansion, and not be able to or know how to act on new opportunities when they arise. Additionally, if mature companies fail to implement steps to renew their growth, such as acquiring other companies or products, the model suggests that they will inevitably face the decline stage.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has partnered with TEC Canada to bring International Speaker, Ian MacDougall to Kelowna to speak more on this topic. To learn more about the Organizational Life Cycle and how to transition from one stage to the next without jeopardizing success, register for our next installment of our Leader Skills Series, taking place this Wednesday, March 16th.

-KCC

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It's never too late to date

by Admin 29. February 2016 11:41

What is it like to be in your later years of life and yet still long for romantic love, companionship and affection? Film maker Steven Loring of Brooklyn, N.Y., made it his personal journey to find out. When his father passed away, his elderly mother was left a widow. That same year, a 78-year-old uncle, who had never dated, fell in love for the first time.

What started out as curiosity turned into a speed dating event held for 70- to 90-year-olds in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. He got permission to film the event and followed 10 of the participants who shared their stories and feelings. The result became a documentary, The Age of Love; a poignant look at the ultimate desires of older adults.

All the way accross the continent, UBC Okanagan Associate Professor, Mary Ann Murphy, caught wind of the project via radio airwaves. With the help of a UBC librarian, she contacted Loring and discovered the film had not yet been released.

“What first attracted me to the film was that the subject dealt with an aspect of love and romance popularly considered the exclusive domain of younger persons,” says Murphy. “The average internet dater is only 33, and my initial instinct was that Loring had broken new territory in examining speed dating for seniors ages 70-90.”

“Ageist attitudes, powerful social norms, and our own stereotypes limit common thinking about love and romance to generally include the young and middle-aged. I knew Loring’s film addressed an unchartered aspect of ageism that was both innovative and novel,” adds Murphy.

After Murphy watched a screening of the film, she was more convinced of its importance as a social statement.

In partnership with Loring, Murphy developed a research proposal - the only formal, ethics board-approved work undertaken on this film - and organized bringing the documentary and the director to various Okanagan venues during the week of March 7-13, 2016. 

Murphy's research welcomes audiences to express their valued opinions about age, aging, ageism and love and romance for people of all ages.

Following the 78-minute documentary, the mixed-aged audience will be invited to voluntarily join smaller focus groups to discuss the film.

Interior Savings Credit Union is the presenting sponsor. Screenings will launch on Monday, March 7 at the Kelowna Art Gallery, hosted by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce in honor of International Women’s Day. Find out more about this special screening.

 

-KCC 

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Spending Our Way to Economic Strength

by Admin 22. February 2016 08:15

As 2016 unfolds, the Federal Liberal platform plank supporting infrastructure spending is front and center in local and national discussions. At a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon January 8, we hosted our two MPs (Liberal Stephen Fuhr and Conservative Dan Albas) alongside our local MLAs as they addressed our group.

Mr Fuhr’s comments synopsized much of the forward planning going on in Ottawa. Certainly infrastructure spending is extremely high profile, and if pundits are correct, much needed.

At present, the federal plan for infrastructure growth is centered in three areas: Public Transportation; Social Infrastructure, especially affordable housing, early learning, and cultural infrastructure; and Green Infrastructure – water, climate and energy.

With energy income dropping precipitously – currently oil is at a 12-year low, and mining ore prices continue to fall – it is possible that stimulus programs could, at this particular tipping point, prevent a worse downturn. The good news is that the Liberal majority is planning immediate spending of $5 billion a year for the next two fiscal years, a 100 per cent increase over previous levels.

Importantly, the federal debt to GDP ratio was highlighted by Mr. Fuhr when he addressed 180 of our members at the January 8 luncheon. A balanced budget is touted for 2019, only three years away, with the 31 per cent “Debt to GDP’ in 2015 dropping to 27 per cent in 2019. This is the short-term deficit of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years we see in the government’s charts.

These investments in infrastructure spending are expensive – but, one positive effect is that they reduce manufacturing production costs. One predicted drop in those costs is 5 per cent a year – it depends on the return on investment – it would be stellar to achieve the 25 per cent ROI that one study predicts as possible.

Employment, of course, drops when commodity prices drop. One way to get employment figures back up is to inject the infrastructure spend into areas of seriously depleted employment numbers: Fort McMurray, or Calgary, say, at the expense of less-impacted centers.

Jobs are one side of the equation; boosting trade back up is the flip side that will also improve if the new spending is properly allocated.

Let’s not see spending in certain spots – let’s not further inflate the housing market in Vancouver, for instance. Let us instead, look for a return to healthy employment and investment in the energy sector, and cut some of the infinite red tape that stands in the way of comprehensive energy sector growth.

We have a window of opportunity, it seems, just now with a new government, and a will in the general population to allow some economic experimentation on spending to optimize growth over the next 24 months. Two years from now we could be looking at an improved landscape in terms of economy; of job growth, of societal stabilization, and progress on multiple fronts as sensible infrastructure spending takes hold.

-KCC 

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Chamber week: BC Budget, Board Election & ...Budgies?

by Admin 17. February 2016 12:06

This Chamber Week has been full of events, including the Board of Directors Election commencing yesterday as well as the tabling of the provincial budget on Wednesday. The 2016 budget combines on-going fiscal discipline, including a continued focus on repaying operating debt and a number of forward-looking initiatives strongly advocated for by the BC Chamber network, such as the creation of a Tax Competitiveness Commission and the BC Prosperity Fund, to support future economic growth.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for reductions or elimination of the Property Transfer Tax since 2009, so we were pleased to see a step toward this with the PPT exemption on new builds under $750,000. It is unclear if the budget for the Ministry of Environment will allow them to man inspection stations at all B.C. access points to keep invasive mussel species out of our waters, which is an ongoing concern that the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce will continue to lobby for.

Today we'll have the opportunity at our luncheon to ask the Premier why this budget ignored the shift in legislation needed to protect credit unions from the small -business tax exemption, due to be phased out this year.

Following this formal event  at 5pm, we will be gathering for Business with Bevvies at the newly renovated Kelowna BCSPCA. They have many different pets available for adoption, and this will be a chance to meet some furry and feathered friends, as well as some new business connections!

Hope to see you there!

-KCC 

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State of the City 2016

by Admin 11. February 2016 12:31

Among de-bunking recent lists "ranking" Kelowna, Mayor Colin Basran reaffirmed Council’s commitment to working toward an integrated water system for the whole city during today's address to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

The large crowd of business and community leaders attended the Chamber event at the Coast Capri ballroom. “We’re confident our investments in building a great city are paying off in a number of ways – including the ability to generate employment opportunities,” said Mayor Basran, who highlighted a number of strengths in the local economy.

The mayor said 2016 will be a year of completing some of the major projects currently underway and focusing on ensuring the city’s core services are maintained. “We are looking at what’s in the best long-term interests of our community. For the most part in the years ahead, we need to pay attention to our existing roads, buildings, bridges, utilities and parks.”

A large part of the presentation to the Chamber crowd focused on the city’s unique situation of having multiple irrigation districts supplying water to residents in different parts of Kelowna. “This Council has identified water improvement as our No. 1 priority – and it was also residents’ top priority for investment in our 2015 Citizens Survey,” said Mayor Basran. By looking at the system holistically, the mayor suggested investments could be prioritized in a way that makes the most sense for the entire system to avoid duplication. “Kelowna’s strength is we have multiple water sources; our weakness is that they’re not integrated.

“This is also about water security. As our city grows, as the effects of climate change impact our water sources, real integration will make it possible to move large volumes of high-quality water anywhere in the city to address water quality, supply and treatment in a cost-effective way.”

In addition to working toward integrating the water systems, Mayor Basran also highlighted some capital projects that will get underway in 2016, including new playing fields and playground for Centennial Park, extending the City’s fibre optic network toward the airport and UBCO and Phase 2 of the Ethel Street multi-use corridor. “Our Council will continue to work today to meet our responsibilities for tomorrow… No matter how difficult or long-term those initiatives might be.”

Find out more about the City of Kelowna progress on plans at kelowna.ca/cityhall.

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