Changes to building code positive for forest industry

TRURO - A recent announcement the province of Nova Scotia will align its building code with the National Building code is positive news for the forest industry and the overall economy of the province, say area chambers.

“This is a positive change that has the potential to boost timber sales in this region while supporting the overall economy of the province,” says Alex Stevenson, President of the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce.  “At a recent carbon pricing discussion hosted by the Chamber, panel experts outlined how locally sourced timber used in construction can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the timbers store naturally captured carbon for the long term.”

The changes that came into effect April 1, allow for the maximum height of timber structures to increase from four to six storeys. The Fire Safety Act and Regulations will also be changed to enhance safety requ­irements for the tal­ler wood buildings.

This will offer flexibility to designers and developers in their choice of building products in structures up to six storeys, while promoting the broader use of wood which can be locally sourced, providing valuable employment and economic spinoffs while offering sustainable ‘green’ building solutions.

“Our sawmills are vital to the rural economy but they are often at the mercy of ever changing lumber markets in North America and off shore,” says Jack Kyte, Executive Director, Pictou County Chamber of Commerce. “The announced changes offer the opportunity to increase lumber sales right here in Nova Scotia and provide more stability for producers.”

Eight percent of the province’s annual wood harvest is done in Colchester County and nine per cent in Pictou County.

Nova Scotia forests cover four million hectares, or 75 per cent of the province. The forest industry provides 11,500 direct and indirect jobs to Nova Scotians, contributing an economic impact of $2.1 Billion and $800 million to the provincial GDP.

2017 Federal budget cautious with minimal positive impact for business

2017 Federal budget cautious with minimal positive impact for business

Photo caption: Greg Mosher of MNP reviews the 2017 federal budget during a luncheon on March 23.

TRURO- A wait-and-see approach of the Federal budget does little to support small business growth.

“From the perspective of our member businesses it appears the budget will have minimum impact,” said Alex Stevenson, President of the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce.

“Our Chamber shares the concerns of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which includes a need for government to reduce the cost of doing business in Canada and improve competitiveness.”

The March 22 budget offered new programs for enhanced skill and workplace development, however, there is concern these investments are partially funded by EI premiums set to increase in fiscal 2018-19 by five cents, up to $1.68 per $100 of insurable earnings.

“We welcome the focus on skills and innovation, but are less enthusiastic about an increase in EI premiums to partially fund skills training costs,” said the President.

The Chamber was pleased to see the federal government kept its pre-budget promise to avoid taxation of employee health benefits following a national campaign lobbying against that move.

Investment in trade-enabling infrastructure to boost productivity fell below Chamber expectations, an area Stevenson said the Chamber would like to see an enhanced focus. Those investments represent just 11 per cent of the total $120 billion in spending, with the remainder going toward green and social infrastructure.

“We also have concern regarding the deficit spending of $23 Billion in 2017 and $28.5 Billion by end of 2018. This will increase the overall debt and this in turn impacts our future.”

The Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce has been the voice of business in this region for 127 years. It represents more than 435 member businesses and advocates on their behalf at all levels of government on issues of political, economic and social importance.

Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce elects new officers

TRURO –  The Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated 127 years serving the business community at its annual general meeting held in Truro. A new slate of officers and directors was elected by the membership which will see Alex Stevenson of CIBC  step into the president’s seat.

Stevenson recognized the commitment to the organization of past-president Andrew Lake who served two consecutive terms.

“Over the past two years, his leadership, dedication, commitment and collaboration has raised the profile of the Chamber,” said Stevenson.  “ He has guided it to the successful completion of a number of key initiatives.”

He thanked Lake for his efforts to engage members and stakeholders and offering leadership in a strategic planning process,  “to help focus the chamber to maintain relevance and integrity through updated internal policies and strengthened board governance.”

“Going forward, my intention is to continue to build on the momentum we have created and continue to focus on the key initiatives that we have outlined in our 2017 Business Plan,” said newly elected president. “These initiatives include serving our membership, supporting tourism marketing efforts, advancing our economic development initiative, lobbying for transportation and infrastructure improvements, supporting youth retention, focusing on operational excellence, promoting investment and opportunities in information and communication technology and to work with all stakeholders to support a sustainable and prosperous business environment.

“We are also committed to establishing our Vision – where we see the Colchester business community as collaborative, connected and thriving.”

Other newly elected executives and directors are: Vice-President Dan Clarke, Stanfields; Treasurer Joanne McRae, MNP; Solicitor Heidi Walsh-Sampson, Patterson Law; and Directors Don Locke,  RBC; Dr. David Gray, Dean of Dalhousie Agricultural Campus; Karen Baillie,  Elegant Steps; Karen Gillespie, Nova Scotia Community College; Fran Grant, Remax/Fairlane Realty; Matt Robblee, Caldwell-Roach Insurance; Ron Smith,  Old Fletcher’s Farm Property Ltd., Masstown Market; Bob Brown E. Lynds Enterprises;  Nancy Johnstone, Lock and Stone Property Management; Peter Theisen P.T. Property Care; Connie Baird, Party Time Rentals and Sam Abushenaf, PuroClean Restorations.

Lake , Will-Kare Paving and Contracting, will remain on the board as past-president.

We are fortunate to have a board comprised of dedicated, progressive and engaged professionals who volunteer their time for the betterment of our business community,” said Stevenson.

Business Development Enterprise identifies board, sets priorities

TRURO -  A pilot project focused on business attraction and retention has taken a step forward with the selection of a business-led board.

The nine-person board was selected following a nomination process which saw many diverse individuals across the county express an interest in participating. Those chosen for the inaugural board are Jo Ann Fewer, Dr. David Gray, Stephanie Jones, Dianne Kelderman, Jennifer Hamilton-Upham, Bruce Casey, Mark Wood, Don Hay and Steve Johnston.

“We saw a tremendous response from the business community with so many high quality candidates,” said Truro Mayor Bill Mills. “Choosing who would be part of the initial board was difficult, however, we feel we have a diverse group that balances youth, experience and business backgrounds that bring skill and knowledge we need at the table.”

In the weeks ahead, the board will be tasked with preparing a budget, setting a strategic direction and identifying staffing needs to meet an anticipated launch of early spring.

“Our Councils recognize collaboration with the business community is key,” said Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair. “Who better than those in business to lead this initiative of growing our economy?  Their knowledge is crucial to our success.”

The business development enterprise, a combined effort of the Colchester region municipalities, Millbrook First Nation and the business community, will bring a focused approach to business attraction and retention in this area.

“Collectively, the funding partners, key stakeholders and the new board are excited and enthusiastic about the opportunities an identifiable regional business development organization offers the region,” said Andrew Lake, President of the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce.  “It will support existing and prospective business while being catalyst to job creation and population growth.”