The St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce swore in a new chair and vice chair on Jan. 14 during an event held at the St. Albert Inn and Suites.
Brian Bachynski, publisher of the St. Albert Gazette and vice president of publishing for Great West Newspapers Limited Partnership, was named chair for 2017-18.
The Chamber acts as a non-partisan voice for business and industry and advocates on behalf of nearly 1,000 members.
Among the new chair’s priorities are advocating for the growth of the Villeneuve airport, the expansion of LRT to St. Albert and the twinning of Ray Gibbon Drive.
Bachynski said the latter is not only critical to easing the transport of goods and services to and from northern Alberta, but to developing the city’s Employment Lands, which will one day house an industrial business park north of Big Lake.
“Once that road gets twinned, obviously it increases the chances significantly of development on the Employment Lands, which increases St. Albert’s industrial tax base and helps us get closer to that 80/20 (non-residential and residential tax) split,” said Bachynski in an interview.
Ray Gibbon is often heavily congested. Twinning it would make the Employment Lands much more attractive to potential investors and would help encourage overall investment in St. Albert’s west.
The project is currently fifth on the Capital Region Board’s list of priorities.
Now that council is going ahead with Project 9, Bachynski said he will work closely with developers and businesses in the west of the city to “move the needle” on what could be a potential catalyst for industrial and commercial development in St. Albert’s west. Project 9 is a major sanitary sewer line needed to support growth within St. Albert.
“I don’t expect a fast economic recovery. In fact, recovery could be painfully slow, but as it happens, there will be pressures,” said Bachynski. “Getting Ray Gibbon Drive twinned, for example, will become that much more paramount as economic activity picks up. Our chamber has an advocacy role to play here.”
The Chamber will also continue to lobby the provincial government on its plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018, as well as the newly introduced carbon tax, which Bachynski described as a simple wealth transfer.
“We’re hopeful that we can still try to influence the government on perhaps lowering that $15 cap,” said Bachynski.
A journalist by trade, Bachynski began his career at the Calgary Sun in 1990, working as a copy runner. He worked his way up to general assignment reporter before moving to Barrhead in 1992 to write sports. He soon became the editor of The Barrhead Leader.
Bachynski has been with Great West Publishing for the past 21 years. Prior to becoming vice president of publishing in 2008, he was general manager of a chain of papers in Athabasca, Barrhead, Westlock and Lac La Biche.
Jodie McFadzen was sworn in as first vice chair Saturday. She owns Penzen Ltd., a construction support services and bookkeeping business. Mark Stoneleigh, St. Albert branch manager at ATB Tudor Glen, became second vice chair and Ken Macrae will now serve as the 2016 past chair.
As the board of directors undergoes a change, so does the Chamber’s leadership.
Lynda Moffat is officially retired after serving as president and CEO for the past decade. Jennifer McCurdy, who has worked for the Chamber for nine-and-a-half years, replaces her.