File photo South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Ritu Khanna and White Rock BIA executive director Alex Nixon and their organizations collaborated to present all-candidates meetings during the civic election campaign.

Businesses ready to work with new councils

Chamber and BIA executive directors stress need for regular communication

It’s business as usual – as far as the directors of the two Peninsula-based business organizations are concerned – in the wake of this month’s civic election.

Ritu Khanna, executive director of the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce, and Alex Nixon, executive director of the White Rock Business Improvement Association, said they will be reaching out to White Rock mayor-elect Darryl Walker and his council and (in Khanna’s case) Surrey mayor-elect Doug McCallum and his council to open what they hope will be regular conversation with civic leaders.

“It’s really important that we do reach out to them early on,” Khanna said last week, “so that the business community doesn’t get forgotten.”

Khanna said Surrey’s new leadership needs to counter a perception that the south end of Surrey is often overlooked.

“There’s a general feeling that this community gets forgotten by the city, not just for businesses, but also in terms of infrastructure and roadwork,” she said.

In White Rock, too, the chamber must be proactive in meeting with city leaders and staff on a regular basis, she said.

“What we’re hearing is the issue of improving communication to businesses in terms of permits and development,” she said.

“Businesses need to know how they are going to be affected by roadwork and re-development, and how that is going to be mitigated.”

The chamber and BIA teamed to host all-candidates meetings and debates for both communities during the election campaign.

Nixon said the BIA is “looking forward to engaging with the new mayor and council in White Rock.”

“We’ve already had some good conversations with some of them. The BIA will continue to advocate on behalf of businesses to make sure their needs and concerns are known.”

Although the results of both elections represented an upset for the previous majority slates, neither Nixon or Khanna said they felt this would impede their ability to do their work.

“The important message is that the people have voted,” Khanna said. “Now, we have to… really work together. We have an incredible area that is very diverse – and it has great potential. And it’s also really important that we maintain a good relationship with the (Semiahmoo) First Nation community as well.”

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