Chambers influence government policies

A key role of any Chamber of Commerce is to advocate on behalf of their business community.

A key role of any Chamber of Commerce is to advocate on behalf of their business community.

Why is advocacy important?  It’s important because business owners have valuable information to contribute and legislators need to make informed decisions that address the needs of B.C. businesses.

Chambers of Commerce throughout BC regularly craft and debate policy resolutions on topics raised in their local communities.  Every year Chamber executives and board members meet to review these resolutions at the B.C. Chambers of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Conference.

The 2014 event was held this past weekend in Richmond. This unique grassroots policy-building forum brought together approximately 200 Chamber delegates from across B.C.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce represents 125 chambers in the province and 36,000 businesses, more than 700 of them from Summerland.  This is a very large and influential voice in the Province and consequently, the government listens to and often incorporates the Chambers’ policy resolutions into their planning process and the creation of new legislation.

In total, close to 50 policy resolutions dealing with finance and taxation, transportation, social policy, local government, skill development and energy and the environment were voted on by the delegates.

Twelve policies were put forward by Okanagan Chambers of Commerce at the conference.  Some that were endorsed by all the delegates were recommendations regarding taxation for credit unions in BC, reinstatement of the business vote, completion of a feasibility study showing the business case for the national park proposal for Okanagan Similkameen, the creation of a provincial capital fund for the support of arts and culture infrastructure, property transfer tax reform and a reduction in red tape at multiple levels of government to ensure easier access to registered disability savings plans for people who qualify.

The 39 policies endorsed by the delegates will now go to the BC government or in some cases the Federal government, for review and hopefully, implementation.  The track record is historically good and by participating in this conference, the needs of Summerland businesses are being heard at the provincial level.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at or our chamber president, Arlene Fenrich, at


Christine Petkau is the manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.