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With the municipal election coming up on May 9th, I have been thinking a lot about the important relationship between chamber of commerces and local governments. The overall health of a community correlates directly with the state of its economic ecosystem and the success of its local businesses. A supportive and robust business environment allows a city to grow and provide the services that citizens expect and deserve. With nearly 950 members, the majority of which are small businesses with deep ties to the city, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce represents both a large swath of the local business community as well as its citizenry. By advocating for its members, the chamber, by extension, is advocating for the community. This concept is captured in the chamber’s vision: “Community Prosperity Through Business”.

The Chamber and the City of Fredericton have a long history of working together on our many mutually beneficial goals. A look back at documents from the early 20th century reveals that the City government has had a close relationship with the chamber since at least that time, with Mayor W.S. Hooper serving on our “Executive Council”. This historical involvement illustrates the substantial alignment between the two organizations’ mandates and the importance of continuing to work together in 2016 and beyond.

This week, our Municipal Government Affairs Committee sent all candidates for municipal question the same set of six questions ­ our “Questions That Count for 2016”. We’ve asked the candidates to respond by April 24th. We will share all of the responses received on our website at www.frederictonchamber.ca.  The questions asked are:

  1. What specific policy decisions should the City of Fredericton make to support local businesses and economic development? Can you identify a key issue you might champion as a means to do that?
  2. What infrastructure initiatives should the city target for its next infrastructure investments?
  3. How can you make green initiatives economically viable for the City?
  4. What specific initiatives could Fredericton City Council initiate to retain a higher proportion of post­secondary students, immigrants and other newcomers?
  5. Property tax bills in Fredericton have increased steadily over the years due to increased assessments, yet in recent years property sale prices have fluctuated from year to year. What should be done to ensure tax fairness and ensure residents are getting the best value possible? How much do you think has urban sprawl contributed to this issue and what can be done to ensure all users of City services pay their fair share?
  6. What is the role of Fredericton City Council from your perspective? What unique mindset, attributes or expertise would you bring to council?

I encourage all citizens to educate themselves on the candidates in their respective wards and beyond. Check out the responses to our Questions That Count and ask your own. There is contact information for all candidates on the Elections New Brunswick website ­ reach out, I’m sure candidates would love to connect!

In addition to these Questions That Count for council candidates, we are also planning an mayoral debate in partnership with RogersTV and Brunswick News. Both candidates, Brad Woodside and Mike O’Brien, have agreed to participate and we encourage the community to attend or catch the debate on Rogers. With both being veterans of municipal government, we expect a great debate on issues that matter to our community.  The date and time have not been confirmed but watch our social media for updates!

Finally, a big ‘thank you’ to everyone that has stepped forward to be a candidate in this election. Your passion for our community is appreciated and we look forward to working with the 2016­2020 council and mayor.

Krista Ross is CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. With more than 950 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment.