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The Chamber is the voice of business for the Kelowna region, responding to many of the current issues that impact on business vitality. That role includes proactively working with and lobbying government to constructively influence public policy on a variety of issues in support of a healthy free-enterprise system. Part of this is an active media. We work closely with local reporters to educate, rally and communicate with the general public on a wide variety of issues that affect our membership and community.

Healthy and vibrant businesses are part of the fabric of any great community. In regular meetings with MLAs, MPs and Ministers, the Chamber has strived to work with and lobby government to provide a strong and constructive influence on public policy on a variety of issues. These issues support our members and a vibrant, sustainable business environment.

Policy Resolutions Supported by Government

When policy statements have been successfully implemented by government, or a significant portion of the recommendation has been successfully implemented, the policy is deemed to have been achieved. It can take many years for policies to be adopted by government.

These policies, which originated at the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce as provincial or national policy initiatives, are being or have been implemented.

2012 Improving Consumer Choice: Removing Inter-Provincial Trade Barriers to Sales of 100% Canadian Wine (Initiated by the Kelowna Chamber in 2008). Resulted in the passing of Bill C-311 'Free the Grapes'

2012 Organized Crime Task Force Funding (Initiated by the Kelowna Chamber in 2008).

As a member of the BC Chamber of Commerce, the Kelowna Chamber supports each BC Chamber policy. View the current BC Chamber Policy Manual for policy details.
 We are also proud and active members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and annually participate in the development of national policies Canadian Policy Manual

For more details, read more in the Provincial and Federal Policy Committee sections below.

See our media releases for updates on the Kelowna Chambers' latest advocacy efforts.

Local Issues Committee

Local Issues Committee Mandate 

As a standing committee of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, this group will provide leadership in identifying and taking action on issues relating to municipal affairs in Kelowna. These issues must be of specific interest to the members of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, and of concern to the business community at large.

Chaired by a member of the Chamber Board of Directors, this group will work with Chamber staff to provide proactive leadership in the role of increasing awareness for members and providing advocacy on municipal affairs issues that impact the long-term health and vitality of the economy of Kelowna.

For more information about the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s Local Issues Committee and how to get involved please contact the Chamber or committee chair Carmen Sparg.

Member Care Committee

Member Care Committee Mandate

As a committee of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, this group will serve in an advisory capacity to Chamber staff on activities and programs relating to the enhancement of the value of Chamber membership.

Chaired by a member of the Board of Directors, this group will provide leadership through guidance and feedback to enhance the value of Chamber membership. Great oppotunity to volunteer and share your marketing ideas and communication skills.  

For more information about the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s Member Care Committee and how to get involved please contact the Chamber.

Ambassadors Committee

Ambassadors Committee Mandate

As a committee of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, this group will serve a one year term in a front line role by welcoming members to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

Chaired by a member of the Kelowna Chamber, this group will meet new members of the Chamber to enhance the connectivity of Chamber members, enhance the value of Chamber membership, and strive to have Chamber members more engaged in the Chamber and contribute their ideas in a regular report to the Member Care Committee.

For more information about the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassadors Committee and how to get involved please contact the Chamber or committee chair Bruce Murray.

Governance Committee

The responsibilities of this committee include: monitoring the financial statements; drafting and reviewing internal policies; ensuring internal policies reflect the Policy Governance Model; bringing forward policies to be monitored in a timely manner; conducting board self-evaluations; monitoring the ED’s compliance of policies; conducting the ED’s annual performance review and recommending any ED salary changes and/or premiums to the board.

For more information about the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s Governance Committee and how to get involved please contact the Chamber or committee chair Curtis Darmohray.

Young People in Business Committee

This committee strives to identify and take action on the key issues that relate to young people who are either fully engaged in business or just beginning to embark on their careers. These young people range from business owners and employees to undergraduates and recent grads. Moreover, this committee also seeks to foster the development of a forum for young people to meet, network and exchange ideas within the Central Okanagan community.

These objectives are pursued by working with local business owners, educational and training organizations, young employees and recent graduates to develop a well-rounded picture of the opportunities and obstacles for young people in business. This knowledge is used to formulate action plans to help young people be successful in the Central Okanagan community.

For more information about the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s Young People in Business Committee and how to get involved please contact the Chamber or committee chair Ben Pidskalny.

Women's Leadership Network


The Women’s Leadership Network of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce supports and strengthens the community of women leaders in the Central Okanagan. This pre-eminent group of women combines their resources to support and further the advancement of women in leadership in the community.

The Women's Leadership Network provides a forum for Executive women in the Central Okanagan business community to meet, network, and exchange ideas. It offers social opportunities and connections for C-suite executives to share, learn and extend peer mentoring in a trusted environment, working as Senior Executives to support Women.

  • To provide a forum for Executive women in the Central Okanagan business community to meet, network and exchange ideas;
  • To offer social opportunities and connections for C-suite Executives to share, learn and extend peer mentoring in a trusted environment
  • To work as Senior Executives to support women
  • To offer mentorship or recognition for younger women leaders in the Central Okanagan business community;
  • To encourage and educate women on the value of being on boards and in politics, especially in leadership roles
  • To identify issues facing women in business and bring forth to relevant governing bodies or organizations
  • To assist in the recruitment of senior staff
  • To influence and provide feedback to government, boards, relevant groups when requested
  • To assist with the growth of the Central Okanagan business community, welcoming and supportive to newcomers
  • To offer additional membership value to senior and junior staff of existing Kelowna Chamber of Commerce members

For more information click here

Provincial & Federal Policy Committee

Committee Chair: Tom Dyas

Federal Policy adopted at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at their AGM September 29, 2014:

Protecting western Canada’s fresh waters from zebra and quagga mussels

Issue Statement

The rapid spread of invasive zebra and quagga mussels through fresh waters east of Saskatchewan has had devastating impacts on hydroelectric power, marine shipping, fishing and tourism industries. These species have recently spread through waterways in the southwest United States, and now pose an imminent threat to fresh waters in Canada’s western provinces. The federal government must take decisive action now to avoid irreversible damage to our marine and tourism industries.


Fortunately, the advance of these species has not reached the lakes and waterways of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. But the danger to these waters and the economies they support could not be clearer.  

Canada lags far behind the United States in addressing this issue. To give one example, the Canadian Border Services Agency lacks the legal authority to detain watercraft entering Canada so they can be searched for zebra and quagga mussel contamination. In contrast, the United States has empowered its border agents to detain watercraft pending inspection for invasive mollusks .

If swift action is not taken to neutralize the threat of incoming mussels, the cost of zebra and quagga mussels infesting western Canadian waters is likely to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.

Virtually every industry that interfaces with freshwater will be affected, including the pacific salmon fishery, hydroelectric power generation, tourism, and marine shipping. The federal government must act immediately to stop zebra and quagga mussels from causing severe damage to the Canadian economy.


That the federal government takes steps to:

  1. Enact legislation that empowers the Canada Border Services Agency to detain, inspect and refuse admission to Canada to any vehicle contaminated with zebra or quagga mussels.

  2. Facilitate cooperation among the states and provinces whose waters are not already contaminated by zebra and quagga mussels.

  3. Support the establishment of a non-contamination perimeter about the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER).

  4. Provide appropriate support to provinces engaged in combatting zebra and quagga mussels in their waters.

Provincial Policies        

  1. Competitive Tax Environment for Credit Unions 
  2. Rent Control: Phasing out Provincial Control of Rent Increase
  3. Moving Forward on the Solid Business Case for National Park South Okanagan-Similkameen (2014)
  4. Changes to the Property Transfer Tax

1. Competitive Tax Environment for Credit Unions

Last spring the federal government announced it would eliminate the extended small-business tax benefit for credit unions over the next five years. British Columbia provided a similar tax rate for credit unions because they were eligible for the federal reduction. Phasing out the federal reduction meant that the lower B.C. tax rate would also be removed unless legislative changes were made to protect it.

In its 2014 budget, the B.C. government decided to retain the small-business tax benefit for the province’s 43 credit unions until 2016. That was a step in the right direction.

Like banks, credit unions are required to build ever-increasing capital to ensure soundness. But unlike banks, credit unions are member-owned co-operatives and cannot access capital markets. Instead they must rely on retained earnings for capital, while banks are able to issue stock on capital markets. Increasing taxes on credit unions impedes the ability of credit unions to grow their retained earnings and capital.

Credit unions play an important role in B.C. communities by providing financial services to businesses and individuals and by supporting local projects.

We wish to ensure that B.C. families and businesses throughout our rural and urban communities can continue to benefit from the competitive financial services offered by our local credit unions. The people and organizations of the community that use the credit union help set its governance, its owners are its customers.  Credit unions are currently the only financial institution in more than 40 communities in B.C. (Source: Central 1 research)

Increased taxes after 2016 will hurt the ability of credit unions to support local economic growth and their ability to support the province’s business sector. When credit unions pay higher income taxes, their ability to lend to small businesses, provide service to underserved communities and support local community economic development is reduced.

A 2013 report by Canadian Federation of Independent Business concluded: “CFIB’s assessment of the banking industry reveals that credit unions outperformed all the banks in serving the small- and mid-sized enterprise market in 2012.”

The 2012 survey results mirrored CFIB’s report in 2009, which also showed credit unions were the preferred lenders and services providers for small businesses across the country. Credit unions ranked high in providing financing, the level of their fees and the quality of their account managers.

By standing alongside credit unions, the Chamber believes it is standing with small businesses in B.C. by ensuring B.C.’s business markets has access to the necessary financing and banking services that credit unions provide. The geographic reach of credit unions in northern and rural communities is notable.

Finance Minister de Jong promised to adjust current legislation to shelter credit unions from the full impact of the negative federal income tax change for another three years.

We commend the provincial government for listening to the concerns raised by credit unions and thousands of their members about the impact a tax hike would have on credit union operations.

  • The decision not to follow the lead of the federal government is good news for credit unions, their members and the communities they serve. It is a three-year reprieve.

  • If the small-business tax benefit is removed permanently, Central 1 Credit Union estimates credit unions will face an annual tax increase of $20 million.

The 2014 B.C. budget maintains a provincial tax rate for credit unions of 2.5 per cent until 2016, at which time the province will phase out the small-business tax exemption for credit unions over a five-year period.

The federal government is currently phasing out its tax benefit and if the province had not extended the exemption it would have increased the income tax paid by B.C. credit unions by $2.8 million in 2013, $9.5 million in 2014 and $14.2 million in 2015, Central 1’s economics department estimates.

We recommend that the small-business tax exemption be retained indefinitely. This will not be a cost to government because it is currently an unrealized source of tax revenue. In fact, had the federal government not triggered this chain of events, the province would not have had cause to rescind the small-business tax from credit unions. We suggest that the cost to the province if this exemption ends may be to business and communities who directly benefit from the more than $17.6 million that B.C. credit unions provide annually to a wide range of community and economic projects.  (Source: Creditunionsarehelpinghere.com)

Further, we believe retaining the small-business tax benefit indefinitely is a positive for elected and bureaucratic levels of government who can utilize credit unions as geographically dispersed, community-based sources of economic development stimulus.

By permanently extending the small-business tax credit for credit unions, the government will demonstrate and recognize that credit unions are unique and historically dependent on this tax structure to the benefit of communities. Any opposition to this tax structure could be overlooking the sensitive inter-relationships of member-owned financial institutions that see profits directed to the community for re-distribution.


That the provincial government:
  1. Extend the small business tax benefit permanently.
  2. Continue to work with credit unions to meet their needs with regulations and tax regimes that keep them strong and viable.

2. Rent Control: Phasing out Provincial Control of Rent Increases

Rent control has been – and continues to be – a widely debated topic. Economists and business groups generally take a position against rent controls, while socially-minded advocacy groups generally stand in support of controlling residential rents. The former groups argue that rental housing stock decreases in both quantity and quality under rent controls; the latter groups argue that lower income individuals require protection from market effects.

Rent control policy in BC has become increasingly restrictive with successive governments. In the 1980’s the Bennett government allowed unlimited rent increases, with tenants only able to challenge rent increases above 15%. In the 1990’s the Clark government continued to not limit the amount of a rent increase, but required the landlord to justify increases in response to all tenant challenges. And in 2002, the Campbell government introduced the most stringent rent controls establishing limits on rent increases. Currently, rent control policy in BC limits rent increases during continuous occupancy (to inflation +2%), with landlords only able to increase rent to prices the market will bear when a new renter enters into a new rental agreement on a vacant unit, a practice common referred to as rent decontrol (Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, 2011).

The Chamber of Commerce has more typically favoured free enterprise market economy principles, while also respecting the need for regulations with respect to fair treatment. To that end, the Chamber believes that current rent control policy does not exhibit the right balance of fairness and market efficiency. It should be acknowledged that the BC government does not limit increases for its Crown Corporation services to the public to inflation +2%, regulated utility services are not similarly limited, and manufactured (mobile) homes that are rented to tenants do not have the same stringent rent controls as built housing.

The current limits on allowable rent increases (inflation +2%) effectively creates a disincentive for the production of new rental housing stock by creating large opportunity costs (the cost of the foregone alternative) for builders/developers. The limit artificially depresses the most important determinant of long-run profitability and returns on investment – rents.

Developers have much greater opportunity to maximize returns on their investment in properties that generate revenue based on market pricing (e.g. sales of single family homes and condominiums), accordingly, tighter rent control policies are a key determinant of rental accommodation supply/demand problems (Miller, Benjamin, & North, 2014). The problem of low supply of residential rental accommodation can be a significant barrier to employment, particularly in locations that have high home ownership costs. Employers who hire for short-to-medium durations are especially constrained by a lack of suitable rental stock. The BC Chamber of Commerce has direct feedback from a number of local Chambers with very active economic development in their communities and key shortages of rental accommodation.

With low incentive to build new residential rental housing, rental stock continues to depreciate.

In BC there are approximately 2,000,000 households (Statistics Canada & CMHC) and of those approximately 563,000 are rental units (BCNPHA). The vast majority of rental units are over 40-50 years old and virtually no new purpose built rental units have been created since 1988.(Landlord BC). For example, purpose built rental housing in Vancouver (131,500 units) has original construction dates between 1961-1970 for 42% of its stock, and construction dates of 1950-1960 for another 24%. Therefore it is not surprising that the condition of the rental stock in Vancouver has less than 5% of units in good condition, 6-14% in fair condition, 15-30% in poor condition and over 30% in critical condition. (Altus Group - City of Vancouver Rental Housing Study - 2009). The problem with older rental units is that they are, in many cases, no longer adequate in terms of the electrical wiring, plumbing, ventilation, boilers, roofs, building envelopes, parking and amenities. Often the highest and best use of older rental stock is to demolish it and rebuild. (Burgess, Crawley, Sullivan and Associates - 2008).

The rental housing stock in BC is generally old and is not in good condition. It is priced below market values in many cases. And most importantly, it is in low supply with significant demand (in part) because of BC’s trend toward increasingly stringent rent control policy.

BC’s rent control policy – the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) – contains many protections for renters including (but not limited to) controls on tenancy agreements, security and damage deposits, dispute resolution, site inspections, discrimination, notification and maximum allowable rent increases. The Residential Tenancy Branch is a large government bureaucracy created to assist renters and landlords with compliance via information and rent-related services (Government of British Columbia, 2014).

Section 43 of the RTA, among other things, requires that rent increases be calculated in accordance with the regulations. Requirements for timing of rent increases and notice to tenant provisions are set out in Section 42 of the RTA. The Residential Tenancy Regulations (RTR) in Section 22 set out the basis for the determination of the rate allowed and in Section 23 sets out the grounds for allowing additional rent increases. Policy Guideline 37 outlines the details of the maximum allowable rent increase, specifically: proper written notice periods (3 months in advance of increase), frequency of increases (limited to annual increases for continuous occupants), and maximum annual increase.

The allowable increase is held to inflation +2%. The inflation rate is based on a 12 month average percent change in the all-items consumer price index (CPI) for BC. The CPI tracks prices for food (17.15%), shelter (27.05%), household (10.61%), clothing (5.06%), transportation (19.4%), health care (4.81%), recreation (12.46%) and alcohol & tobacco (3.41%). Upon analysis the portion of the CPI relevant to rental housing is about 8.6% of the CPI total. These limited items represent only 65.8% of the costs of operating a rental building. Accordingly, the CPI is a poor proxy for covering the costs of operating a building. (Burgess, Cawley, Sullivan & Associates, 2008)

The RTA does allow landlords to apply for exemptions from the rental increase limits on a case-by-case basis (Government of British Columbia, 2012). Some of these additional rent provisions are in Section 23(1)(a) of the RTR and are tied to comparison to other rents in the same area. However, the Residential Tenancy Office (RTO) requires such specific evidence, which is generally not available, that the provision is practically not very workable. As well, the legal costs of contested increases can be exorbitant.

Other provisions in Section 23(1)(b) allow for rent increase where significant repairs or renovations are done. However, the RTO requires that these have to be unforeseen repairs and renovations and nonrecurring within a specified time frame. Section 23(1)(c) permits additional rent increases if the landlord has incurred a financial loss. This requires provision of financial statements to prove the loss. This creates the problem of having to lose money before anything can be considered rather than anticipating the need. It seems patently unfair to require a landlord to prove they lost money in order to get a rent increase to cover the losses.

BC’s rent control policy is neither sensitive to localized issues of supply and demand for rental units, nor does it differentiate between affordable housing and premium accommodations. Affordable housing is frequently a concern raised with respect to the rental cost. The issue has been analyzed for average gross tenant household incomes versus average gross rents, such that the share of income that rentals amount to can be determined on average, as described below.

Analysis across 22 BC Census Agglomeration (CA) areas and 4 Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) regions, sheds light on the issues of affordable housing as they relate to rent.

Rent, as a percent of income, ranged from a low of 15.5% in Kitimat to a high of 25.8% in Kamloops for 2005/2006 data.

Household spending across Canada for 2008 showed similar percentage costs for shelter with a clear offsetting proportion for personal taxes (Urban Futures: In the Eye of the Beholder – Housing Affordability in British Columbia - 2010).

There are many existing government programs that provide necessary assistance to people in need, to ensure that lower income individuals and families have adequate accommodations. Some of these programs are: the Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement for Low Income Seniors, BC Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER), BC Provincial Housing Program, BC Senior’s Supplement, BC Regular Income Assistance, BC Hardship Assistance, BC Housing Rental Assistance Program, and a number of programs to assist people with disabilities. But rent controlled jurisdictions have a skewed distribution of rental housing, curtailing the supply and increasing the unmet needs for such housing (CATO Institute Policy Analysis 274 May 1997).

Jurisdictions without rent control have a normal distribution of affordable housing that meets the needs of the market. In fact, absence of rent control will enable supply in the market to more adequately meet demand – a movement toward more, newer housing stock. Numerous national and international studies show this to be the case in jurisdictions without rent controls.

To illustrate this point, the 2013 Kelowna Rental Market Report shows a residential rental vacancy rate below 2% for six of the last ten years, with the 2013 vacancy rate falling to 1.8%. This very low vacancy rate (i.e. the lack of rental housing supply) is attributed to the combination of a slower pace of expansion of purpose-built rental apartments in 2013 compared to previous years, and an increase in demand for rental accommodations associated with improvements in the economy (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2013).

This persistent problem led the City of Kelowna, Policy and Planning Department, to conduct a study of Kelowna’s rental accommodation marketplace and the perceptions of private-sector developers. The results of this rental developer / landlord consultation process were published in 2010. In this report, 25% of developers surveyed cited rent controls as an economic barrier to building/operating rental housing developments, and further, that rent controls on units from the Residential Tenancy Branch played a role in preventing landlords from maintaining their rental stock (McEwan, 2010).

There are many stakeholders likely be involved in consultations with the government with respect to any changes to the Residential Tenancy Act and its regulations. They include the TRAC (Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre), the PIVOT legal society, West Coast LEAF, Active Manufactured Homeowners Association, BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the Community Legal Assistance Centre and the Housing Justice Project. A joint paper from these groups is seeking 13 new control provisions, including increased levels of rent controls on tenant move out (BC Residential Tenancy System 13 Recommendations for Positive Change).

Landlord BC is the association that represents the industry. They have been challenged for some time to deal with the government initiatives such as the carbon tax on natural gas used for heating, and demand side management (DSM) programs from BC Hydro and FortisBC. Simply put, rent controls do not provide landlords the ability to raise the necessary capital to upgrade housing systems in response to these initiatives.

Landlord BC has set out the following recommended policy approach. “LandlordBC proposes the following seven solutions to balance landlords’ rights to operate in a free market, while protecting tenants’ rights to access safe and stable housing. 

    1. A flexible solution for government to phase out rent controls. 
    2. Establish an industry-led review body to protect tenants from unreasonable rent increases. 
    3. Provide quality assurance standards for tenants through the industry-run Certified Rental Building program, and holding landlords accountable for their actions. 
    4. Offer an industry-led, non-binding mediation process to tenants and landlords of LandlordBC apartments to help reduce cases that go to dispute at the Residential Tenancy Branch. 
    5. Explore funding and development of industry-led Rent Banks. 
    6. Support government’s continued funding of the RAP and SAFER programs.
    7. Support a Tenants’ Tax Credit (Finance Ministry).” 
Recently the government of Saskatchewan has eliminated its rent control legislation without deleterious effects. Saskatchewan has a model for industry led assistance, which was a quid pro quo for the change in that province. In addition, the government of Alberta and the Territorial governments are successfully operating without rent controls.

In the United States, notable jurisdictions with rent controls such as New York are considering phasing out temporary rent controls which, by law, must be renewed in the legislature every two years. In 1994 Boston, Massachusetts scrapped its rent control legislation (Cato Institute – Policy Analysis). There is a clear shift in policy direction toward rent control reversals and phasing out rent controls. Below are principles worth considering when phasing out rent controls:

1) Phasing out rent control on new purpose built rental accommodation immediately. (This rental housing already would come into service at market prices anyway and this policy change would enable new rental units to be built without the prospect of price controls)

2) Phasing out rent controls from the oldest stock toward the more recent stock in a scheduled manner and or on the poorest condition stock scheduled toward the better condition stock. (This enables the emphasis of the policy change to be placed on the need for quality upgrading of the units)

3) Phasing in of exceptions for the rent control for major capital requirements during the rent control phase out, including provisions to enable investments for reduction of GHG emissions and DSM implementation, as well as for all of the major building systems which can require periodic replacements or rebuilds. (This will further emphasize the building condition issues driving the policy change)

4) Phasing out rent control based on presentation of a building management and longer term related rent plan to the tenants for discussion. (This would underscore the landlords willingness to communicate and assist tenants in planning as a part of demonstrating the reasonableness of the rent)

5) Phasing out of all rent control eventually on a reasonable schedule with complementary establishment of more streamlined regulation of tenant rental issues, including initiatives from the industry to implement standards and provide for dispute resolution as the first point of resolution with escalating mediation before exceptions reach final resolution under the terms of the RTA. (This will show good faith toward building a less confrontational and adversarial climate between landlords and tenants over time)


That the provincial government:  

1. Develop and implement through legislation and regulations an approach to phasing out rent controls, such that tenants are treated fairly and landlords can count on receiving reasonable rental income for their property.

2. Maintain rental regulations for ensuring fair treatment of tenants and work with the industry to streamline dispute resolution mechanisms for tenants and landlords.

Work with the rental housing industry to enable and facilitate programs to manage cases of serious tenant hardship resulting from fair and reasonable rental increases.


3. Moving Forward on the Solid Business Case for National Park South Okanagan-Similkameen (2014) 


Opening Statement  

National parks represent important economic drivers, and this is particularly true for British Columbia. British Columbia has the opportunity to be the beneficiary of Canada’s next national park, which has been proposed for South Okanagan- Lower Similkameen (the “Proposed National Park”). This Proposed National Park maintains the continued support of the Government of Canada but to proceed requires support of the Government of British Columbia. As support for this National Park among stakeholders continues to grow, the provincial government should work with the federal government to ensure that the Proposed National Park serves the economic interests of British Columbians.


Canada’s national, provincial, and territorial parks represent a vital conservation of our natural heritage, are a special contributor to our sense of identity and place, and serve crucial ecological purposes. These parks, however, also play an important role in British Columbia’s economy. Indeed, national parks have been shown to be substantial and recurring sources of economic stimulus, particularly through tourism.

Beginning in 2003, a joint federal-provincial steering committee began an in-depth assessment of the feasibility of establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen. The steering committee’s report (Proposed National Park Reserve for the South Okanagan- Lower Similkameen Feasibility Assessment – Overview of Finding and Outcomes; available at

The Proposed National Park would consist of 280 square kilometres that contain Canada’s only pocket desert, are home to fifty-six federally-listed species-at-risk (11% of the listed species in Canada), serve as a major migration stop for birds, and include shrub-grasslands and ponderosa grasslands found in no other Canadian national park. Furthermore, the proposed park boundaries provide the potential for permanent continuation of U.S. wild lands south of the border for a protected area of international significance.

The benefits of the Proposed National Park for British Columbia include:  

increased employment;  

stimulus for land development, business starts and expansions; 

a boost in domestic and international tourism;  

opportunities for First Nations economic participation; and  

economic diversification.

 Published research on the Parks Canada website (Economic Impact of Canada’s National Provincial and Territorial Parks in 2009 by The Outspan Group, April 2011; available at http://www.parks-parcs.ca/english/cpc/economic.php) indicates the potential economic impact of the Proposed National Park. In particular, if the Proposed National Park met the average economic performance of British Columbia’s seven existing national parks, it would support 571 full-time equivalent jobs and would generate annually:         

$37.1 million in Gross Domestic Product;  

$25.62 million in annual labour income; and 

$49 million in visitor spending.

Importantly, there are essentially no costs to the provincial government moving forward with the Proposed National Park, since the Government of Canada alone bears the cost of establishing and maintaining national parks.

As with all changes in land use, the Proposed National Park could conceivably have adverse impacts on established economic uses of land. However, it is believed that any such impacts can be suitably mitigated with intelligent planning, and will ultimately be outweighed by the tremendous benefits this park will bring.

Since the steering committee’s report was submitted, the federal government has waited for the provincial government to follow the recommendation of the steering committee and take the next step toward bringing the economic benefits of the Proposed National Park to British Columbians.


That the Provincial Government sign an Agreement to Negotiate with the Government of Canada that will conclude a fair and equitable feasibility process to determine the economic impact of a national park in the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen.

4. Changes to the Property Transfer Tax (PPT) (2012)

The Property Transfer Tax affects affordable housing throughout the province of BC.  The cost is often repeated and imbedded in the ultimate cost passed on to consumers.  The cost is demonstrated through highest housing prices in the country per data provided by The Canadian Real Estate Association:

Canadian Provinces Average House Prices January 2012 (1)


 Average House Price

 British Columbia














 Nova Scotia


 New Brunswick


 Prince Edward Island


 Canadian Average


The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is on record that affordable housing for families is a major factor in creating attractive, livable, and competitive cities.  Although, we have seen a strong real estate market, the Chamber believes it can be stronger.  Affordable housing is important to the business community, as it is a strong selling point for attracting and retaining employees.  Business must remain competitive and the cost of housing is a major source of wage pressure.  Any additional wage costs are passed to consumers and increased consumer costs will only encourage buyers to search alternatives (cross border shopping, etc.).

The Property Transfer Tax (PTT) places an unfair burden on homebuyers because you are paying a high tax for a service with minimal cost; you are paying a high tax in a market where the housing prices are the highest.  Until elimination is possible, which many stakeholder groups including the Canadian Home Builders Association, Urban Development Institute, Canadian Real Estate Association, and the BC Real Estate Association agree is the right approach, the following recommendations are intended to ensure a fair approach to the PTT for homebuyers now and in the future.

The Chamber understands that immediate elimination is not fiscally possible.  The budget will not allow any measures that reduce tax revenues.  Therefore, any proposals to reduce taxes must have compensating measures to maintain a balanced budget.

While BCREA’s recommendation to increase the 1% PTT threshold will result in less PTT revenue for the provincial government, it would put the dream of homeownership within reach for more families throughout BC and free up others to undertake home renovations or other spending.

Based on 2010 BC Assessment data, increasing the 1% PTT threshold to $525,000 could have resulted in a decrease in Provincial Government revenues of approximately $158 million.  That figure represents less than 1% of the anticipated taxation revenue for fiscal year 2010-2011. 

How can we maintain BC as a preferred destination for investment?  Provincial tax competitiveness is a cornerstone of the current government’s policy and considerable reductions have been made in corporate and personal income tax rates.  However, the PTT stands out in a negative way.  The effectiveness of low personal income taxes to attract and retain workers is offset by the high cost of owning a home, which is intensified by the highest provincial property transfer tax in Canada.

Any reduction in the PTT will ultimately decrease the average house price in BC.  Any decrease in the housing prices will make BC relatively more attractive when comparing to other provinces.  As housing prices are a consideration to those immigrating to BC, any decrease will positively impact these buying decisions.  If BC can make its housing market more attractive, we can be more successful in attracting people to the province which will positively impact growth in the housing market and corresponding growth in the economy (ancillary purchases, income taxes, jobs associated with new housing starts).


Despite significant changes in the housing market, the structure of the PTT has not changed since the tax was introduced in 1987.  At that time the average home price was $101,916 and the 2% portion of the tax was expected to apply to only 5% of sales.  For many years, the 2% portion of the tax has applied to most homes sold in the province.

Indexing the 1% threshold is a critical step, because it will ensure that the PTT has the same impact on current and future homebuyers.  Although the PTT applies to sales of new and existing homes, the New Housing Price Index provides a reasonable proxy for all home sales in BC.

Comparison of Current and Proposed PTT Structures (2)





 1% up to $200,000
 2% on the remainder above $200,000

 1% up to $525,000 
 2% on the remainder above $525,000


 $767.3 million

 $609.3 million

Homebuyers and business throughout BC will benefit significantly from an increased 1% PTT threshold.  Based on 2010 BC Assessment data, more than 70,000 homebuyers—or about 71%—would have paid less PTT if the 1% threshold had been increased to $525,000.

Housing is a significant economic contributor as the average housing transaction in BC is estimated to generate nearly $60,000 in expenditures.  This is well above the Canadian figure and the taxes generated by each sale easily exceed every other jurisdiction.  If housing transactions increase from lower PTT rates  then there will be an increase in sales tax collected on the those expenditures.

Estimated Expenditures Generated by the Average Housing Transaction Canada and Regions, 2009 (3)








 Household Purchases







 Furniture and  appliances







 Moving costs 














 Services (4) 







 Taxes (excluding GST) 














Sales of existing homes also drive job creation, with BC leading all other provinces.  According to Altus Group Economic Consulting, the sale and purchase of MLS® homes in BC generates 34,595 direct and indirect jobs—nearly 1 in 65 jobs across the entire BC economy. This is much higher than the national average of 1 in 109 jobs.  These jobs will only increase with further new homes that may be built from a lower PTT which will increase the amount of Provincial Income taxes collected.



That the provincial government:

  1. increase the 1% PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000, with 2% applying to the remainder of the fair market value; and
  2. index the 1% PTT threshold of $525,000 using Statistics Canada’s New Housing Price, and make adjustments annually.




Other Mandates

Taxation Advisory Committee Mandate

Volunteer Opportunities

For more information about volunteering with the Kelowna Chamber please contact us.

Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on your community. But did you know that it can have many benefits for you too? Here are some reasons to volunteer:

Learn or develop a new skill
Volunteering is the perfect vehicle to discover something you are really good at and develop a new skill. It is never too late to learn new skills and no reason why you should stop adding to your knowledge or skill set just because you are in employment or have finished education.

Be part of your business community
We sometimes take for granted the community that we live in. Volunteering is ultimately about helping others and having an impact on people’s wellbeing. What better way is there to connect with your community and give a little back?

Motivation and sense of achievement
Fundamentally, volunteering is about giving your time, energy and skills freely. Unlike many things in life there is choice involved in volunteering. As a volunteer you have made a decision to help on your own accord, free from pressure to act from others. Volunteers predominantly express a sense of achievement and motivation, and this is ultimately generated from your desire and enthusiasm to help.