At this time of year, the BC Chamber of Commerce is planning for its 2018 Annual General Meeting and Conference in May. An integral part of this is the review and creation of policy for BC Chamber members to discuss and vote on, determining the advocacy efforts for the year ahead.

Policy gets a bad rap as boring and bureaucratic. The strength of the BC Chamber’s approach to policy is that it is developed at the grass roots level rather than a top down approach – innovative not bureaucratic.

Chambers of Commerce, businesses and partners drive the creation of policy based on concerns, trends and issues manifesting in BC communities. If adopted by the membership, these policies form the basis for the BC Chamber’s conversations with the provincial government, as well as intersecting with the work of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to influence federal policy.

So how do individual Chambers know what areas should translate into policy? This happens in a variety of ways. Some Chambers have active policy committees. Others hold regular roundtables with community stakeholders. All of us keep an eye on the news, and interact with our members. We are at our strongest when members and partners pick up the phone to us, and keep us in the loop.

There are also tools that help inform and advise our discussions. From October to November 2017, the BC Chamber ran its “Collective Perspective” survey, inviting business owners and CEOs across the province to provide feedback on the current business climate.

The assessment of the survey was that “individual business optimism is high, and the outlook over the next five years is still of growth, but housing affordability, trade with China, and the Kinder Morgan Pipeline are top of mind for many people.”

There was also real concern expressed about the impact of both federal and provincial taxes, especially after the federal government approach to business taxation last year.

As with many things in life, talking to one another is key to making a difference. If you want to talk about influencing policy from a WestShore perspective, I invite you to give me a call at 250-478-1130.

You can check out for further information on policy development and the Collective Perspective Survey Report. For more information on the WestShore Chamber of Commerce, please go to

Julie Lawlor is the Executive Director at the WestShore Chamber of Commerce. You can reach her at [email protected]