SKILLED worker shortages, transportation issues and housing affordability are all top of mind for the new president of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, who took the reins this week.
Louise Ranger, 47, is returning to North Vancouver from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, which she led for two and a half years. She replaces outgoing president Anne McMullin who has moved on to the Urban Development Institute.
Ranger's resume includes stints at the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and TeeKay Shipping as well as human resources consulting. She holds a business degree from SFU and a human resources certificate from BCIT. Originally from Australia, Ranger moved to Vancouver with her family when she was nine and to North Vancouver when she was in her teens.
Working at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce introduced Ranger to political lobbying as she tackled the problem of worker shortages in resorts.
"I learned a lot about the process of advocacy and how to go about making change within legislation, through the parliamentary process," said Ranger.
Ski hills were relying on young people from Australia, the U.K. and South Africa to fill seasonal jobs, but were hobbled by the brief one-year length of working holiday visas.
"That was never really enough time to train an employee, have that employee work and allow that person to travel and enjoy the country," said Ranger. Through lobbying efforts that went all the way to the prime minister of Canada and the president of Australia, the rules were changed to allow for two-year visas.
Ranger is looking forward to tackling North Vancouver's business issues, such as the shipbuilding contract awarded to Seaspan Marine.
"That project is massive and will have a huge implication on transportation," said Ranger. "Perhaps there will be some investments that will need to be made for improving roads, employee shortages or skills shortages."
The transition away from the HST back to the provincial sales tax is another upcoming issue Ranger expects many North Vancouver companies, especially small businesses, may need help dealing with.
Ranger said she is looking forward to the "opportunity to meet so many different business leaders and make a difference for the community in so many ways, not just for the business community but for the community as a whole."