Public Affairs Update Header
April 1, 2014
In This Issue
BC Chamber welcomes tool to help small businesses sell to government
B.C. resources declared in Canada’s strategic interests
Agreement reached to resume full operations at Port Metro Vancouver
B.C. announces changes to Agricultural Land Commission
Roundtable established to address economy and the environment
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

BC Chamber welcomes tool to help small businesses sell to government

The BC Chamber of Commerce welcomes the B.C. government’s just-launched two-page, short-form request for proposals (SRFP), which makes it easier for small businesses to sell to government.


“The small businesses throughout B.C. and our members in particular will be delighted to learn of the measures the Province is taking to enable more B.C. businesses to take advantage of and participate in the extensive procurement opportunities that exist. And to remove at the same time these bureaucratic measures is an added bonus,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the BC Chamber.


According to government, the shorter form will be used for government opportunities valued at less than $250,000, where it makes sense. The change streamlines the request for proposals process, making it easier for small businesses to apply and compete for work. The SRFP is one of several measures announced in 2013 to increase small businesses participation in government procurement opportunities. More info here.

B.C. resources declared in Canada’s strategic interests

During a provincial mission to Ottawa that launched yesterday, B.C.’s natural resources sector has been declared to be in Canada’s strategic interests. This declaration was part of a federal-provincial Memorandum of Understanding that affirms the commitment of both governments to work together, as well as with other partners, to develop the workforce the resource industry needs.


The province’s mission, announced here, focuses on strengthening the B.C. economy.


The mission team includes representatives from LNG proponents planning to invest in B.C., and First Nations leaders. In addition, the premier is accompanied by four cabinet ministers:


* Shirley Bond, minister of jobs, tourism and skills training and minister responsible for labour;


* Rich Coleman, minister of natural gas development and minister responsible for housing;


* Mary Polak, minister of environment; and


* John Rustad, minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation.


The BC Chamber of Commerce this week emphasized the importance of B.C.’s resource-based economy in a CKNW radio editorial.

Agreement reached to resume full operations at Port Metro Vancouver

Last week, the B.C. government announced that an agreement had been reached to end the 28-day work disruption at Port Metro Vancouver and resume full operations as of Thursday, March 27.


The agreement was between the governments of Canada and B.C., Port Metro Vancouver, Unifor and the United Truckers Association.


With the agreement, the B.C. government stated that it would not be proceeding with pending legislation that would have ordered a cooling off period in the Unifor job action.


Port Metro Vancouver released a statement about the agreement and next steps at the port.

B.C. announces changes to Agricultural Land Commission

Last week, the B.C. government announced changes to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), the first since land protection laws were tabled more than four decades ago. The changes are meant to protect farmland throughout the province and maintain the ALC’s independence from government.


Changes to the ALC are driven by the government’s Core Review process and include the creation of two ALC administered zones: in Zone 1, ALC decisions will continue to be made on the basis of the preserving agricultural land; in Zone 2, ALC decisions will now include additional considerations, including economic, cultural and social values along with regional and community planning objectives. Zone 2 consists of areas where growing seasons are shorter and where lower valued crops exist, including North, Interior and Kootenay regions.


NDP Agriculture critic Nicholas Simons argued that this division does not serve the province well and called for an independent body with a duty to protect all agricultural land. Further opposition also argued that the proposed changes put farmland at risk of increased industrial and residential development.

Roundtable established to address economy and the environment

Last week, Minister of Environment Mary Polak announced the establishment of a roundtable of representatives to address the balance between economic and resource development, and health and environmental protection. The roundtable will include representatives from communities, industry, labour, First Nations and the environmental sector.


The roundtable will be chaired by MLA Mike Bernier, and the group will meet every three to four months. Topics of discussion, which have yet to be specified, will be set by Polak in consultation with roundtable members.

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This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.