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  • What Exactly is a Policy Session? A Former Kamloops Chamber Board President Answers...

    What Exactly is a Policy Session? A Former Kamloops Chamber Board President Answers...

    For over a century, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce has been an active player in building up our regional businesses, while fostering resilient communities locally and across the country.

    A common misperception about the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is that we are an extension of the Government. However, local Chambers are typically funded by business owners throughout the region they represent (we represent businesses in the Thompson Valley), who work alongside our Board and Staff to address the needs of the local business community. We have strong connections and work collaboratively with all levels of Government but are an independent body.

    Each year, we host the Chamber Summit, which consists of the Chamber's Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Policy Session. But, we've noticed that when we say the words' Policy Session' – we often see our members' eyes glaze over, as some of the information can be very technical and outside the norm. 

    To remedy this – we caught up with former Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Board President, Tyson Andrykew, to address questions, like, what exactly is a policy session and how can I get involved? See below to see what he has to say.


    Photo Caption: 2020 Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Policy Session (Photo Credit: Kathleen Fisher Photography)

    What is a Chamber of Commerce Policy Session?   
    The policy session is the culmination of this past twelve months' policy work by the Chamber's Business Advocacy committee. Chamber members and non-members are invited throughout the year to bring regulatory issues and challenges to the committee for review and research. Should the committee determine if a policy recommendation is necessary, then the committee members will work with the concerned businessperson to draft a policy and recommendations for Government. Those policies and recommendations are discussed and voted on during the annual Chamber Summit's Policy Session.
     
    Why is it important to participate in the Policy Session? 
    The policies discussed have the ability to change Municipal, Provincial, or Federal law and thus could vastly impact your business. The Policy Session aims to ensure that the policy that is sent to Government has been thoroughly critiqued and that it has the Kamloops business community's endorsement. We value the members' input with these policies, so we want you there! 

    Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Acacia Pangilinan Dan Baxter Policy Session
     Photo Caption: 2020 Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Policy Session (Photo Credit: Kathleen Fisher Photography)

    If I am a Member of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, can I join the Policy Session?  
    Absolutely! Members can join the session, participate in discussion and debate of the policy. You can even suggest edits, additions, or deletions to the policy. Members will ultimately vote as well to either approve or reject the policy.
     
    If I am not a member of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, can I join the Policy Session?  
    Only current members in good standing can participate in the Kamloops Chamber Policy Session. Your local Chamber of Commerce is an independent body that is funded solely by its members. A portion of your membership fee helps the Chamber team facilitate meetings and bring in knowledge-experts in the field to assist with advocacy efforts that have the power to shape the country. The more businesses that become members, the richer and more diverse our policies become. To learn more about Chamber membership, click here.  

    Kamloops Chamber Business in Kamloops Tyson Andrykew Policy Sesson Photo Caption: 2020 Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Policy Session (Photo Credit: Kathleen Fisher Photography)

    What is a 'voting member' – am I a voting member?  
    A voting member is the registered representative from a member business. Each business has a limited amount of votes based on the size of the company. So, if you are the Chamber member and were registered as the business's voting member, you will have the ability to vote during the Chamber Summit's Policy Session.

    Voting Member Breakdown
    1 – 10 Employees & Non-profits = 1 Vote
    11- 50 Employees = 2 Votes
    51+ Employees = 3 Votes

    To find out who is your organizations voting member, please email membership@kamloopschamber.ca
     
    How do I voice my support or opposition for a proposed policy? 
    At the beginning of the policy session, the session's rules will be presented to ensure that everyone is aware of how to ask question, how to support or oppose, and how to make any changes to the proposed policy. 
     
    Before the Policy Session, where do I find information about the policies that will be discussed? 
    Information regarding the policy session, including all of the proposed policies, will be emailed out a minimum of 14 days in advance to all current members of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce. 

    Kamloops Chamber Business in Kamloops Policy Session
     Photo Caption: 2019 Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Policy Session (Photo Credit: Kim Anderson Photography)

    What is the next step if a policy passes?  
    Should a policy resolution pass successfully amongst the majority of the members present at the session, it has one of two options for what the next step is. If the policy is Municipal in nature, our Board will take the policy and schedule a meeting with the appropriate Department Head at the City of Kamloops or with Mayor and/or Council to discuss the policy details and the recommendations.
     
    Suppose the policy is Provincial or Federal in nature. In that case, the policy will be brought forward to the BC Chamber of Commerce policy session, usually held in May of each year. Should the policy pass and it is Federal in nature, then the policy will be presented at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce policy session which is usually held in September.
     
    Once these Provincial and Federal policies pass at their respective Chambers of Commerce, they are then added to the Policy Books of those Chambers. Those Chambers will then meet regularly with Cabinet Ministers to advocate for the recommendations provided in the policy. With any luck, this advocacy will bring about regulatory change.

    Learn more our BC Chamber's 2020-2021 Policy & Positions Manual here
    Learn more about the Canadian Chamber's 2020 Proposed Policy Resolutions here
     
    What happens if a policy fails? 
    If the policy fails, it is sent back to the Business Advocacy Committee to determine if changes can be adopted in the policy to bring forward again in a future year or if the policy should be removed as a priority for the Chamber at this time.

    Policy Session Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Business
     Photo Caption: 2019 Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Policy Session (Photo Credit: Kim Anderson Photography)
     
    I would like to get more involved in policymaking, how can I do this through the Chamber? 
    Your local Chamber is always looking for more participation with our policy work! The best way to get involved is to either reach out to the staff at the Chamber office at hello@kamloopschamber.ca, or to one of our Board members. The Business Advocacy Committee can always use more support!
     
    If I have an idea for a future policy, how do I get the ball rolling? What is the first step? 
    The first step when looking at a future policy is to record the details of the problem. Outline the situation, clarify the specific regulatory burden, and then suggest some actionable recommendations to solve the problem. It is also advised to get in touch a member of Chamber staff or someone on the board to have a member of the Business Advocacy Committee work alongside you and help with the process.

    The 2021 Chamber Summit will be taking place on Wednesday, March 10. If you have never attended a policy session before, we encourage you to come out and share your insight.

    Learn more about the policies that will be discussed at this year's Policy Session here. 

    Do you still have questions or are you curious about membership? Schedule a virtual appointment with a member of the Kamloops Chamber team.

    Contributing Authors:
    Tyson Andrykew Kamloops Chamber of Commerce

    Tyson Andrykew,
    Board President, Kamloops Chamber of Commerce (2020)
    Vice President of Sales & Operations, Mundi Hotel Enterprises


    Nic Zdunich

    Nic Zdunich,
    Community Builder, 

    Kamloops Chamber of Commerce

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