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Sep 30, 2019

2019 Canadian Chamber AGM Wrap Up

Three days, 324 delegates, 76 policies, 35% of total policies from BC 

On September 21-23, the Kelowna Chamber journeyed across the country to Saint John, New Brunswick, to represent policy resolutions developed with our members over the past year. President Nikki Csek was joined by Kelowna Chamber Executive Director Dan Rogers and Policy Analyst Caroline Miller. Ten hours of policy sessions later, the Kelowna policies were adopted, along with resolutions from the Vernon Chamber & the Greater Westside Board of Trade.

Other adoptions ranged from a call for increased gender diversity on boards of major non-venture corporations to creating a level playing field for distilleries. President Nikki Csek called it “an impressive, intense process; we are thrilled our policies were supported by delegates from across the country.”

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. 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.

Participating in these policy initiatives with our vast Chamber network is vitally important to what we do. We are stronger at the regional, provincial and national levels when we join with our fellow Chambers of Commerce to pursue policies that will encourage business growth. Doing so is good for Kelowna and for Canada.

We'd like to sincerely thank the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the City of Saint John, NB, for the hospitality. You can view an album on our Facebook page. If you have any questions or comments on policies that matter to you, we strongly urge you to Raise Your Concern with us.

Below is a brief description on the policies supported by the Kelowna Chamber at the Federal level:

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.

Quotables:

"I had the opportunity to experience the BC Chamber AGM in May in Burnaby. It is similar in the way policies are presented and debated, I think the biggest difference for me was how different policies mean different things for the provinces. It was most impressive how respectful all the delegates are in their language to debate or amend a policy. It is unbelievable impressive to be part of this important work that gets done every year and worked on at the individual chamber levels all year long." - President Nikki Csek on her first Canadian Chamber AGM.

"We hold a policy session each year with our members to really find out what is keeping them awake at night. Once we hear from sectors and industries, identify opportunities to lean in to, we are able then able to research the issue, discuss within our board and reach out to experts to help with the crafting of the policy that ultimately will effect change for the better if we have done our job. To see the Chamber of Commerce engine in action is something I will always cherish." - President Nikki Csek on why it was important for us to participate in the Canadian Chamber AGM.