In the past few months, I’ve been developing a platform for a roundtable coalition meant to bring together a number of alcohol-related interest groups in our province. Though these groups have varying interests and mandates – a number of which may conflict with those of the others – there are some that are universally aligned. There are a few objectives: First: identify and build out common interests that improve BC’s liquor laws to serve the interest of consumer, retailer and brewer alike. Second: leverage our collective memberships and approach the LDB and provincial government together.
The challenge? Getting everyone together. It is going to take convincing other alcohol-related organizations to set disparity aside and come to the table. We’re working on it, but it’s slow-going – partly due to the bandwidth of all parties involved. Stay tuned.
On that note, I am also keenly focused on the recent decision by the Alberta government to dramatically increase taxes on BC craft beer sold in their province. Why does this pertain to CAMRA BC, as a consumer advocacy group? If sales of our breweries’ products are hindered, so too is the revenue (and therefore success) of our locals. Stress on our local breweries affects you, the consumer. I intend on discussing this with our CAMRA Alberta counterparts and hope to leverage the presence we have in both provinces to lobby against this change together.
I also want to address what we’ve identified as a major pain point in our organization. Running our branches – and the initiatives they drive – is extremely time-intensive. A number of projects move at frustratingly slow paces, almost entirely because we are already overencumbered.
In short, we need help from our members – in a big way.
CAMRA BC – and its’ branches – have plenty of initiatives we wish to pursue, but lack the volunteer power to see it through. It simply isn’t feasible to continue operating as though being a paid member solves problems with no effort from our membership. There are less than 30 branch executives divided among five branches serving British Columbia. These teams are, for the most part, stretched very thin and with no additional bandwidth to coordinate action beyond the skeleton of their branch mandates.
More than once, branches – and I’ll use Vancouver as an example – have put out the request for volunteers for events and actions of differing types. Often, these calls for volunteers go almost entirely unheard, save for a very small number of responders. This *must* change. Paying membership dues is great – and the support is truly appreciated – but what we need most is help from our community.
Getting involved is incredibly easy. Branches could use volunteer teams to help organize and coordinate events, run tables for membership drives, show support at city hall public hearings for bylaws relevant to craft beer in your cities, and much more. I encourage you to contact your branch President or any of their Executive teams to lend a hand however it may be needed. Rest assured, there are a number of opportunities to contribute your time and talents for a good cause.
For that matter: have you, as a member, experienced difficulties in communicating with your local CAMRA BC branch? Do you feel there is a lack of activity in your community? I’d like to get a feel for what members in all areas we serve are thinking. If you’ve had any issues with your local branch, I invite you to send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . Your comments will remain anonymous, and are intended solely to give me an unfiltered idea of your experiences as a member of your local branch.
Lastly, I want to remind you to keep your head held high. Though many of the concerns we, as a community have about consumers’ rights in our province are still very much prevalent, we are slowly navigating the seas of change together. It is a painfully slow process. Stay the course.
Lots more to come in the second half of 2016.