Business Walk 2020 - Mayor and Council ANSWER the QUESTIONS from Mission Chamber Members
One of the strengths of the Chamber Network is our ability to bring the top-of-mind issues from businesses to the attention of all levels of government. We advocate on behalf of all businesses and organizations.
Business Walk is a business retention and expansion program designed to connect and identify with businesses in the community. This annual survey identifies what is on the minds of Mission businesses. Traditionally these efforts are done through focus groups and in-person visits.
In 2020 the Chamber created a survey in lieu of business visits. One of the questions read "What is one question you would like to ask the Mayor and Council".
The responses can be found below. Starting June 29th - August 4th a campaign will run with new responses to questions being posted. As of August 4th, all questions will have the answer posted in this forum.
NOTE: The top 7 questions were submitted to Council in the format they were received through the survey. A few questions were very similar so they were combined for this purpose.
• In partnership with other business associations in Mission, we developed the I Love Mission campaign, which extends fully to the end of 2020.
• The District registered for the fast track patio expansion process with Liquor Control Board.
• We continue to coordinate with business associations to showcase/feature local businesses.
• A COVID-19 Recovery Task Group was formed, led by the Mission Fire Rescue Service, to help address the needs identified by the business community and our local NPOs. (e.g. lack of availability of hand sanitizer, the need for patio expansion, etc.) The Chamber has representation on this Task Group.
• If a second wave comes, we will look at taking advantage of new authorities given to us by the Province – things like further delayed utility payments and delayed payment of property taxes.
• With regard to building permits, the primary reason is the incompleteness of applications which causes an inordinate amount of back and forth between applicants and staff. Approximately 75% of applications are missing key information. A new process, wherein the District only accepts complete applications, is resulting in improved processing times but full effectiveness will not be realized until the backlog of incomplete applications is dealt with. A dedicated Plan Checker was hired in early 2020 and additional auxiliary staff/consultants are being retained to deal with the backlog.
• The District will be updating and creating new communications materials for the public and building community to clearly outline the new expectations and processes. These will be published in both English and Punjabi.
• With regard to development applications, the District has reviewed its processes with the Development Liaison Committee. Going forward, the rezoning and subdivision processes will be separated to reduce the upfront expense for developers in completing what is mostly technical information required for subdivisions. This should lead to quicker decision-making for Council and more certainty for developers before they are required to spend considerable time and expense developing technical documentation.
As we complete the current phase of work that incorporated land owner engagement, stakeholder consultation, technical assessments and business modeling, the District will be considering a number of important decisions in August and September associated with the next phase of the Waterfront Revitalization Initiative. These decisions will consider an OCP Amending Bylaw to create the Waterfront Comprehensive Planning Area, the formation of a development corporation to deliver on master planning and pre-development work, and partnership development with senior levels of government, First Nations and other important stakeholders. Additionally, a significant public communications effort will begin to help the community better understand the progress, revitalization potential, and next steps to achieve waterfront revitalization. We have come further than any Council before us which is significant as we identified early on in our strategic planning process that bold economic steps would be required to realize our vision. Please tune in to our August 17, 2020 Regular Council meeting as we will be receiving the latest update on the Waterfront Revitalization Initiative from our Director of Economic Development.
Yes. We support this work and recognize it as a core function of the Mission Regional
Chamber of Commerce. We are very much open to suggestions! You are the experts
in this arena and we value your leadership.
• promotes legitimacy: required by other parties (insurance, financing);
• provides the District with a chance to manage businesses (e.g. deal with non-
compliant businesses to ensure level playing field);
• assures business owners that they are compliant with zoning regulations;
• results in regular fire inspections and ensures that essential safety issues are
• ensures fairness and that each business operates within the rules and guidelines
set by the District. (As a local government, we must set these rules and regulations
to assure the District does not ‘assist’ any one business over another.); and
• provides important industry and employment data to help identify employment trends
and shape policy development to improve employment services program
The District is nearing completion of a new Employment Lands Strategy (September
public release) that will assess our commercial and industrial land area and density of
use, growth of employment sectors and labour force, impact of population growth (local
& regional) on employment demand by sector, and current job to labour force ratio.
This data, along with broader economic analysis, will determine future labour force
scenarios and job targets for Mission. While a new target will be developed to address
the desired ratio of commercial to residential taxation, it is worth noting that because
residential is increasing so quickly, the ratio may not change dramatically. What may
be a more relevant metric is the net increase/percentage increase in new commercial
taxation on a go-forward year-over-year basis.
Overall? Downtown? The Employment Lands Strategy will afford the District the opportunity to develop new business retention, expansion and attraction policies that support new business activity in Mission. As an example, Mission has a shortage of industrial lands, so policies encouraging higher utilization of historical industrial lands and the creation of new industrial lands would be a good start. Also, policy that supports infrastructure improvements required to efficiently move goods is also important.
• The District just expanded the Downtown Development Incentive Boundary to offer tax and other incentives to new or refurbished buildings.
• We continue to value downtown as the historic heart of Mission. Maintaining and improving upon historic buildings can be challenging financially, yet we believe in the importance of maintaining the look, feel and character of the downtown core. Preserving those values is important to the community and is why we have continued
to support the downtown incentive program. On expanding the boundary, the principle of densification and the utilization of existing infrastructure is an efficient way to encourage higher and more productive use of underutilized property with the added benefit of access to transit, more affordable housing options and proximity to a walkable neighborhood. Encouraging development in our historical commercial core creates additional opportunity for renewal and densification that allows us to take advantage of these existing assets, while also creating a stronger residential presence to support local merchants.
• We have just begun the process of neighbourhood planning in South West Mission which is hugely significant in our community. This will double the population of Mission and will, in turn, provide new opportunities for the commercial sector. We also are seeing major growth in other areas of Mission which will spur on more commercial development in areas that have been lacking, in particular in Cedar Valley. We have completed the Cedar Valley Local Area Plan which has provided certainty for the development community. • We are close to signing an historic agreement with Leq' a: mel, Matsqui, and Sq'éwlets (Scowlitz) First Nations, ensuring the preservation of green space in our community which is essential as we grow.
• Quality of life is extremely important to us. The higher we rank with respect to public safety and recreational opportunities etc., the better able we will be to attract businesses to the community.
• We have invested in public transit and have scheduled service in the next funding allotment to include a stop at the industrial area off of Nelson Street.
• We have improved relationships with all levels of government. In particular, we have been working with the Ministry of Transportation as they consider designs for a future bypass and, in the short term, explore interim solutions for diverting truck traffic off of First Avenue.