Mayor Derek Corrigan and Burnaby councillors overcame their issues with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business to listen and provide input during a presentation on Small Business Saturday - for the most part.
Shachi Kurl, director of provincial affairs for B.C. and Yukon for the federation, attended the Monday night council meeting as a delegation and spoke about the initiative, which takes place this weekend.
It was the first time Kurl had appeared before Burnaby council, though the federation and the city have had correspondence back and forth. Burnaby council strongly objects to the federation's positions on municipal spending and business property taxes - the federation releases an annual Municipal Spending Watch report and holds a position that business property taxes are too high.
Kurl asked council to support the initiative, aimed at getting Canadians to shop at and support small businesses on Oct. 20.
The majority of the federation's member businesses have fewer than five staff members, and small businesses contribute a third of B.C.'s gross domestic product, Kurl said.
Small businesses in British Columbia have been affected by recent issues such as the introduction of harmonized sales tax and the plan to revert to the goods and services and provincial sales taxes, property taxes, increased labour costs and global uncertainty, she said.
Corrigan thanked Kurl for appearing before council and said the city is well aware of the issues facing business owners.
"It really is a perfect storm for small businesses," he said.
The city also recognizes the contribution of small business owners to the city, he added.
"We know it is the lifeblood of the community," he said.
Coun. Nick Volkow went on the offensive with Kurl, questioning her on the federation's politics and asking how she could call an organization that supports Conservative policies "non-partisan".
He asked about the federation's stance on cross-border shopping and sovereign debt loans, and questioned what the organization was doing to help Canadian businesses affected by those factors.
"Where we can support our membership without rewriting trade laws, we do that," Kurl responded.
But the rest of the presentation went smoothly.
Coun. Pietro Calendino pointed out that shopping at local small businesses, as he does in the Burnaby Heights area, often results in taking home less packaging and reducing waste.
Councillors Dan Johnston and Anne Kang had questions about the cost for businesses of converting to the HST, and of reverting back to the GST and PST system.
Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said the city wants to support businesses and asked that the federation consider the reasons behind business property tax increases before judging cities too harshly for implementing them.
"You should see us as your allies," he said. "The last thing we want is to be hurtful to businesses out there."
The federation takes its positions on issues from its members, Kurl said, but added she does acknowledge downloading of costs from other levels of government affects municipal property taxes.
"You make a good point about the why around it," she said.
The city only receives $1 for every $10 of property taxes collected, Corrigan said.
But he added that the city also has to be open to constructive criticism from organizations such as the federation.