BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Shutting doors?

It's interesting that the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has blocked municipal representatives from attending regular board meetings

It was interesting to hear that the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has blocked municipal representatives from attending regular board meetings.

Now, of course, the chamber is completely within its rights, as an independent organization, to decide who sits around the table.

But the chamber’s move comes at the same time that it’s wading into municipal matters.

First off, the chamber is calling for a study into possibly merging Greater Vernon’s boundaries.

“They don’t make sense any more. Now, decisions made by the City of Vernon can be of huge importance to the residents of Coldstream. And vice-versa,” said president Adrian Johnson in a recent letter to the editor.

Just a few days later, the chamber’s business improvement group for real estate and development challenged the city’s official community plan review.

“In our current struggling local economy, economic development must be a key guiding principle to the future of Vernon. But unfortunately, it is only a mere mention regarding some brief goals with no action plans or accountability,” said Pamela Owen, committee chairperson.

“We are a group of concerned professionals who are seeing business development turn away every day due to municipal red tape and lack of open-door policies. It is time the business community is heard.”

The chamber is right to represent the interest of its members and these concerns obviously require attention by our municipal leaders.

But one could make the argument that with the chamber demanding action on a number of fronts, now is the time for Vernon and Coldstream to be at the board table.

If the chamber executive wanted to know more about how the municipalities operate and whether amalgamation will create efficiencies, all they had to do was simply turn to the municipal representatives — Will Pearce, Vernon’s chief administrative officer, and Pat Cochrane, Coldstream councillor.

In terms of the city’s OCP, a board meeting would be the perfect opportunity to provide one-on-one input on economic development and the measures that can be taken to reduce red tape and allow entrepreneurs to thrive.

Based on what they heard at the chamber board meeting, Pearce and Cochrane could take that information back to their respective jurisdictions for consideration.

Now the chamber insists that it isn’t ignoring the municipalities.

Instead of participating in full board sessions, municipal representatives will attend those parts of meetings deemed to be relevant, as well as quarterly gatherings of the full chamber membership.

“The presence of senior local government representatives at frequent meetings open to all our members creates a forum for regular two-way communication with the entire business community,” said Johnson.

Obviously that’s a positive move, but quarterly meetings only occur four times a year, which means the communication lines can get pretty stale.

By having Pearce and Cochrane at monthly meetings, the executive can be more proactive, including letting the membership know immediately about issues that may impact them. If it’s a critical item, then lobbying can begin right away.

Regular meetings can also allow personal relationships to develop and that can be critical when trying to influence public policy.

As I mentioned earlier, the chamber is totally within its right to change how meetings occur, although, except for Johnson saying, “One thing we are looking at is our governance model,” it’s not clear why this shift is necessary.

In the end, time will tell if communications remain open with local government or if the chamber’s voice has diminished.

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Coldstream celebrates spring with Easter egg hunt

The family-friendly event takes place Mackie Lake House Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m.

Vernon woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

Vipers win pivotal game 5 to take 3-2 series lead

Vipers beat the Trail Smoke Eaters by a score of 5-2 and will look to end the series Saturday night in Trail at 7 p.m. at the Trail Memorial Centre. Contributed: Vernon Vipers Staff

None injured in small fire near Lumby

“It looks like it was accidental, definitely nothing suspicious.”

Vernon road closed again following landslide

The road that was reopened Thursday morning was closed again Friday following geotechnical engineer report.

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read