As we approach the end of the year, many in our community will begin to look forward to the festive holiday season and dream about what Santa might leave for them on Christmas morning.
Our business community is no different.
So, in the spirit of the holidays, for this month’s column I wanted to share with you my Business Christmas list – the things I’d like to see under the tree for our business community:
First, I really hope Santa brings our business community more workers. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about the difficulties businesses of all sizes and in all sectors are having filling positions.
This labour crunch is holding back business growth and stopping companies from expanding.
And businesses now have to contend with a new, frustrating phenomenon: “ghosting” by employees and candidates. Because of the labour shortage, businesses are now being faced with people who suddenly don’t show up for their shift, candidates who don’t turn up for scheduled interviews, and employees who simply disappear. While businesses are doing everything they can to make themselves attractive and competitive for labour, they need support to find, develop and source more talent.
Next, I’ll be thrilled to unwrap a little property tax relief for local businesses. The provincial government can make a lot of businesses merry by changing how property value is assessed in this province, and stopping the ridiculous policy of “highest and best use.” This practice sees property owners taxed on the value of what their building could be redeveloped into, and not what it actually is used for today. This policy is leading some businesses located in transit corridors or in areas being rezoned for development to face astronomical property taxes, driving some to move out of Burnaby or to close-up shop altogether. This practice needs to be changed, and I think only a Grinch would not agree.
I’m also crossing my fingers for more investments and supports from all levels of government on transportation and transit.
As our region continues to grow, we need to invest in public transit with a priority on allowing more people to commute on transit and leave their cars at home. Not only will this make it easier for employees to get to work from wherever they are in the region, it will help alleviate the bottlenecks on our roads and bridges during peak weekday periods, providing quicker and more reliable transportation of goods and services by businesses.
After all, businesses often have no choice but to use the roads - the plumber coming to fix your pipes or the trucker delivering stock to your favourite store can’t really take the bus.
Lastly, a special gift for me this year would be a greater appreciation of the hard work it takes to be a business owner today. In our public discourse we often hear comments that businesses need to “pay their fair share” and I can attest that business owners today are carrying a heavy burden.
For most businesses, especially our small- to medium-sized local companies, they work hard every day to provide a quality product or service at a fair price so that they can make payroll, support their employees, and grow their business.
On behalf of the Burnaby Board of Trade, I’d like to wish everyone the very best of the season and a safe, prosperous and happy holiday season.
Paul Holden is president and CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade.