There was excitement in the air at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia, with dozens of nominees gathering with hundreds of their, colleagues, friends, and family for one of the signature events of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Our Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, the 29th annual event, was all it was expected to be—and more.

For starters, there’s something to be said—especially in a time where modern business fashion is more likely to be “casual” than anything else—for a “dress-up” event that makes us all feel a bit brighter.

Suit and tie. A dress designed to catch the eye and draw more than a compliment or two.

It’s all part of the OBAA experience.

But then there’s also the excitement of the nominees who brought their very best to panels of judges who themselves, on the Friday, October 12 night of the OBAAs, were not aware of who the winners would be.

Some 15 categories were judged from among nominees made earlier this summer, plus one “Chamber Champion” selected by a group of past chairs of the Chamber’s board.

None of this would have been possible without the generous lead sponsorship of Libro Credit Union, and for their support we are very grateful.

A special thanks goes to McFarlan Rowlands/Economical Select for sponsoring the Nominee Reception/Rehearsal evening.

Here, then, are the categories, sponsors, nominees and, of course, our winners of this year’s OBAA event:

Agri-businesssponsored by Cargill Ltd


High Park Company, Hog Wild Farms, Penta TMR, Sipkens Nurseries, Podolinsky Equipment Ltd.


Podolinsky Equipment Ltd.

Business of the Yearsponsored by Scotiabank


Dragonfly Media, Guardian Real Estate Management, NOVA Chemicals, Royal Protective Services Sarnia


NOVA Chemicals

Cool Place to Worksponsored by TMRRW Inc


Blackwater Coffee Company, EXIT Realty Twin Bridges, Rally Engineering, Rebound, TWD Technologies, The Painted Cat

Winner—EXIT Realty Twin Bridges

Exporter of the Year—sponsored by Global Affairs Canada


AG Event Graphics, New England Arbors, Zen Yarn Garden

Winner—AG Event Graphics

Health Safety and Environmental Leadershipsponsored by Sarnia Lambton Environmental Association and Industrial Education Cooperative


Ontario Choice Tree Service, Terrapure Environmental

Winner—Terrapure Environmental

Inclusivitysponsored by Cogeco


Children’s Aid Society of Sarnia Lambton, Goodwill, Grace United Church, Helen Lomax Pathways & Transitions, RBC

Winner—Helen Lomax Pathways & Transitions

Marketing and Promotionssponsored by Bluewater Power


FortyHours, Greg’s Auto Detailing, PM Entertainment Group & Foundation (Bluewater BorderFest)

Winner—PM Entertainment Group & Foundation (Bluewater BorderFest)

Non-Profitsponsored by LEHDER Environmental Services


Family Counselling Centre, Lambton Elderly Outreach, Safe Communities Sarnia-Lambton, Sarnia Community Foundation, Twin Bridges NPLC, Workplace Group

Winner—Sarnia Community Foundation

Outstanding Customer Service (Business)sponsored by RBC Royal Bank


A Taste of Britain, Big Fish, Bluewater Hearing, Deb’s Shoe Gallery, Math Plus Tutors, Young Drivers of Canada – Sarnia, Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, Mortgage Wellness, Freshii, Skin Glow Aesthetic Boutique, LBM Consulting/Selectpath

Winner—Bluewater Hearing

Social Responsibilitysponsored by Pinchin Ltd


Bushido Sing Judo/Jiu-jitsu Club, Lambton College, Preferred Towing, Sarnia Green Drinks

Winner—Lambton College

Tech-novationsponsored by CIBC


Cogeco, LEADWAVE Technologies, Corporation of City of Sarnia

Winner (tied)—LEADWAVE Technologies and Corporation of the City of Sarnia

Business Leadershipsponsored by Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership


Julie Jenkins, EXIT Realty Twin Bridges, Judith Morris, Lambton College, Bill Yurchuk, Lambton Elderly Outreach, Lindsay Davey, Tiny Tots Sensory Baby Toys & Sewing Club

Winner—Judith Morris, Lambton College

Entrepreneursponsored by Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation

Adaleah Lacey, Adaleah Lacey Photography; Dean Haldenby, Haldenby Financial Group; Liwordson Vijayabalan, TMRRW


Liwordson Vijayabalan, TMRRW

Member of the Year, sponsored by Imperial Theatre


Dave Watson, Goodwill, Michael John Kooy, RBC Dominion Securities


Dave Watson, Goodwill

Outstanding Customer Service (Individual)sponsored by Air Canada


Dave Duguay, Blackwater Coffee Company; Donna Paddock, Danske Industries; Christian Willemsen, The Co-operators; David Burrows, The Show with David Burrows; Caroline Bekkers, Canadian Cancer Society; Aaron Deactis, DeGroot’s Nurseries; Danielle Edgar, Lambton Pharmacy; David Pugh, Ontario Choice Tree Service; Cara Quinn, Skin Glow Aesthetic Boutique; Alexa Pape, Young Drivers of Canada – Sarnia; Luc Berube, LEADWAVE Technologies.

Winner—Dave Duguay, Blackwater Coffee Company

Chamber Championsponsored by Past Chairs

Selected by the Chamber’s Board of Directors: Franco Filia, The Co-operators Insurance

And finally … we all look forward to seeing you next year for another “Outstanding” event!

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, along with title sponsor Libro Credit Union, are pleased to announce the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards winners following last Friday’s event at the Imperial Theatre.

It was a great evening celebrating all the nominees and winners!

Agri-business—sponsored by Cargill Ltd

  • High Park Company
  • Hog Wild Farms
  • Penta TMR
  • Podolinsky Equipment Ltd. (winner)
  • Sipkens Nurseries

Business of the Year—sponsored by Scotiabank

  • Dragonfly Media
  • Guardian Real Estate Management
  • NOVA Chemicals (winner)
  • Royal Protective Services Sarnia

Cool Place to Work—sponsored by TMRRW Inc

  • Blackwater Coffee Company
  • EXIT Realty Twin Bridges (winner)
  • Rally Engineering
  • Rebound
  • TWD Technologies
  • The Painted Cat

Exporter of the Year—sponsored by Global Affairs

  • AG Event Graphics (winner)
  • New England Arbors
  • Zen Yarn Garden

Health Safety and Environmental Leadership—sponsored by Sarnia Lambton Environmental Association
and Industrial Education Cooperative

  • Ontario Choice Tree Service
  • Terrapure Environmental  (winner)

Inclusivity—sponsored by Cogeco

  • Children’s Aid Society of Sarnia Lambton
  • Goodwill
  • Grace United Church
  • Helen Lomax Pathways & Transitions  (winner)
  • RBC

Marketing and Promotions—sponsored by Bluewater Power

  • FortyHours
  • Greg’s Auto Detailing
  • PM Entertainment Group & Foundation  (winner)

Non-Profit—sponsored by LEHDER

  • Family Counselling Centre
  • Lambton Elderly Outreach
  • Safe Communities Sarnia-Lambton
  • Sarnia Community Foundation  (winner)
  • Twin Bridges NPLC
  • Workplace Group

Outstanding Customer Service—Business—sponsored by RBC Royal Bank

  • A Taste of Britain
  • Big Fish
  • Bluewater Hearing  (winner)
  • Deb’s Shoe Gallery
  • Math Plus Tutors
  • Young Drivers of Canada—Sarnia
  • Tourism Sarnia-Lambton
  • Mortgage Wellness
  • Freshii
  • Skin Glow Aesthetic Boutique
  • LBM Consulting/Selectpath

Social Responsibility—sponsored by Pinchin Ltd

  • Bushido Sing Judo/Jiu-jitsu Club
  • Lambton College  (winner)
  • Preferred Towing
  • Sarnia Green Drinks

Tech-Novation—sponsored by CIBC

  • Cogeco
  • LEADWAVE Technologies (tied – winner)
  • Corporation of the City of Sarnia  (tied – winner)

Business Leadership—sponsored by Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership

  • Julie Jenkins, EXIT Realty Twin Bridges
  • Judith Morris, Lambton College  (winner)
  • Bill Yurchuk, Lambton Elderly Outreach
  • Lindsay Davey, Tiny Tots Sensory Baby Toys & Sewing Club

Entrepreneur—sponsored by Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation

  • Adaleah Lacey, Adaleah Lacey Photography
  • Dean Haldenby, Haldenby Financial Group
  • Liwordson Vijayabalan, TMRRW  (winner)

Member of the Year—sponsored by Imperial Theatre

  • Dave Watson, Goodwill  (winner)
  • Michael John Kooy, RBC Dominion Securities

Outstanding Customer Service—Individual—sponsored by Air Canada

  • Dave Duguay, Blackwater Coffee Company  (winner)
  • Donna Paddock, Danske Industries
  • Christian Willemsen, The Co-operators
  • David Burrows, The Show with David Burrows
  • Caroline Bekkers, Canadian Cancer Society
  • Aaron Deactis, DeGroot’s Nurseries
  • Danielle Edgar, Lambton Pharmacy
  • David Pugh, Ontario Choice Tree Service
  • Cara Quinn, Skin Glow Aesthetic Boutique
  • Alexa Pape, Young Drivers of Canada – Sarnia
  • Luc Berube, Leadwave

Chamber Champion—sponsored by Past Chamber Chairs

  • Franco Filia, Co-operators  (winner)
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More than 300 business leaders from every corner of the country—including Sarnia-Lambton—came together last month to focus on the challenges they face and come up with ways to address them.

The opportunity came in the form of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting. which is the largest gathering of business leaders in Canada.

“The Chamber’s AGM is the parliament of Canadian business,” noted Hon. Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The policy resolutions that they put forth are what’s on the mind of business owners from the small town shop to the corner office (and) they spoke with a focussed conviction: they loudly stated the case for getting more projects done, bringing more jobs and trade prospects to cities and towns across Canada.”

Members spoke with unity about a variety of issues, including the country’s lagging infrastructure and the fact that it limits Canada’s ability to grow.

“You cannot grow your economy without getting your products to market, and our lagging infrastructure is significantly limiting Canada’s ability to grow,” Beatty added. “Canada’s regulatory framework is suffocating our ability to create more middle-class jobs that build our roads, ports, and wind farms alike, and 300 Chambers across Canada have had enough. They are calling for real change.”

Some 63 policy motions were tabled for the debate process, of which 49 were passed, 3 were defeated, 1 was withdrawn, and 10 were referred to the Chamber Board committee for review. All of the resolutions can be found here.

Resolutions of note that received overwhelming support included:

·         Urging the Federal Government to create a national strategy in support of Canada’s bioindustry, a sector that is particularly important to our area. This resolution was submitted by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. Click HERE to see what happened next.

·         The need for greater clarity within the Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69) (100% approval).

·         The need for greater clarity within the Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69) (100% approval).

·         Supporting a competitive LNG industry in Canada (100% approval)

·         Ensuring front-of-package labelling regulations for food products do not affect Canadian business competitiveness (100% approval)

·         The Importance to the Economy of Expanded Oil Pipeline Infrastructure (100% approval)

·         Maximizing Value For Taxpayer Dollars on Public Infrastructure Projects And Defending The Rights Of Canadian Companies And Workers (100% approval)

·         Addressing Barriers to Interprovincial Trade (98.6% approval)

·         Protect Canadians with a taxpayer Charter of Rights (96.9% approval)

“The real power of the Canadian Chamber lies in its grassroots, with more than 400 chambers mobilized across the country, that, collectively, reflect the voice and concerns of business owners from every main street in the country,” added Beatty. “It is an incredibly powerful and effective voice, and the AGM policy debate is the lifeblood that supports it.”

Trends discussed during workshops and panel discussions outside of the debate process included the burgeoning cannabis industry, the future of work and the skills gap, Canada’s aging population, the millennial workforce, and diversity and inclusion, among many others.


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With online and telephone voting in the City of Sarnia now taking place, an event held last Wednesday (the day before voting began) was a timely opportunity for candidates to put their best foot forward.

Sponsored by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, with support from Lambton Mall, the event took place during an extended “dinner hour” in space adjacent to the food court.

“We have a tradition of helping to encourage active involvement in the political process,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber. “This event was one way we were able to extend our reach and encourage one-on-one interaction with the candidates.”

This year’s municipal election has fielded a near-record number of candidates. Voting in Sarnia began October 11 and wraps up on October 22.


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Lambton Public Health is asking for the help of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as it looks ahead to the upcoming winter season, with all its snow and ice challenges.

The agency, along with Age-Friendly Sarnia, is hosting a FREE two hour “Snow Removal Brainstorming Session” on Wednesday, October 24 from 2 p.m to 4 p.m. at the Kiwanis Room in the Sarnia Arena, located at 134 Brock Street South.

Attendees are being invited to share their ideas, feedback and support for snow removal in the community, the objective being to improve safe access for all.

For more information on the event, contact Jennifer Graham, health promoter with Lambton Public Health, at (519) 344-2057, ext. 3568 or email:

The event is FREE but organizers are asked to register online by clicking HERE.


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This is a new feature that will appear from time to time in the Chamber newsletter. Members are invited to contribute brief items at no cost.

The Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board is hosting a FREE (but registration required) workshop on “Maximizing Your Workforce by Attracting & Retaining Older Workers.” The event is being held on Wednesday, November 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Tourism Sarnia-Lambton building on Venetian Boulevard. Registrants will discover the benefits of attracting and retaining older workers and strategies for success in doing so. Register by emailing Julie Allen——or by calling (519) 332-0000.



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The OCC’s Fall Policy Survey is underway. The initiative, which is an integral part of advocacy work that is done both provincially and locally as the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce incorporates findings from across the province into its strategy to advocate on behalf of our members.

The findings of the survey, which wraps up on Friday, October 26, will be published in the Ontario Chamber’s Economic Report.

This is your opportunity to have your voice heard on issues that matter most.

The impact of government policy on your business and the overall state of the Ontario economy.

The survey is securely hosted by Navigator, an independent consulting firm. All responses will be kept strictly confidential.

By taking a few moments to complete the short survey, you will be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

CLICK HERE to begin the survey.

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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, of which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member, recently held a panel discussion with some of Canada’s leading cannabis companies on the economic development opportunities and policy issues in front of the sector.

A recording of the webinar can be reviewed by clicking HERE.

The following is a “5 Minutes for Business” article that covers the legal cannabis issue in Canada.

As of October 17, Canadian adults will be able to legally purchase and consume cannabis for recreational purposes; a year and a half after the federal government introduced its legislation to do so. It will mark the beginning of a fascinating battle between a new regulated industry and the existing illegal market that Canadians are currently turning to for recreational cannabis use.

This illegal market is the reason why the government made Canada the first large developed country to legalize recreational cannabis, seeking to displace illicit sales that profit organized crime to the tune of billions of dollars per year. How much? Statistics Canada reported that in 2015, Canada’s illegal cannabis market was worth as much as $6.2 billion, nearly as much as Canada’s wine market.

So what are the steps to legalizing a multi-billion dollar illegal market? Over the last 18 months, federal legislators and civil servants have been establishing a national framework for regulating access to cannabis, which includes rules for cultivation, production, possession and marketing. Meanwhile, provinces and territories have been busy setting the rules for distribution and retail sales. This has been accompanied by a frenzy of private sector activity to supply the legal market with licensed producers, retailers, ancillary businesses and others investing billions of dollars in this new sector.

Some of the factors that will influence how effective Canada’s legal cannabis market is at reducing illegal sales include safety, quality, access, supply and branding. Like all markets, one of the biggest factors will be price. As the head of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, Anne McLellan, told Members of Parliament studying the Cannabis Act, “Price point here is going to be key in terms of what you see in the illicit market and how effective the legal market is at moving people over.”

In late 2017, the federal government reached a cannabis tax revenue sharing agreement with the provinces and territories. On top of sales taxes, the agreement included a cannabis excise or “sin” tax of 10% of the retail price or $1 per gram—whichever is higher. The 10% tax is expected to raise $300 million annually for the provinces/territories and $100 million annually for the federal government. The agreement projected that including the excise tax, legal recreational cannabis will be priced around $10 a gram.

Only a few months later, Statistics Canada released a survey that found Canadians are currently paying an average of less than $7 a gram for cannabis. One would expect that this data would be a strong signal to policymakers not to propose additional taxes on legal cannabis, which would widen the gulf between legal and illegal market prices. One would be wrong.

Fast forward to this July, when Health Canada proposed four “cost recovery fees”—otherwise known as user fees—on the industry to recoup the costs the government will incur by regulating the sector. User fees are typically associated with a specific service from the federal government, such is the case with the first three of the proposed fees: an application screening fee, an import/export permit fee and a security screening fee. However, it is the fourth fee that caught the industry’s attention, one meant to recover other federal regulatory costs. An annual regulatory fee of 2.3% of gross revenue for licensed producers was proposed, with a 1% fee for micro-cultivators and processors. The proposal is expected to put an additional $100 million into federal coffers every year. No clear policy rationale has been shared with industry for how government determined the 2.3% fee level. The annual regulatory fee proposal also excludes any government service standards despite the legal requirement to do so. This additional tax (which is what the fee is), was also proposed after licensed producers had already negotiated multi-year supply deals with provincial wholesalers based on the previously announced 10% excise tax. On top these taxes and regulatory fees, some provinces are considering additional taxes; Manitoba has proposed an additional 6% social responsibility tax.

As others have warned, high government taxes and fees will hurt legal producers’ ability to compete with the illegal market and ultimately hurt Canadians as well, which runs counter to the government’s rationale for legalizing cannabis in the first place. The imposition of the 2.3% fee also disregards the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that will flow to all levels of government from this new multi-billion dollar industry, that will include new personal income and payroll taxes, corporate income taxes and municipal property taxes. The government would be wise to wait on imposing this new tax until after regulators see how effective Canada’s legal market is at displacing the illegal one.

There are other looming policy issues that will influence the effectiveness of breaking up the illegal market. The government of Ontario’s recent decision to move from a sparsely populated government-run retail distribution network to a private retail model will increase the reach of the legal market in Canada’s largest province. Municipalities across the country will need to deal with the hundreds of unlicensed dispensaries that are operating outside the law to protect retailers who are investing and operating within new provincial rules. The federal government must also move quickly to establish regulations for the recreational production and sale of cannabis edibles, beverages and other products that will remain in the hands of the illicit market after October 17.

As we approach legalization, this new industry is quickly becoming familiar with some of the competitiveness challenges facing other sectors in Canada—namely outdated government thinking on business taxes and fees. Deloitte has forecasted that Canada’s cannabis market will be worth up to $7.17 billion in sales next year. To maximize the economic benefits to Canadians of this $7-billion market, governments must create an environment that supports businesses that are playing by the rules, so they can in turn create new jobs and investment, along with the significant tax revenue for governments that will follow.

This ‘5 Minutes for Business’ article was produced by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.


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As the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce continues to monitor various pieces of legislation as part of its advocacy mandate, there are several items for which members should be aware.

The Workplace Safety & Prevention Services is one of the organizations the Chamber looks to as a source of expert advice and input on various issues.

The first issue involves Bill C-45, which is set to take effect on October 17. The legislation legalizes the recreational use of marijuana and observers say this could have a dramatic impact on health and safety in your workplace.

The Chamber, through the WSPS, also has its eye on Bill C-65, the federal Harassment and Violence Act, a groundbreaking bill that will have implications for federal workplaces, and Schedule 5 of Ontario Bill 18, which switches responsibility for the costs of injuries to temp workers to the employer.

Bill 174 amendments

Also taking effect on October 17 is an amendment to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (Bill 174) which will prohibit the smoking and ingestion of cannabis in workplaces. This amendment aligns the province with the federal.

Bill 174 requires employers to post signs and notify employees of the act. It also amends the Ontario Highway Traffic Act to prohibit the smoking of cannabis in company vehicles (inside and outside the workplace). This prohibition applies to everyone including employees who have been prescribed medical marijuana.

Those who haven’t already done so are being encouraged to review both the federal and provincial legislation, update your hazard assessments to include the potential for impairment, and create new policies and programs around substance abuse in the workplace

Bill C-65

Before the federal government enacts Bill C-65, it is consulting Canadians on the proposed framework. The bill aims to strengthen the law by proposing, among other things, that workplace programs and policies include measures to prevent sexual harassment and violence and recognize the impact of psychological injuries and illness arising from violence and harassment.

The bill is expected to become law in fall 2019.

Schedule 5 of Bill 18

Proclaimed on April 6, 2018, this bill attributes temporary workers’ injury and accident costs—which are currently paid by temporary help agencies—to employers. This could lead to higher or lower WSIB premiums for employers. The bill is not yet in force.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will continue to update members on various pieces of legislation as part of its ongoing advocacy role.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be managing a short-term project requiring the services of a candidate with stakeholder relations experience and strong interview skills.

The successful candidate, who will be paid a set fee for the services required, will also be skilled in the research and writing of reports.

The project being undertaken will include interviews to be done with international students and graduates. The expectation is that the final report will outline the barriers to future employment faced by those students.

Those interested in discussing the position further should contact Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached by email (preferred method):


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