News We're Following - April 26, 2013


Member Benefit Hightlight - April 26, 2013

Through your membership with the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce you are also a member of the Alberta and Canadian Chambers of Commerce who also offer great services and discount programs for your business to take advantage of. The Pacrim Participates program offers business and leisure travelers a guaranteed discount of 15% off the Best Available Rates on each of their 60 hotels across Canada and the USA. The discount applies regardless of season or location but not in combination with any other offers. With every guest room purchased Pacrim even makes a contribution to the Alberta Chambers of Commerce to support programs and initiatives. Click HERE for more information.


Member 2 Member Discount of the Week - April 29, 2013

Buy any pita and get double meat for half price!

 


Canadian Chamber announces Private Business Growth Award

The Private Business Growth Award, organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Grant Thorton LLP, seeks to recognize and celebrate dynamic, privately-held businesses whose growth strategy encompasses a broad range of activities across their business. Nominations for this award are open to Canadian-owned, privately-held businesses with annual revenues over $5 million. The deadline for nominations is August 30, 2013 and all submissions must be received by October 11, 2013. Finalists will be announced at the end of October. For more information regarding this opportunity please click HERE


Member News - ParkCity Toyota Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Congratulations to ParkCity Toyota for celebrating their 20th anniversary this past weekend. ParkCity Toyota has been a Chamber member since they bought the business in 1992 and have been tremendous supporters of our community. The dealership has marked great success in their 20 year history, expanding to a bigger facility and more recently being named the Number 1 Toyota dealership in Alberta based on customer satisfaction surveys. Congratulation to Jay and his team and make sure to visit ParkCity Toyota at their Strachan Road location to experience their superior customer service first hand.


Member News - Big Brothers Big Sisters names new Executive Director

Bob Bourke was announced as the new Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Medicine Hat. Congratulations to Bob on this new venture. To learn more about BBBS Medicine Hat and their local initiatives visit their website at www.bbbsmedhat.ca.


Member News - Downtown Dollars

The CCDA is proud to offer ‘Downtown Dollars’ available to use at any downtown business. Gift cards are available to purchase through the CCDA office or at Stone Furs and come in $10, $20 or $50 denominations. Visit the CCDA website for further information about this great promotion to help support your downtown businesses.

http://downtownmedicinehat.com/


Municipal Update - April 26, 2013

Following is an update on the important issues that we are working on as your "Voice of Business" in Medicine Hat.

 

Commercial Property Assessments:

In partnership with the Medicine Hat Coalition for Commercial Taxpayers and sponsored by the Medicine Hat News, we hosted an appeals workshop on Wednesday April 24th at 8:00 am and 7:00 pm to assist in understanding the timelines, the forms and the process of appeals. In follow up, we wanted to ensure all our members received the information, even if you were unable to attend.

·       The appeal workshop presentation can be viewed here

·       Information on appealing your assessment, including grounds for complaints, fees and disclosure is located on the City’s website here

·       A Guide to filing your property assessment complaint and preparing for your hearing can be found here

·       Access to Property Assessment Information can be found here

·       Is your assessment Fair and Accurate? Find out here

·       The forms you need to know about:

o   Assessment Review Board Complaint

o   Assessment Complaints Agent Authorization

o   Compliance Review Form

More information on assessments can be located on the Municipal Affairs website at: http://www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca/mc_assessment_complaints_and_appeals.cfm

What to do:

NOW: Talk to your assessor and request information on your property

May 6th: File your complaint (appeal). The form must be filled out in full and accompanied by the appropriate fee (the Board must not hear any matter not indicated on the form, and must not hear any appeal without receipt of the fee at the time of the appeal submission). The deadline for appeals is May 6 at 4.30pm at the City Clerk’s office (if you have not received a formal reassessment notice from the City). The Board must not hear any appeals submitted beyond the deadline.

Within 30 days of the appeal submission, the appellant or agent for the appellant will receive a letter scheduling the appeal hearing date, time, and location, and deadlines for disclosure of evidence. The Board must not hear any evidence disclosed past the deadline or new evidence at the hearing.

We have also heard concerns regarding disclosure of information and inability to access information. We need you to send us your documented experiences, as we are compiling a complaint file. Additionally you can also fill out the compliance review form, as linked above if you feel that the department was in breach of section 299 (Access to Assessment Record) or 300 (Access to Summary of Assessment) of the Municipal Government Act. We need to ensure an open, fair and transparent process. We encourage you to send us your feedback and concerns to [email protected] with the subject line: Commercial Property Tax. Additionally, if you would like to be included in the Coalition for Commercial Property Taxpayers distribution list, please email us at [email protected] and we will be sure to forward your contact information on.


Land Use Bylaw:

The Draft Land Use Bylaw was presented to the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) on April 24th, at which time the Chamber of Commerce presented our updated recommendations. We previously submitted recommendations on the 4th draft of the bylaw in two separate policies regarding the Land Use bylaw as a whole and the Sign Regulations more specifically. Overall we are pleased with the new draft bylaw, but have proposed that the bylaw go back for further amendments with the recommendations that the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders made at the April 24th meeting. Our hopes are that these amendments will be included and brought forward to the next MPC meeting on May 8th. Our full list of recent recommendations can be viewed online here.

Our previously submitted policies are also available to view in our policy book online.

You still have an opportunity to review the document online at http://www.medicinehat.ca/index.aspx?page=884. If there is any additional feedback, please send this to [email protected] with the subject line: Land Use Bylaw.

We want to thank the City for their open consultation and inclusion in this process and for placing less emphasis on subjective matters of the bylaw and more emphasis on the specifics related to planning, building and safety.

Offsite Levy Bylaw:

The offsite levy bylaw will be discussed again at the Development and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday, May 8th at 12:00 pm at City Hall. We encourage any members who are interested and able to attend to join us in your support of the stakeholders and our recommendations. These levies will have a significant impact on the future growth and development of our City. Background on the levies can be found here: Offsite Levy Presentation; Our policy and recommendations can be viewed here.

If you have any additional input, comments or recommendations, please email us at [email protected] with the subject line: Offsite Levy Bylaw


Roadway Systems Master Plan:

The Roadway Systems Master Plan was presented to the Development & Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday, April 24th and is proposed to be adopted by Council on Monday, May 6th. There were concerns regarding the Roadway Systems Master Plan and the implications to the industrial areas as it pertains to the configuration of Highway 1. We have submitted the feedback we've received from our members thus far and have received documented and included assurance that concerns regarding access to the Red Deer Drive and Red Cliff Drive businesses will be addressed, as well as a phased in and monitored approach to the TransCanada improvement plans. This includes:

·       1st Street SW - access/egress modifications

·       Service road connection between 1st Street SW and 6th/7th Street area

·       Right in/Right out access from service roads into business areas

·       Advocacy to Alberta Transportation for signage allowances along the TransCanada for business areas affected by improvement plans

·       TransCanada Highway phasing improvements plan

The documents presented at the April 24th meeting can be found online as below with the full Agenda of the meeting located here:

·         Roadway Systems Master Plan: Road network Plan Update

·         Assessment of Alberta Transportation Highway 1 and 3 Proposed Improvements

·         South West Connector Route Options

·         Public Consultation Documentation

If you have any other comments you would like us to have noted prior to this document coming forward to Council, please email us at [email protected] with the subject line: Roadway Systems Master Plan.


Medicine Hat College Survey:

The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce participated in a Medicine Hat College Survey, which included an analysis of some skills training gaps and potential future opportunities for the College. We would like to extend the invitation to participate in this online market research survey, as a direct recipient from the business community of graduates from the College and a potential interest group, to provide input and insight into future training opportunities at the College. This survey helps the college understand how its programs can better serve the needs of the business community and employers in southeast Alberta. If you have already received this survey link accept our thanks for your participation. This is your opportunity to provide feedback on any gaps and opportunities. Please start with the survey now by clicking on the link below. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MedicineHatCollege_OnlineSurvey

Millier Dickinson Blais Inc. is working for Medicine Hat College to complete this research. If you have questions about the survey, please Sara Sarah Lewis, Senior Development Analyst at (403)669-9351. The deadline for completion is Friday afternoon.


Federal and Provincial Policy Updates - Apr 26, 2013

The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce has been actively working on a number of municipal issues to help benefit our local business community (click here to view the municipal update blog post) however we are also working on a provincial and federal level advocating for change that affects our local business climate.

Federal

In 2010 our Chamber co-sponsored a Red Deer policy titled Common-Sense Approach to Livestock Product Identification and Food Safety, which was adopted at a provincial level and subsequently adopted at a federal level through the Canadian Chambers of Commerce as well. The policy identifies the protectionist nature of the United States implemented Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) which constitutes a technical barrier to trade within the beef and hog industry and is deemed inconsistent with international trade rules, including those laid out in the NAFTA and the WTO. COOL legislation adds huge implementation and enforcement costs throughout the supply chain and these additional costs are being levied against Canadian producers in the form of huge price discounts applicable to livestock exported into the U.S. The policy recommends that the Government of Canada work collaboratively with Canadian industry to apply the utmost pressure, on a continuous basis, through the NAFTA and the WTO until such time that the U.S eliminates the protectionist aspects of its COOL legislation. In December of 2012 the Government of Canada secured a ruling from the WTO requiring the U.S to bring certain Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements into compliance by May 23, 2013, and in April 2013 Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz advocated for measures to bring the U.S into compliance with the WTO ruling on COOL requirements, during his trade mission to the U.S, and threatened extensive retaliatory measures should the U.S not achieve compliance by May 23, 2013. View page 89 of our policy book to read the entire policy, and click HERE to view the News Release by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Provincial

Temporary Foreign Workers: With the topic of temporary foreign workers garnering national media coverage, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC) wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to underscore the importance of the program to sustaining our province’s economy. In the letter, the ACC points out that the Temporary Foreign Workers Program is easily misunderstood, especially in regions of high unemployment. It is, however, greatly valued in a province like Alberta which is chronically short of workers. View page 77 and 127 of our policy book to read the two policies the Medicine Hat Chamber advocates for regarding Temporary Foreign Workers and click HERE to view the letter submitted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.


Invoice & Telemarketing Fraud

Periodically, businesses contact us to let the membership know about scams or fraudulent activities circulating that affect businesses in the area.

We recently were alerted to one involving a light bulb company from Ontario that shipped a box of florescent lightbulbs to a local company through a well known courier service.  After the product was accepted, they realized there was no purchase order for the product, and subsequently received a very inflated invoice via fax shortly after.

This, unfortunately, is not a new scam - Typically they involve products needing constant replacement such as office supplies (paper, ink or toner) and maintenance supplies (light bulbs, cleaning compounds).  After signing to accept the package, the business discovers that the product was never ordered which results in a large freight charge back to the originating company, in addition to a hefty restocking fee for a product that was never even ordered.

For more information on how to protect your company from fraud, please visit the Government of Canada's Competition Bureau website on Fraud Awareness for Commercial targets. 

Please cascade to staff as you see fit.


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