As the voice of business in Peterborough and the Kawarthas for 138 years, advocacy is a core component of the role of the Chamber in our community.
We work with the local business community to identify barriers and opportunities. That grassroots input turns into various forms of advocacy initiatives.
Currently, we’re in the midst of the national-level advocacy program. As members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC), we have an opportunity to submit local issues of national significance as policy resolutions.
We have two resolutions proposed:
• Tax Rebates for Home Care – We’re looking to save taxpayers money while providing a higher level of care for people with long-term health needs. Currently, access to key equipment like hospital beds and patient lifts are a barrier people being eligible for home care support work. Additionally, a bit of help with paying for those services will go a long way in enabling people to receive care at home instead of an institution.
• Increasing Public Notice and Consultations for Federal Projects – The rules around providing public notice regarding road closures are vague when it comes to federal agencies. Peterborough experienced this with very little notice regarding the Parkhill Road bridge closure. We’re advocating that the federal government increase requirements for federal agencies to provide public notice to affected residents and businesses when closing a road for planned work.
These resolutions will be debated by CCC members in the fall. In the mean time they’re being vetted by members of various committees (of which our Chamber is a part of) to make sure it’s a significant enough business issue to need attention at the federal level. These committees help improve local advocacy efforts with other perspectives and expertise.
The provincial policy process is very similar to the national one. We are active members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and submit resolutions on provincially significant issues. Earlier this year we had a resolution approved regarding tiny homes and secondary suites. We’re looking to have the Province work with municipalities to streamline the approval process for this type of niche housing, keeping cost, risk, and complexity to a minimum.
When it comes to local government, the policy process is entirely based around grassroots advocacy. We take input from local businesses directly to the government involved and work on solutions, whether it’s reducing the commercial and industrial tax ratio or making sure the perspective of local businesses is heard in the official plan, transportation master plan, and other municipal planning initiatives.
Regardless of the government body we’re advocating to, the majority of our work doesn’t result in policy resolutions or even formal letters to our leaders. Most of the advocacy work we do starts with an email, phone call, or a casual conversation at a networking event. Someone is facing a very specific barrier like a zoning issue or haven’t had a response from a government agency on a crucial application. Sometimes they just need to chat with someone to make sense of government regulations. Other times we partner with industry associations to amplify their voice.
It's not that we have all the answers or can solve every issue brought to our attention. Sometimes it can be sorted out quickly with some pressure, compromise, or better communication. Other times it’s a long-term process. We’ve been advocating for the return of passenger rail to Peterborough for more than a decade and we don’t plan on stopping until that first load of passengers arrives. We’ve hit some obstacles along the way, but right now passenger rail is closer to becoming a reality than any time since service ceased, with support from all major political parties and a government that now has parts of the project into the procurement phase.
Whether you’re facing a pressing issue, have new opportunities you need help exploring, or are looking for long-term results, we’ll continue to be your voice of business.