Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 2016 CAMRA BC Executive has wrapped up and has prepared to transition for the incoming 2017 Executive board. What a year it’s been!
First: after a few years being involved with CAMRA in multiple roles, it is time for me to look to the future and pursue my career aspirations within the industry and outside of the organization. This means that this is the eve of the last day of my term as President of CAMRA BC.
I’ve decided not to run again for a second year as the head of our organization in order to take the next steps in my career, both in the craft beer and political sectors. Being a member of the BC Executive is an important – and time consuming – labour of love; one that I feel I cannot commit the appropriate amount of time to for another year that it (and you) deserve. While this decision comes from a place of sobering and honest sadness, I feel that it is for the right reasons that I complete my term on a high note and make room for the future BC board to take the wheel and steer the organization towards the future.
In the last year, we’ve seen our BC craft beer ecosystem evolve and manifest into a booming tour de force in its’ own right: we have well-developed and high quality beers being released on a regular basis, world class beers that compete against legendary recipes found elsewhere, and continued representation of imported beers finding their way to our shelves. Legal frameworks around homebrew competitions and events, as well as beer gardens have seen meaningful progress. These are great things, and as a consumer, being overwhelmed and unable to keep up with constant and multiple top-tier releases has become a problem that most of us are entirely okay with having.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t any other challenges to overcome, however. There are still glaring and abhorrent issues with many of our provincial laws around ABV taxation, protection for macro beer conglomerates being permitted by the Province of British Columbia, the BC LDB, and by extension the BC Craft Brewers Guild to sabotage retail sales of local craft beer at private liquor stores, and a wholesale pricing platform touted to “level the playing field” that effectively destroys the profit margins that allow private liquor stores to compete as a small business in our province.
CAMRA BC, as a 29 year old entity, has faced something of an identity crisis in the last few years: in many ways, pure advocacy has taken a backseat to being a de facto “beer club”, with many members interested purely in things like events and member benefits instead of our mission statement. While promoting, educating and enjoying are all core tenets of our Society, the fourth – and perhaps, most important – tenet has always been “advocating” on behalf of consumers. I believe we haven’t pushed this as hard as we could (or should).
2017 will serve as the year that defines the future of our organization. If advocacy does not fully become the core focus of our efforts, we will irreparably compromise our effectiveness as a champion of change and fairness. This is going to take drastic changes in the way we operate both internally and externally. It involves all branches rallying their constituents and consistently – and aggressively – driving the advocacy mandates that are developed and directed by the CAMRA BC board. We have members in all areas of British Columbia – some of which happen to reside in Minister Coralee Oakes’ own riding – that can demand to meet with their Members of Parliament and have their voices heard. I firmly believe CAMRA would do well do pursue this in a meaningful way.
Since assuming the role of President early in 2016, I have abided by a two-year plan I’d built out at the time of my introduction. Year One has been about getting our house in order internally, establishing / rebuilding key relationships, and identifying major advocacy campaign opportunities.
Year Two is upon us, and, if we follow this plan, it means launching coordinated and public campaigns against the parties responsible for hindering (and in some cases, outright preventing) a balanced and fair craft beer landscape in British Columbia, working from research conducted in 2016.
If there is one truly revelatory thing I have realized in the last two years, it is this: “consumer advocacy” is not something to be segregated into its’ own subsection. In fact, the type of advocacy that fights on behalf of licensees, retailers, and brewers impacts consumers whether directly or indirectly. I would hope that the future CAMRA BC board recognizes this and reconsiders what defines our mandate by way of officially expanding our focus beyond the consumer and working with these parties to enrich our beer industry. Ultimately, what is good for brewers is good for consumers. What helps private liquors stores to innovate and operate is good for consumers. We oughtn’t ignore these. There are other groups that focus on these individual interests, and perhaps that was at some point a useful model. It certainly isn’t anymore: these groups – CAMRA BC included – stand to benefit immensely by the collaboration and alignment of all of these individual entities. Current fragmentation of these interests hinders progress for *all* of us.
I want to thank the 2016 CAMRA BC and branch Executive teams for their incredibly hard work and commitment to something we all feel very strongly about. At the end of the day, this is a non-profit, 100% volunteer-run organization that asks a great deal of its’ leadership in order to operate. It is not lost on me the amount of time and energy you’ve invested in making a difference. Know that I am deeply grateful.
Going forward, I will be advocating as a private citizen. This means I will be able to more directly work with breweries, retailers and other parties to effect change in different and more concentrated ways. Expect to hear more about this via social media and news outlets in the near future.
As our nominations deadline came to a close with four new candidates being the only nominations received, these individuals will be elected by acclimation at the AGM:
President: Paddy Treavor
Vice President: Martin Williams
Secretary: Glen Stusek
Treasurer: Dave Garton
Some of you may recognize these names. This team represents an enormous trove of experience and history within our community. I am confident that if anyone can course-correct our organization and drive honest-to-goodness change, it is this incoming team.
Onward and upward, as goes the adage. It has been my honour and privilege to serve as your President in the last year. I look forward to working towards a bright future for craft beer in British Columbia. Get involved, show your support and make your voice heard.
We’re in this together.