Vernon chamber reps meet with NDP MLAs

Issues raised by chamber as NDP holds caucus meeting in North Okanagan

Dan Rogers

Dan Rogers

Reps of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce were able to raise a number of issues with members of the provincial NDP caucus as they visited the North Okanagan this week.

President Dauna Kennedy Grant, vice-president Markus Schrott and director Rob Tedham, who chairs the chamber’s policy committee, joined general manager Dan Rogers in meeting with the NDP MLAs who were led by Victoria Beacon Hill MLA Carole James, opposition finance critic.

Support for arts and culture as an economic driver, further integration of services between area local governments and the importance for all levels of government to work with industry in addressing the need for affordable housing were among the issues highlighted by the chamber.

“There is a growing need to ensure access to safe and affordable housing for those on low income as well as those with young families, and it will take a concerted effort by all orders of government to improve the situation,” said Rogers.

“The chamber’s Big Red committee has been calling on local governments in the area to streamline their processes and reduce the regulatory burden, but there is also a role for both the provincial and federal governments in assisting municipalities like Vernon and Coldstream in addressing this issue.”

Other issues raised by the Greater Vernon Chamber included:

  • ·         The chamber’s recent submission to the Ministry of Transportation that, among other things, called on the province to initiate the discussion and planning for a highway bypass route in Vernon that could act as a Dangerous Goods Route allowing heavy traffic to move smoothly and efficiently through the city.
  • The same submission also called for highway improvements north of Vernon to ensure unfettered and efficient movement of goods and people all the way through the Okanagan valley from the U-S Border to Highway 1 at Sicamous.
  • ·         The challenges the region is facing in addressing the need for a certainty in the supply of potable water and the likely need of provincial assistance in funding any planning improvements to the system (RDNO Master Water Plan).
  • ·         The need for further due diligence by the province in preventing invasive species such as the zebra and quagga mussels from entering B.C.’s fresh waters.

“As a non-partisan organization it is important for the chamber to work with both members of government, and with the opposition in raising issues of importance to our members and the business community in the Greater Vernon area,” said Kennedy Grant, who added, “We appreciate the time the MLAs took in listening to our concerns and issues.”

The MLAs attending the session included James; Shane Simpson, Vancouver Hastings; Maurine Karagianis, Esquimalt Royal Roads; Mable Elmore, Vancouver-Kensington.