The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce has backed Minden Hills Coun. Pam Sayne’s call for sustainable municipal procurement policies.

In a letter to council Nov. 12, chamber executive director, Jennifer Locke, said the importance of supporting local businesses has been highlighted by COVID-19.

“We have never seen conditions like this, and enterprises of all types and sizes across Haliburton County will undoubtedly continue to face the impacts of the virus,” Locke said.

She added the chamber is encouraged by Sayne’s proposal – which received the unanimous support of Minden Hills Council Aug. 29 – to include social considerations in municipal purchasing.

Sayne got her council colleagues to vote in favour of a review of the township’s procurement policy, to give greater consideration to local vendors. At that meeting, she said there are social procurement policies and strategies elsewhere and the City of Peterborough is now working on one.

In her motion, Sayne said “social procurement is when an organization uses its buying of goods and services to also achieve social value in addition to the purchase of those goods and services. As part of its buying of goods and services, an organization could aim to encourage economic development, provide local employment opportunities, or reduce poverty. It blends financial and social considerations.”

Locke said, “this is a wonderful example of forward-thinking leadership and it is to be applauded. As a major purchaser of goods and services, each municipality has the potential to add significant value to the community simply by undertaking its regular operations.”

She said as part of the recovery from the pandemic, and as a key economic development strategy, each of the lower-tier municipalities “would be well-served to use this as an opportunity to undertake a review of their procurement processes to include a social procurement framework.”

She noted other municipal examples include The City of Vancouver, The City of Edmonton and The City of Toronto. Closest to Haliburton County, the City of Peterborough has directed staff to commit $100,000 to hire a consultant to further develop their program.

Locke said the chamber recently proposed a similar idea to the Municipality of Dysart et al’s recovery committee and received positive feedback on the potential for a policy shift. She said that’s why she is sharing the request with the other municipalities.

Council received the correspondence as information only.

Also at the Nov. 12 meeting, the township supported a request from Locke to support the #BuyCloseBy campaign. Council made an official proclamation for a #BuyCloseBy season dated Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, 2020. The other local townships also voted to support the season.

Locke said, “This campaign will serve to encourage all across Haliburton County to support local business in a time when revenues are constrained, expenses are up, and futures remain uncertain.”

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