May is a busy month at the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce as we deliver our third annual May Membership Month promotion – a recruiting campaign aimed at growing our membership. The month is jam-packed with events and special promotions, all focused on welcoming new members and celebrating existing ones. 

Later this month, the Chamber will attend the BC Chamber of Commerce’s AGM in Burnaby. This is the largest annual business policy-building forum in the province and an excellent opportunity to have our region’s voice heard at the provincial level.

A first for the Chamber: We will be submitting and partnering on three policies at the BC Chamber AGM. The first submission is from the four Cowichan Chambers: Duncan Cowichan, Chemainus, Lake Cowichan and Ladysmith regarding WorkSafe BC’s overfunding of $6.4 Billion. We are recommending that overfunding should be reduced by returning a portion to employers who pay into the fund, and that WorkSafe BC create a reasonable funded ratio and create a rebate policy that triggers an automatic refund to employers when WorkSafe BC surplus exceeds the fair funding level.

Our second submission is partnered with 17 island Chambers on a Thriving Orcas, Thriving Coastal Communities initiative to provide a balanced approach to protecting the Southern Residence Killer Whales while supporting the tidal recreational fishery on the west coast of BC. Our last policy is in support of BC’s land based wineries, cideries and distilleries with a recommendation to provide recognizable and measurable tax relief that offset the difference between Class 6 Business and Class 5 Light Industry assessments, and to undertake a planning process to encourage expansion and development of the wine, cideries and distilleries agri-tourism sector in BC.

We will also be supporting a policy that is of interest to our local distilleries: Support of a Federal Excise Tax review for distilled spirits, as the Federal Excise Duty on alcohol is applied in an unbalanced manner that puts small distilleries at a distinct disadvantage both amongst wineries and breweries in Canada, which pay none or little excise duty on the alcohol they produce, and amongst foreign distilleries that operate in lower cost/tax environments.

The Chamber is also asking our members and Cowichan businesses to join BC Chamber’s MindReader Platform. This is a cloud-based platform that gathers real-time information by engaging BC’s businesses through focused questions. The BC Chamber can then use this cold hard data to provide government with critical insights and solutions. This is yet another opportunity to have Cowichan’s voice heard and to make a difference on key issues in our region and the province.

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We welcome a diverse group of businesses and organizations to the Chamber: Premier Self Storage, Ecochic Design, Vancouver Island Labour Services, Station Street Tattoo, Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, Mill Bay Waterworks District, Warmland Restorative Justice Society, Paul Gala Real Estate, West Coast Driver Training and Education, Helpforme Personal Legal Services, Tutor Pro, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society, Kaiser and Associates, Madrone Environmental, UniFirst Canada, SPIRO Creative and Pathfinder Dog Adventures.

Sonja Nagel is Executive Director of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce.  She can be reached at 250-748-1111 or