CHAMBER WEEK: Langley chamber hosting coffee chats with top elected officials

MLA and Environment Minister Mary Polak was the first top Langley politician to speak at the chamber’s new Coffee & Conversation forum. - Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce photo
MLA and Environment Minister Mary Polak was the first top Langley politician to speak at the chamber’s new Coffee & Conversation forum.
— image credit: Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce photo

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce has more than 100 events on the calendar for 2017, among the newest on the agenda are a series of monthly gathering called Coffee & Conversation.

Politicians have frequently been guest speakers at the monthly chamber dinner meetings, but last year’s member survey indicated a desire to change things up and make the dinner meetings more of a “can’t miss” experience, said chamber executive director Colleen Clark.

Then, last fall, the chamber invited MP John Aldag to speak about the federal budget during one of the chamber’s smaller forums – a monthly Lunch & Learn session held in the chamber boardroom.

Despite much smaller attendance at the event, Clark immediately saw an underlying benefit to the session.

An unexpected bonus: it provided an intimate forum for business people to ask direct question and have “invaluable” discussions with their politician.

This spawned the brand new Coffee & Conversation, a monthly lunch-time event offering a face-to-face with some of the community’s top elected officials.

The first conversation was held in late January, featuring Langley MLA and Environment Minister Mary Polak.

Only open to chamber members and limited to 20 people, the first (and now the second) Coffee & Conversation session sold out quickly.

At least initially, she added, the Coffee & Conversation sessions are proving “incredibly popular.”

It is an open, honest conversation with a politician. That doesn’t always happen,” Clark said.

It’s not so much a “meeting” as a friendly group discussion, where all the parties can talk about local issues (economic development, transportation, environment, and community news) that are vital to the Langley business community.

“It’s definitely a different dynamic,” Clark said, inviting chamber members to take advantage of the new forum.

The chamber provides coffee.

Cedarbrook Bakery is providing light refreshments.

Participants are invited to bring their own lunch to enjoy.

While this month’s session with Township Mayor Jack Froese is already sold out for Feb. 16, spaces are still available for the March 16 conversation with Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer, the April 4 meeting with Deputy Premier and Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman, the April 20 pow wow with MP Mark Warawa, May 18’s chin-wag with Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore, and the June 28 conversation with Aldag.

The sessions be break during summer, then Clark speculates they’ll resume with the same list of top local politicians again come the fall.

In the meantime, she assured that Coffee & Conversation does not mean the chamber will be eliminating all political content from its monthly dinner meetings.

On March 21, for instance, it’s hosting what they are calling a Langley Leadership dinner that will feature the two municipal mayors, as well as MLA Rich Coleman, and possibly Mary Polak. The MPs are sitting at that time, and will not be able to attend.

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