May 29, 2015 - 11:46 AM
KELOWNA - The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is jubilant in winning the Chamber of the Year award at the BC Chamber Annual General Meeting.
This is the first time the Kelowna Chamber has brought home this award and sets Kelowna on top of the 120 business associations in the province.
The award was presented at the BC Chamber of Commerce AGM and Conference, May 24-26 in Prince George by past BC Chamber President Rod Cox.
"We attended this event to make sure our local businesses' views are heard and understood at the provincial level, and that our local needs help drive the BC Chamber's policy and advocacy agenda," said Ken Carmichael, President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
The BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Conference is held in a different B.C. community each year. The event is the largest annual business policy-building forum in the province.
"It was an honor to accept the award on behalf of our 2014-2015 Board members and staff," says Board President Carmichael. "After the award was announced our CEO, Caroline Grover and myself were surrounded by our peers asking what was the primary reasons for our membership growth and successes. My response was, we listen to our members and deliver benefits in a way that makes sense for our membership."
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce won in part for their innovative programs for Women and Executive leadership and programs to support and recognize business people aged under forty. Along with their advocacy work, consistent membership communications and investment in staff training and a willingness to take leadership positions.
Every year, member Chambers of the BC Chamber develop and submit policies for the consideration of their peers. This year, 54 policies were forwarded and voted on at the AGM policy sessions. Each policy must receive two-thirds of votes to pass. It will then become official BC Chamber policy, and the BC Chamber will advocate it to appropriate tiers of government.
"We take stands on the proposed policies, based on what our community needs," said Jeff Robinson, Chair of the Kelowna policy committee. "We are proud to participate at the BC Chamber AGM, to enable our community to actively shape business advocacy in B.C."
The theme this year for four resolutions was continuing to fight on four separate issues where we have seen some success and support from Provincial and Federal governments, but feel that there is still room for improvement.
"The Chamber is quick to recognize the positive support the BC and Canadian Chamber networks receive from government on many of the local resolutions and sincerely appreciate that we are their go to organization representing business," says Robinson.
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce was successful in bringing forward five (5) policies at the AGM. The Province is being asked to tighten the net and improve check points on BC border points. This is to ensure that no invasive mussel species enters BC's pristine lakes on boats and devastates our infrastructure and lake dependent economies.
Another on-going issue is the shipment of private purchase wine, beer and spirits between provinces. Some provinces like Ontario are refusing to allow the free flow of quality BC product. The BC Government will be asked to keep the pressure on these hold outs.
The digital media industry has become a significant economic driver in B.C. with no signs of slowing down over the next years ahead. With this growth B.C. has an opportunity to set up the infrastructure necessary for this industry to become global leaders across all its sectors and continue to strengthen B.C.'s economy. There is an opportunity for the provincial government to work with the federal government, local governments, the academic sector and the digital industry to identify impediments to this sector's growth.
The Chamber network continues to work with the real estate and construction associations to draw the province's attention to the Property Transfer Tax that is counter productive to housing affordability. The Kelowna Chamber made joint recommendations to ensure tax flows to government are tied to indexing of new housing prices and assistance to first time buyer's increase. Along with higher rates for non-resident home purchasers.
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce came away with support for a new policy to consider changes to British Columbia's Employment Standards Act to harmonize its hours of work and overtime provisions with those in Alberta's Employment Standards Code. This is an issue with employers who have employees working in both provinces.
"Our Chamber is committed to creating a more business-friendly Central Okanagan and a more business-friendly B.C. We think these policies will help achieve that and we were appreciative of the needed votes we received from our peer Chambers," says a smiling Caroline Grover, CEO of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
"It was a stellar occasion to win the BC Chamber of the Year Award and have all five of our policies pass, and to top it all off, the announcement was made that Kelowna will be hosting the Conference next year," she says.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015