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Nov 8, 2017

Kelowna Chamber speaks out to the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance

November 8, 2017
Kelowna Chamber speaks out to the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance
Kelowna: The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce welcomed the opportunity to comment on six issues to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services during their province-wide engagement process which ended October 16.
These provincial issues, deemed to be among the most important to Chamber members at present, may be found online at https://www.kelownachamber.org/advocacy/keyissues/.
The Committee is empowered to consider and to make recommendations on the annual reports, rolling three-year service plans and budgets of BC's eight statutory offices.
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services is one of nine permanent all-party committees of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
The six issues we highlighted for the Committee included:   
1.       Balanced Budget/Prudent Fiscal Planning/Triple A Credit Rating
Our Chamber, and our business members, strongly endorse fiscal prudence; particularly in order that the province can maintain its Triple A credit rating so that we can pay down debt, rather than service it as do other provinces; and to steer a middle path between spending on vital social services, and retaining financial stability for the future.
2.       Continued attention to, and spending on the invasive species program
The Kelowna Chamber won endorsement at the BC Chamber and the Canadian Chamber Policy Forums, calling for increased spending and focus on preventing zebra and quagga mussels from infesting bodies of fresh water in BC.  We call on the provincial government to ensure all border stations have trained personnel to intercept infested boats and water-based equipment on a 24-7 basis, and to expand the monitoring for invasive mussel species, as well as increasing highway signage alerting the public.
3.       Attention to, and resources to help small businesses understand how to prepare for natural disasters such as floods and fires
We want to see an effective disaster relief program in place before the next round of natural disaster/s strikes our province. Equally important are resources to assist business continuity, including pre-disaster education and preparation, and recovery funding and resources after the fact.
4.       Appropriate funding for much needed transportation initiatives to serve one of the fastest growing regions in the province
We want to ensure that the province puts appropriate emphasis on a growing city such as Kelowna, not just metro Vancouver; and that it work collegially with municipal interests, to spend wisely and well on transportation that will best serve our businesses, residents and visitors in the short, mid- and long term. This includes investment in highways and roadways that adequately address
 needs related to the movement of goods in and around the city while also continually enhancing alternative transportation options for people through investment in public transit.
5.       Balance desired plans to strengthen residential tenancy act with need to create competitive environment that encourages private sector investment in rental accommodation
The desire to strengthen the act should be tempered with the realization that an unintended consequence of such action could be the creation of an environment that discourages developers from considering an investment in market driven rental housing. We ask that a sensible plan be tabled in advance of any irretrievable policies which could damage our numerous Chamber members involved at all stages of the construction industry: developers, builders, realtors, mortgage brokers, other finance interests, as well as manufacturers, lumber yards, appliance and furniture retailers.  This is a delicate food chain that needs to be fed to thrive.
6.       Continuation of tax credits and labour market development programming to continue the growth of the local technology sector (digital media, gaming and programming) in Kelowna.
The provincial government has a responsibility to continue the tax credits that help emerging digital-based companies set up, grow, thrive, hire, expand, and enjoy economic stability in a highly competitive, ever-changing business and creative environment, where only the fastest managers, and the very best companies survive.  More pressure needs to be placed on Ottawa for an increased number of spots to fall to the Provinces, and particularly British Columbia, which, a recent National Audit pointed out, was the best run PNP program in Canada.
We look forward to the Committee's report, due out in a few months, well in advance of Budget 2018.
For more information:
Dan Rogers, Executive Director
Kelowna Chamber
Jeffrey Robinson, Vice-President; Chair Policy Committee
Kelowna Chamber