Dan Wong’s year as chamber chair is expected to be an important one. Wong was named Chair of the Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Thursday. He says with both a provincial and federal election expected in 2019, it’s the best opportunity to get their voices heard.

“We know that there are big issues like pipelines that need to make it to tidewater so that our petroleum products can make it to the world market, but there are also some very local projects that we’d like to see completed.”

Those include the twinning of Highway 40. Wong stresses the importance of making the route south of Grande Prairie safer, as well as encouraging development in the area of the proposed tri-municipal industrial partnership in the MD of Greenview.

“We need to improve that safety for all the people that live here as they head south towards Grande Cache, Jasper, and beyond… That area right now will be hamstrung by the amount of traffic that’s going to be bogging down vehicle movement.”

Another project that needs to be finished is the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital, which recently saw a change in contractors. Wong argues having a couple of extra years to prepare could work out to the region’s benefit. He points to gaps found in an analysis spearheaded by the chamber in 2016.

“Do we need more policing because our community is going to grow by so much? Do we need to get more housing because we’re going to attract more healthcare workers? There’s all these service areas that need time to react for when that hospital is going to open.”

Wong is a professional engineer at Beairsto & Associates Engineering, and spent six years as a City of Grande Prairie councillor between 2007 and 2013. He says he’s excited to work with recently hired CEO Tanya Oliver, as well as new and returning board members.

At Thursday’s AGM, Larry Gibson was acclaimed as Board First Vice-Chair and Tertius Genis of Fusion Business Solutions as Second Vice-Chair. Cris Seppola-Podsada of nine10 Incorporated will stay on as Past Chair.

Three empty seats on the board left by retiring directors were filled by Ken Loudon of the YMCA of Northern Alberta, Shelly Sorensen of Willy’s Trucking Service, and Cord Spero of Re/Max Grande Prairie. The retiring directors are Dennis Bell, Scott Roessler, and Cheryl Weaver.

Now serving their second terms are Becky Bozarth of Sun Life Financial/Canwest Group Benefits, Cheryl Budjak of ATB Financial, and Brooks Hoffos of Royal LePage The Realty Group. Also on the board are Kory Brazel of MNP, Gord Chrenek of Lewis & Chrenek LLP, Frederic Grandmaison of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, Lisa Hall of International Paper, Jason Miller of Virtus Services, Justin Munroe of Pizza Hut, and Cindy Park of Seven Generations Energy.