B.C. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Jon Garson was the guest speaker at the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting on Thursday at The Beach Club.

New president of B.C. Chamber of Commerce talks about changing focus

Jon Garson spoke to local chamber members in Parksville — the B.C. chamber has 125 member chambers and represents 32,000 businesses

Chambers of commerce need to shift their focus and concentrate more on services that will help their members grow and thrive, Jon Garson told a crowd in Parksville on Thursday night.

Garson, the new president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, was the guest speaker at the Parksville chamber’s monthly dinner meeting last week at The Beach Club. He said the B.C. chamber and local chambers of commerce have done a good job with wider, more provincial issues like the success they have had urging the province to cut red tape and keep taxes low in comparison to other jurisdictions in Canada and North America.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce count 125 chambers representing 32,000 businesses as its members.

“That easily makes us the broadest-based voice of business in the province,” said Garson. He said reductions in red tape at the provincial level and a tax regime that’s one of the most competitive in the world “would not have happened” without pressure on the provincial government from chambers of commerce.

He also said other, on-the-ground issues like succession, training and export opportunities are coming more to the forefront for members.

“Businesses are asking some harder questions these days,” said Garson. “If you want to grow your business, the chamber should be the place you go for help. We need to develop a range of new services to help business grow and create new jobs.”

Before coming to Canada, Garson worked in various government ministries in the United Kingdom. He had been working on the policy side of the B.C. chamber for 10 years before becoming president earlier this year and while he spoke about the need for chambers to do more detailed work for its members, he did seem most fired up when speaking about broader, province-wide policy concerns.

He spoke of a “crisis of affordability” in B.C. and a shift in the message he believes the province is sending to the world when it — or First Nations — denies resource-based developments.

“We are still hewers of wood and drawers of water,” said Garson. “But we are developing a culture of ‘no’ in B.C. which is fundamentally undermining our attractiveness to investment.”

He pointed to the provincial sales tax as an impediment for investment, a cost that he said matters to big companies looking to come here. Garson also said he’s confident the B.C. chamber will be heard by the new federal Liberal government.

“This is a government we know we can work with,” he said.

Just Posted

RND director says filming of ‘Sonic’ caused disruption

Veenhof wants regional district to have filming permits in future

Parksville-area graffiti tagger arrested by RCMP

Existing court conditions required that suspect not be in possession of graffiti-making material

Winner crowned at Qualicum Bay Art Battle

Island painters compete in 20-minute art challenge

Seeing double, the trials and tribulations of twins

BIG READ: Three Vancouver Island mothers share their experiences with multiple births

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

Most Read