BC Chamber of Commerce and Local Chambers endorse BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus Blueprint for BC’s Urban Future

VICTORIA, BC — The BC Chamber of Commerce and local chambers of commerce from across urban British Columbia have endorsed the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus’ plan for post-covid recovery. The Blueprint for BC’s Urban Future puts forward a vision for economic recovery that tackles key areas with wide-reaching impact on the social and economic fabric of BC’s urban centres.

“As local businesses and downtowns have been some of the hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic, the collective support of our chambers of commerce is essential in moving forward together with a collective voice to tackle these complex and overlapping issues facing our cities,” said co-Chair Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria.

The communities represented by the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus are diverse – from the south-western coast to the North, from the Fraser Valley to the Interior – but the vital economic role that each community plays, and the challenges each faces, are shared and they are also shared with urban business communities.

“In order to ensure our cities are prosperous and thriving well into the future, the voice of our local chambers and the BC Chamber is critical as we move forward on affordable housing, mental health and substance use treatment, better transit for all and a new fiscal relationship with government,” said Co-Chair Colin Basran, Mayor of Kelowna. “These are issues for cities, but what they chambers’ endorsement indicates, they are also issues for business.”

The BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus also met this morning with Minister Kahlon, Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, and Minister Osborne, Municipal Affairs to provide input into BC Economic Development strategy and to continue to highlight their vision for BC’s Urban Future with provincial partners.

Media Contacts: 

Mayor Basran, Co-Chair 

Cell: 250-575-4535 

Mayor Helps, Co-Chair 

Cell: 250-661-2708 

Quotes: 

Fiona Famulak, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce: 

“The BC Chamber of Commerce commends the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus for its Blueprint and is committed to working collaboratively to achieve real economic recovery and growth to support our communities. A strong economy will enable us to invest in mental health, substance use and treatment, affordable housing and transit. Economic diversification, innovation and greater inclusion, coupled with systemic change and commitments to invest in our communities to address climate change are critical to our collective success and is something the BC Chamber of Commerce is proud to champion.” 

Bruce Williams, CEO, Victoria Chamber of Commerce:  

“One of the biggest challenges to our region’s economy is the struggle employers have finding and keeping workers. This is expected to become more difficult over the next decade in BC’s cities, where real estate attracts international investment and housing prices are not tied directly to the local economy.  The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce supports the BC Urban Mayor’s Caucus calls for more affordable housing that meets the specific needs of people who require homes but, for various reasons, are not able to participate in the private real estate market.” 

Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade: 

“On behalf of the Surrey Board of Trade, we strongly support the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus 2020 Blueprint for British Columbia’s Urban Future. As one of the largest Boards of Trades in BC, we recognize the importance of urban communities as engines of economic development. The four pillars outlined by the proposal resonate with the Surrey Board of Trade, and Surrey’s business community. Investments in affordable housing, mental health, substance use and treatment, public transit, and a new fiscal relationship between the provincial and municipal governments are paramount to our recovery.”   

Jeffrey Robinson, Board Chair, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce: 

“As the largest Chamber of Commerce outside Metro Vancouver and Victoria, the Kelowna Chamber applauds the BCUMC, for the foresight and leadership demonstrated in setting direction on these central issues of good municipal governance and planning for a solid economic future. In particular, a better funding relationship between the province and its major centres, with a commitment to cutting red tape and building pathways to more rapid economic recovery, is a fundamental issue that must be addressed.  More direct funding to local governments from senior levels of government for infrastructure where there are already strong accountability controls should be aggressively pursued as a replacement for inefficient and unpredictable application-based grant funding.” 

Kim Smythe, President and CEO, Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce:  

“BC’s urban centres are bearing the brunt of the pandemic and its impacts along with an assortment of other ills – mental health care gaps, substance abuse and opioid deaths, social disorder, and homelessness. Not only is this troubling for residents and taxpayers, but these conditions negatively impact local economic activity, suppress employment and slow recovery. The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce supports these calls to action from the BCUMC and calls for all levels of government to strengthen our work together to ensure that municipalities – our communities – innovate and collaborate to create a better way forward.” 

Bridgitte Anderson, President and CEO, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade: 

“The pandemic and a year of restrictions have significantly impacted our urban cores, stifled our economy and intensified key societal challenges such as the lack of available and affordable housing, reducing congestion, mental health, substance use and treatment. As the major employment centers, productivity drivers and innovation hubs of the province, the health of our urban communities is critical to B.C.’s economic recovery and social wellbeing. It will take strong collaboration and bold vision to overcome the economic challenges, build a more resilient and inclusive economy, and make progress on the key societal issues impacting our urban centres.” 

Acacia Pangilinan, President of the Board of Directors, Kamloops Chamber of Commerce: 

“The pandemic has accelerated the need to deal with pressing issues facing our cities in a manner that allows citizens to quickly return to prosperity and growth. As such, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce supports the direction of the BCUMC Blueprint. We look forward to seeing the recommendations pursued with the purpose of creating a healthier, safer, and more prosperous province.” 

Paul Holden, President and CEO, Burnaby Board of Trade: 

The Burnaby Board of Trade is pleased to affirm our support for the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus 2020 Blueprint for BC’s Urban Future. It is now clearer than ever that, as the driving forces of our economic future, urban centres need the necessary investment required to address the issues facing their citizens, employers and workers. We support the goals of the Blueprint in addressing the significant challenges in the areas of public affordable housing, mental health, substance abuse, public transit and believe that a new fiscal relationship between senior levels of government and municipalities is an essential step towards these goals.” 

About the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus 

The BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus is an informal, non-partisan group of mayors from Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Richmond, Saanich, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria, representing over 55 per cent of the province’s total population. The group came together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and acts as a unified voice on critical issues facing their communities and urban British Columbia.  

The group published the Blueprint for British Columbia’s Urban Future, which outlines four key priorities for urban communities across the province: 

  1. Mental Health, Substance Use and Treatment 

  1. Affordable Housing 

  1. Public Transit 

  1. A New Fiscal Framework 

Visit the website here www.bcurbanmayorscaucus.ca