Undated photograph of the Delta Board of Trade building with three people and one dog in front. (Delta Archives, Fonds No. CR-102, Item No. 1980 52 236)

Undated photograph of the Delta Board of Trade building with three people and one dog in front. (Delta Archives, Fonds No. CR-102, Item No. 1980 52 236)

Advocacy at the heart of Delta Chamber’s mission since the beginning

Delta Board of Trade petitioned for a bridge across the Fraser River in 1910

When it was first established in 1910, the Delta Board of Trade sent a petition to the Delta municipal council for a bridge to be built across the Fraser River. One hundred and ten years later, the same organization is again advocating for a crossing to the Fraser River.

At the May 2020 B.C. Chamber of Commerce AGM, the Delta Chamber of Commerce’s policy resolution, called “Expediting the George Massey Crossing Project,” received the endorsement of all 125 chamber and boards of trade in the province — representing 36,000 business across the province. The result of this resolution’s adoption is that it became part of the B.C. Chamber’s advocacy agenda with the provincial government.

The mission of the Delta Chamber is to promote growth and prosperity through advocacy on behalf of Delta businesses. Over the past year, this advocacy work has not only included what appears to be the evergreen question of crossing the Fraser River, but also other provincially and federally-adopted Delta Chamber policies on investing in the growing agritech sector, development of a long-term provincial infrastructure investment strategy, and federal funding for flood protection measures like the dikes that protect the businesses, homes, and farms of our community.

Here in our community, the Chamber is active in listening to our businesses to better understand what issues they’re facing, and advocating with decision makers at all levels of government to implement change.

Before the pandemic we were already hearing from Delta businesses that they were struggling to recruit and retain the right workers. The most frequently expressed concern by businesses has been the negative effect of traffic delays, stalls and accidents at the George Massey Tunnel — it negatively impacts their ability to recruit and retain employees, to access couriers and transportation services, and to reliably make deliveries.

When looking at public transit alternatives, businesses on Annacis Island, in Tilbury Industrial Park, and in Delta’s other industrial business areas struggle with the lack of public transit available to feasibly run multiple shifts, which limits their competitive advantage and ability to maximize production. TransLink and Metro Vancouver’s planning processes do not currently include significant change to the level of transit service to these areas.

Once the pandemic arrived, however, we saw a change to our advocacy work. Some local companies provided essential services and not only needed to continue their work, but to scale up their production and distribution capacity, even with increased restrictions such as interruptions in international supply chains, and workers with symptoms needing to self-isolate, or whose children no longer had childcare or schooling available.

Other businesses went from active and successful to being ordered closed due to public health orders. They needed support navigating their business offering or with what it meant to re-open with an appropriate WorkSafeBC COVID-19 safety plan.

As an active partner of Delta’s Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team (CRERST), the Chamber has been connecting with businesses across Delta to provide COVID-19 support. Across Delta, we’re listening to business owners to better understand the issues that face their industry and their area to effectively be the voice of business in Delta to all levels of government in our advocacy.

We’re working in partnership with local business associations, who are tirelessly promoting their communities, and with Tourism Delta and the City of Delta, who are consistently working to encourage residents to #supportlocal here in Delta. In response to COVID-19 we are all working together in a “Team Delta” approach to supporting community resiliency and economic recovery.

Garry Shearer is executive director of the Delta Chamber of Commerce.


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