Talk of taxation, electoral reform and recreational cannabis legalization will draw more than 200 BC Chamber of Commerce members to Kamloops beginning Thursday for its annual conference and AGM.
The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event — which rotates through various communities in the province each year — from Thursday to Saturday at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre, 1250 Rogers Way in Aberdeen.
More than 50 resolutions will be debated. If adopted, the provincial network will lobby the appropriate level of government on behalf of the business community in British Columbia.
BC Chamber of Commerce director of policy development Dan Baxter told KTW tax resolutions — resulting from the provincial government’s employer health tax, speculation tax and increased carbon and corporate taxes — are coming forward.
“We want to be basically clear to government that we need to be mindful that we don’t erode that [tax] competitiveness,” Baxter said. “That’s obviously a key part of how do we grow a strong economy, is making sure our taxes are in line with other jurisdictions.”
Other resolutions that may be relevant to the general public revolve around housing affordability. Baxter said the issue has resurfaced for the third year.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re here in Vancouver or resort communities like Whistler or a community like Kamloops, there is always — it feels like — a constriction of supply to market rental housing,” Baxter said. “So what can we do to help government develop that supply so we have good supply for workers?”
Panel discussions — which the public may attend for $65 — will revolve around marijuana legalization and proportional representation.
“Just trying to give our membership the insight from both a pro-PR, pro-first-past-the-post perspective,” Baxter said. “Kind of what are the two systems? What does it mean for rural British Columbia, Interior British Columbia.”
The local chamber is bringing forward a resolution requesting clarity surrounding the type of proportional representation being considered and wants a non-partisan review body and clear majority to guide any changes to the electoral system.
The BC Chamber recently rebranded from the “voice of business” to a “driver of insight,” with access to information from chambers throughout the province.
This year at the AGM, the BC Chamber will launch a new online platform that will expand its ability to gauge the pulse of the business community on any particular issue.
“We can quickly put a survey out to the membership and say, ‘What’s your feeling on the speculation tax? Is it going to hurt or help business? What’s your feeling on the employers’ health tax? Are they making the right changes? What changes can we make?’ We really want to provide good, solid data to not just government, but to our partners, as well,” Baxter said.