February 22, 2022
KELOWNA CHAMBER REACTS TO PROVINCIAL BUDGET
Stay the Course Budget Missed Opportunity to Send Signal of Support to Business Community
Kelowna: The BC budget may get a passing grade from some for its focus on continued pandemic recovery and renewed efforts to address climate change, however, it missed an opportunity to send a strong signal to the business community that government understands the challenges they have faced for the past two years and is prepared to provide tax relief. The Kelowna Chamber would have liked to have seen a bolder vision on how the government plans to ensure we remain a competitive jurisdiction globally – one which welcomes entrepreneurs who see the value of investing in British Columbia.
“We were hoping to see tax relief for small businesses which have continued to see increases in the cost of doing business throughout the pandemic,” says Kelowna Chamber President Jeffrey Robinson. Providing tax relief was among the top items the Kelowna Chamber referenced in its prebudget submission to government last fall. “Unfortunately, the budget provides very little to get small business excited and certainly doesn’t stimulate entrepreneurship to the degree we were hoping for.”
Finance Minister Selina Robinson delivered the provincial budget in the legislature Tuesday, and it included new funding commitments for emergency preparedness and disaster recovery, climate action, and homelessness. These are all subjects which will resonate well with local government including the City of Kelowna. The City has been pushing for funding for a complex care facility, something the Kelowna Chamber has been supporting as a means to help those with mental health and drug addiction issues who are living on the streets.
From an Okanagan perspective, the Kelowna Chamber was pleased that the government has set aside additional funding to assist the tourism sector in recovering from the pandemic, something the Chamber called for in its pre-budget submission to government. The province has also confirmed funding in 2023 for new student housing at a few Okanagan College campuses which is a positive. ($68 million to construct five new mass timber student housing buildings with 376 beds at Okanagan College, across three campuses – Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm).