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Change of Government needed main message at Cold Lake Chamber AGM

The state of the economy was the topic at the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Annual General Meeting on March 13th. While the Chamber continues to grow through events that engage the business community, it was clear that businesses have been greatly impacted by the recession.

Newly elected Chamber president, Ryan Lefebvre promised members that the Chamber is working on some exciting and “new events that will generate some significant buzz around our community.” One of those new events being, Feast at the Beach, a food & vendor showcase Labour Day weekend at Kinosoo Beach.

The president added he is hopeful for changes following the elections, “as we move into an election year at both the Provincial and Federal level, we are hopeful to see some positive changes for the business community.”

The Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce is in the midst of working on a policy that will allow for them to endorse a candidate. As Lefebvre explains, there will be a series of criteria the candidate would have to meet to be considered “business friendly”. The candidate deemed most business friendly would then be endorsed by the Chamber.

Also taking to the podium at the AGM was Scott Cyr, David Hanson, Greg Sawchuk (Reeve, Municipal District of Bonnyville) and Craig Copeland (Mayor, City of Cold Lake). Each man spoke on the state of the economy. Each touching on how provincial and federal government impacts the local economy. As well as the importance of the Chamber’s business advocacy initiatives.

Scott Cyr, whom at the time was serving as MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake, called for the need of an election. His call was answered yesterday when Rachel Notley dropped the writ, announcing the election date of April 16th. It couldn’t have come sooner, as Cyr explained to the crowd the poor state of the economy in Alberta and particularly northeastern Alberta.

“We’ve all seen the trend that this current government has not been very business friendly,” Cyr criticized the NDP government for leading with their ideals, not economic sense.

David Hanson mirrored Cyr’s sediments about the government to the crowd. Stated that Alberta was “the greatest province in Canada and people took it for granted in 2015.” Hanson said the business community is ready for change. “We’ve all learned a very hard lesson.”

Referring to government policy Hanson pointed out the Carbon tax and its cost on local businesses, as well as schools. Drawing attention to recent figures from local school divisions where one paid carbon tax of over $26,000 in bussing costs alone. Another school division paid over $70,000 in carbon tax on their bussing costs. These increases coupled with new bus driver exam regulations have caused a lot of strain on the local schools, stated Hanson.

Reeve for the MD of Bonnyville, Greg Sawchuk said since he has been elected he has began visiting local businesses in the MD. He didn’t give prior warning to the businesses so he could get a true look at their state of affairs. “We got the feeling that businesses were in trouble.” Reeve Sawchuk stated that many businesses expressed that “the challenges they are facing now are worse than they’ve ever faced in the history of their businesses.”

“It comes back to the oil market and where the pipelines are, and the lack thereof. We need those markets opened up and we’ll see investment,” stated the reeve.

Mayor for Cold Lake, Craig Copeland expressed a new positive working partnership between the MD and the City. “This is the first time we’ve been able to do business with the MD of Bonnyville. We’re going to all work together in a positive way to move things forward. Everyone is going to benefit in the area.”

The mayor also stressed the importance of the ID-349 deal and the impact the money has on the city, “we’re investing for the future.” Reminiscing about the positives that money has brought to Cold Lake; including upgrades to sewers, roads, fire/rescue, and recreation.

The Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce urges members to check out the Alberta Chamber of Commerce’s Vote Prosperity Campaign and get out & vote!