Presidential Farewell – And the Future

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.

Yours,

Jeremy  Noonan
President
CAMRA BC

 

 

 

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CAMRA BC AGM 2017 and Call for Nominations

Dear CAMRA BC Members,

It’s that time of year again! This communication serves as 30 day notice of the upcoming 2017 CAMRA BC AGM.

The AGM will be held on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at Yellow Dog Brewing  (1-2817 Murray St, Port Moody BC) from 10:00am to 12:00pm.

Members in good standing of any CAMRA BC branch can vote by show of hands if they are present at the meeting. Beginning this year, members can also vote by way of email following the call for nominations deadline.

Nominations will be open as of today, January 20 and must be received no later than 11:59pm PSTon Friday, February 10, 2017. Nominees will be posted immediately at the end of the call for nomination period. Votes by way of email will be accepted at that time through to 11:59pm PST on Friday, February 17.

Note that each member in good standing is entitled to one vote per membership ID. Additional votes attached to a membership ID will not be counted.

After the email voting period has concluded, we will tally these votes and include them in the counting of in-person votes during the AGM.

Nominations (and votes, after February 10, 2017) should be sent to nominations@camrabc.ca. The following board positions are now open for nominees:

President
Vice President
Treasurer
Secretary

Those nominated unopposed will be elected by acclamation at the time of the AGM.

If you have any questions regarding the AGM, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or any other member of the CAMRA BC board.

Regards,

Jeremy Noonan
President – CAMRA BC
president@camrabc.ca

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Presidential Update #4

What a year!

As 2016 comes to a close, I am reminded of my gift shopping experience of the last month. Namely, my experience as a consumer amidst the holiday rush. For a few people on my list, it occurred to me that a few outstanding bottles of beer would make terrific gifts, and so I found myself at a few liquor stores perusing shelves. It was at this time that it occurred to me that I have had one problem replaced with another. It was no longer the problem of lacking good options; no, it had become the problem of having plenty of good options. Do I get someone some of the recent Twin Sails’ can releases? Main Street’s Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout? A pack of Superflux’s amazing IPAs? Steamworks’ Flagship? Boombox’s barrel sours? A growler of Strange Fellows’ Jolly Rancher? Central City’s Sour I/II/III? To add to my indecision, a swath of great ciders like Shacksbury and Isastegi are accessible on shelves, as are the rapidly-growing number of import brands showing up in our market.

We’re starting to see huge interest in our local products from other regions, too. Lineups for limited releases. People in other provinces and countries looking to acquire our breweries’ products.

These are good problems to have.

The adage has always been “Vancouver’s beer scene is always x (where x varies by opinion of the person saying so) number of years behind Portland’s”. Those are fine shoes to aim to fill, and as of late, I am convinced that we are coming into our own in a great way.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t improvements to make, and things to be concerned about. Both of these things remain true. We are starting to see places like Coquitlam (and with continued efforts, Port Coquitlam) amend their bylaws to include approval of breweries, though the zoning that determines which areas they may open could use improvement. Based on other work done this year to support zoning amendments elsewhere, this isn’t an unrealistic goal to aim for.

We have changes to the classification of beer set to take effect in British Columbia on January 1. While this is focused around the amount of residual sugars (a maximum of 4%), we were initially concerned about how this would impact our breweries and the options consumers have at retail. After significant discussion and consultation, along with clarification from the BC Craft Brewers Guild, this does not appear to be anything to be concerned about.
The testing sample list that I reviewed listed only one beer in our market as exceeding the 4% residual sugars limit and would under the new classifications be considered a “malt beverage”. Worth noting is that this was an exceptionally sweetened import and not one of our locally produced products. Every brewer I’ve spoken with so far has imparted that it is not of any concern, as it doesn’t affect them in any meaningful way.

(Brewers I haven’t yet spoken to: if this directly and negatively impacts your product line, I’d be very interested in hearing from you. Please email me at president@camrabc.ca)

On the topic of reclassifying beer, I speak for many of us when I say the change I’d like to see is to beers above the 12% ABV range being taxed like any other beer.

We still have an insidious pay-to-play program run by a major macro beer conglomerate that directly manipulates sales and representation of craft beer. The province needs to turn their attention to this and counter by prohibiting anti-competitive practices in the BC liquor industry. We’ll definitely be pursuing this in a big way in 2017.

Lastly, we’ve made considerable progress in shoring up our internal operations: our South Fraser branch is operating in a strong, healthy way. We’ve identified exactly what skillsets and systems we need to implement internally to more deeply integrate all of our branches in order to provide a truly unified member experience.

We’ll be announcing our 2017 AGM date soon along with our call for nominations for next year’s Executive team. We need passionate, dedicated craft beer enthusiasts like you. Consider running and joining us!

With this in mind, on behalf of the 2016 BC Executive team, we wish you a safe, responsible and wonderful holiday season filled with warmth, loved ones and of course, terrific craft beer.

Cheers!

Jeremy Noonan
President,
CAMRA BC

 

 

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