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Sep 16, 2019

Chamber gets national support on issues important to Kelowna and the Okanagan

Kelowna:  The need for federal investments to foster the development of the aerospace industry in the Okanagan and providing tax incentives to encourage purpose built rental housing – those were among the numerous polices the Kelowna Chamber got support for at the Canadian Chamber AGM held in Saint John, NB, September 21-23. Adopted policies will now be a priority for the Canadian Chamber and will be front and centre when Canadian Chamber staff meet with federal ministers following the upcoming election.

“It’s an impressive, intense process and we are thrilled our policies were supported by the delegates from across the country,” says Nikki Csek, President of the Kelowna Chamber. “We achieved positive outcomes for our members who played a critical role in developing these policies over the past year.”

At the AGM were around 350 delegates from Chambers of Commerce across the country. After the federal election concludes, the Kelowna Chamber will be meeting with each elected official to share the Chamber national policies and priorities.

The federal policies join a robust list of provincially adopted policies authored by the Kelowna Chamber including speculation tax; support for local agriculture initiatives; protection of our lakes from invasive species, and expansion of the digital economy.

Other policies adopted at the Canadian Chamber AGM ranged from a call for increased gender diversity on the boards of major non-venture corporations to greater efforts by the federal government to bring an end to the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the United States.

The convention also included numerous presentations and discussions on issues important to the business community. Those presenting included Alberta Premier Jason Kenny who called for greater effort by the provinces to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers. This is something the Kelowna Chamber has strongly advocated for and was a policy the Kelowna Chamber got support for last year at the Canadian Chamber AGM. President Nikki Csek attended along with Kelowna Chamber Executive Director Dan Rogers and Policy Analyst Caroline Miller.

BACKGROUND

More on specific policies supported by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

Fostering Aerospace Innovation Clusters in Canada - Calls on the Federal Government to build on existing aerospace activities in Canadian cities, such as Kelowna, which has the 10th busiest airport in the country; KF Aerospace, UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College, all already involved in aerospace initiatives. This would expand critically needed pilot training, aircraft maintenance and related high-tech support industries to improve Canada’s competitiveness and economy.

Getting more Rental Housing on the Market Now - A tightly-written policy recommending immediate changes to the capital cost allowance in the Income Tax Act, and to the GST in order to increase the supply of rental housing, thereby helping address the critical housing shortage and affordability issues in the Okanagan valley.

Support of a Federal Excise Tax Review for Alcohol and Eliminate the Automatic Escalator - Calls for a level playing field on excise taxes on distilleries’ products and wineries, cideries and craft breweries – currently working under an unfair conglomeration of taxes on similar artisanal agriculture-based products.

Accelerating Transportation Infrastructure - Looks at creating ways to improve border crossing efficiencies from the Highway 97 corridor across the border and connecting to the industry-centric I-5 in the US.

Share a Handshake - Prods the federal government to complete the numerous recommendations of “Beyond Preclearance” – speeding up transit of people and goods by air, rail and water between Canada and the United States. The Canadian Chamber is part of a 41-organization international coalition calling for change.