KAMLOOPS - While the organization commends councillors and the mayor for the most part, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, unshockingly would like to see more done to help the city’s business community.
In what the chamber calls a Municipal Report Card, city council’s actions around business is reviewed in four broad categories: strengthening fiscal accountability, enhancing business processes, fostering community engagement and promoting business development and economic diversity.
Chamber chair Joshua Knaak says the report is relatively positive, but there are areas where they would to see more, or less action.
“We want to not just highlight the areas that need improvement,” he says. “We want to give credit where credit's due.”
Economic development and diversity was one area the chamber identified as needing work. Knaak says council’s promotion of business diversity and development could be improved, and discussion around two projects in particular, the Trans Mountain pipeline and proposed Ajax Mine, was less encouraging. With the caveat that the projects need to pass proper environmental regulations, he would like to see more support, which would lessen the financial burden on all other businesses.
“The solution for us is to broaden the tax base,” he says.
Additionally, the discussions can create uncertainty in the Kamloops business environment.
“There needs to be certainty when council makes a decision,” he says. “Uncertainty is one of the biggest killers to business.”
The other area the chamber wants to see improved upon is regulation.
“If there’s one level of government that regulates something, that’s good,” he says. “Government needs to let the appropriate level (of government) dictate terms.”
Council did particularly well with public engagement Knaak says, highlighted by the recent public budget meeting attended by nearly 160 residents.
Decisions over the past two years were compared to a survey the chamber did in 2014. Knack says the chamber’s Campaign Issues Committee, which worked on the report, also used media reports, council minutes and membership feedback.
The chamber evaluated the council as a whole instead of individually because, Knack says, ultimately council makes decisions as a whole. He sees giving them feedback on how businesses view those decisions as a way to build a better community through strong business.
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