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Greater Victoria, BC News

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Date ArticleType
1/4/2017 Media Release
Greater Victoria Chamber at the Helm for 2017

Greater Victoria, January 4, 2017 - The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce announced today its path to steer on issues of concern to the region’s business community. For 2017, its advocacy efforts will focus on the following seven priority areas:

1. Affordable Housing
2. Climate Change
3. Labour Supply And Retention
4. Local Economy
5. Local Government: Governance And Services
6. Regulatory Environment.
7. Transportation

“Our annual priorities are based on ongoing collaboration with our stakeholders and members,” said The Chamber’s Chair, Al Hasham. “This focus will support our work advocating for a regional operating environment that supports local businesses.”

The Chamber engages, supports, and informs the business community to shape dialogue and identify issues of concern to member businesses. The Chamber also engages elected officials at all levels of government to ensure the region’s business interests are heard.

Affordable Housing

Members are increasingly concerned about the scarcity of affordable housing available to our workforce, particularly those earning low to moderate incomes. The Chamber’s position is easy access to housing—both rental and ownership—supports the labour needs of today and tomorrow.

The Chamber will advocate for the local, regional, provincial and federal governments to invest in methods to reduce private market housing prices as well as stimulate housing and rental inventories. In addition, The Chamber will advocate to increase the supply of affordable housing accessible to employees on low to moderate incomes.

Climate Change

Members are concerned about climate change and how the evolving regulatory environment pertaining to it will affect businesses’ ability to succeed and attract investment. The Chamber’s position is economic prosperity goes hand-in-hand with environmental sustainability.

As a newly adopted policy area, our advocacy will build on the existing work of The Chamber and Greater Victoria businesses to support environmental sustainability. The Chamber will advocate for solutions that work best for business while supporting public goals for emission reduction and promoting how businesses can also lead through innovation and example.

Labour Supply and Retention

Members are citing challenges in hiring qualified workers as a barrier to success. Further, our members are concerned that young families cannot afford to move to/remain in in Greater Victoria due to the high cost of living: namely housing and childcare. Given our increasingly global workforce, The Chamber’s position is that employers need to be able to effectively compete for and tap into all available sources of talent.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for efficient immigration processes with relevant immigration targets and domestic mobility programs that allow employers to effectively compete for foreign and domestic talent. Further, The Chamber will advocate for ways to decrease the high cost of living in Greater Victoria, such as through increased access quality affordable childcare and housing.

Local Economy

Members are aware that government support to economic development has been historically under-resourced and has lacked a regional focus, thereby impacting their ability to succeed and to attract investment. The Chamber’s position is that fair and competitive residential and business taxes, a competitive cost of living as well as a regional approach to economic development contributes to a healthy and resilient economy.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for the judicious use of taxpayer dollars, creation of better jobs, attraction of external investment, and for the diversification and growth of our vibrant economy. The Chamber will actively champion a regional approach to economic development, and will continue to work collaboratively with local governments and like-minded stakeholders to enhance Greater Victoria's reputation as a world-class place to live, learn and work.

Local Government - Governance

Members are frustrated with the cost—in terms of dollars, time and energy—to operate in more than one municipality. In addition, members are concerned that Greater Victoria’s reputation and ability to compete with other jurisdictions can be impacted by its inability to deliver regionally.The Chamber’s position is that effective local governance supports business success and growth.

The Chamber will advocate for better governance through fewer governments. Specifically, for the Province to develop realistic options for improved regional governance through the amalgamation of local governments as well as for local governments to commit to regional approaches.

Local Government - Service Delivery

Members are increasingly concerned about the financial burden placed on businesses as well as the impact that inefficient service delivery has on their ability to succeed and to attract investment. The Chamber’s position is efficient and cost-effective municipal services support business success.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate that local governments work to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of municipal service delivery so as to reduce the burden on businesses and improve Greater Victoria’s reputation.

Regulatory Environment

Members are increasingly aware of the need to adapt and evolve to meet customer demands, such as to offer more convenience, lower prices, and increasingly unique customer experiences. Members are concerned that emerging business models affect traditional industries and that existing regulations can place them at a disadvantage. The Chamber’s position is that well designed and effectively enforced regulations and legislation supports businesses, protects consumers, and contributes to healthy communities.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for the creation or review of regulatory and legislative frameworks, at all levels of government, to ensure a fair and competitive environment.

Transportation

Members are concerned about increasing vehicle travel times, aging/inadequate transportation infrastructure such as Belleville International Ferry Terminal, disproportionate and costly approaches to non-vehicle related transportation modes, and the affordability of B.C. Ferries. The Chamber’s position is that a fast, easy and reliable regional transportation system will attract and retain workers and investors, and support key sectors such as tourism.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for regional approaches to transportation, such as a transportation commission with multimodal planning and delivery responsibility as well as fair and transparent approaches to infrastructure planning.

Background: The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has over 1,400 business members and is the largest business association in the region. The Chamber’s advocacy is a unique service that differentiates The Chamber from other membership-based associations in Greater Victoria. More info at www.victoriachamber.ca.

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Media Contact:
Peggy Kulmala
Policy and Public Affairs Manager
policy@victoriachamber.ca

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