Bryan DeNeve is pleased to start his term as the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce chair, becoming part of the history of an organization that was in place even before Edmonton achieved status as a city.
The span between the earliest iteration of the Chamber and the recognition of Edmonton as a city was 15 years apart. Yet, it is hardly surprising when one looks a little closer at the timelines and of the entrepreneurial people that made up the city and the Edmonton Board of Trade.
Edmonton, the “Gateway to the North,” has always been a place of commerce and trade. Indigenous peoples were meeting on this land as far back as 3,000 BCE. Archeologists have identified many of the artifacts left behind as tools belonging to semi-nomadic peoples; trade was evident during these times.
In the late 1700s the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company established trading posts near Fort Saskatchewan. In 1821, the two companies merged to become the historical icon we still celebrate today: Fort Edmonton.
Even though Fort Edmonton dominated Western Canada as the prime outpost for trading fur, the region was still known for its business activities, not as a place to live. It wasn’t until the 1870s when homesteads started to slowly appear, and settlement didn’t ramp up until the early 1900s when the Canadian Northern Railway established a local connection and Edmonton amalgamated with Strathcona.
It was just prior to this boom, in 1889, that 33 pioneers signed a certification of formation, or as it is better known, the document that formed the Edmonton Board of Trade. As visionaries, these members saw that the future of Edmonton hinged on selling its resources outside of the province, and outside of Canada.
The Edmonton Board of Trade was renamed the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce in 1928, and the purpose remains largely the same: to showcase Edmonton’s resources on the global stage while supporting the businesses, large and small, that make up the capital city.
Last year the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce celebrated 130 years of protecting and advancing the interests of Edmonton’s business community. As year 131 gets underway, Bryan DeNeve takes his seat as chair, and is excited about his role in moving Edmonton forward during one of its most pivotal and vulnerable times.
Economic and political changes, the ongoing boom and bust economy typical of the energy industry, climate change and the growing emergence of the tech/digital/AI sector sees Edmonton’s business community facing new challenges and having to adapt quickly with modern solutions.
DeNeve is more than up to the task.
Born and raised in the capital city, DeNeve says, “Edmontonians are typically down-to-earth, hardworking people. It is a tremendous city in which to raise a family.”
With a history entrenched in the energy industry, a keen eye for innovative solutions, and a talent for leadership, the Chamber’s 131st year is in good hands. DeNeve has worked in Alberta since 1987, and his career and education encompass economics, finance and business development.
From 2011 to 2015, DeNeve was the senior vice president of corporate development and commercial services at Capital Power.
“During this period, I led the development of new growth projects for Capital Power along with the management of commodity trading and commercial optimization of our generation assets,” he notes. “During this time, we also developed a number of new wind facilities across Canada and the United States and entered into a joint venture with ENMAX Corporation to develop the Shepard Energy Centre (a combined cycle generation facility) located just outside of Calgary.”
Since 2015 DeNeve has held the position of senior vice president, finance and chief finanical officer at Capital Power.
“In this expanded role, the team and I have successfully raised $2.5 billion in the capital markets alongside enhancing and executing on our overall financial strategy. A key element of our strategy is to consistently grow our dividend year-over-year at 7 per cent per annum.”
The achievements are impressive, but DeNeve admits, it hasn’t been easy to lead in an industry that is currently facing significant changes as it evolves.
“Capital Power has remained resilient through the ongoing economic and political challenges in Alberta,” says DeNeve with optimism. “We have a young and highly reliable portfolio of generation assets in Alberta, which allow us to manage our commodity exposure with strategic hedging of our power position. We also have deep experience in developing and constructing generation facilities, which has allowed us to create significant shareholder value over the last 10 years.”
Capital Power is a strong advocate for the sector. DeNeve explains.
“We seek to constructively engage with governments, regulators and community stakeholders in all of the markets in which we operate. Electricity has, and will always be, a focus area for public policy discussion, and the growing focus on electricity’s role in achieving climate and sustainability objectives adds an important new dimension to the discussion. We work to provide information reflecting our particular experience and expertise in these areas to support informed policy decisions that take into account all relevant factors and considerations.”
He continues about how Capital Power is excited about leading the changing sector.
“Since our inception, Capital Power has been committed to sustainable energy through building and investing in state-of-the art facilities and investing in renewable energy. We are now focused on becoming a leader in environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy and reporting. Last July we established long-term objectives for reducing CO2 emissions at our Genesee facility as well as reducing the overall GHG intensity of our fleet across North America. We are also involved in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) with an interest in C2CNT, a technology company developing a proprietary solution to transform carbon into carbon nanotubes, which have numerous commercial applications. C2CNT is currently competing in the natural gas track of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, which is hosted at the Shepard facility, and is testing their technology at commercial scale.”
Through his work at Capital Power, DeNeve has seen firsthand the potential Edmonton has to become a global leader in not only clean energy, but in many aspects of commerce and trade across several industries. With this view, he turned to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. His involvement prior to becoming the Chamber chair included work with the audit, risk, and policy forum committees.
“I believe maintaining the standard of living in the city of Edmonton requires a healthy and vibrant business sector. The Edmonton Chamber is front and centre in terms of making this happen,” he says. “This includes advocacy on behalf of businesses in Edmonton to the appropriate levels of government as well as supporting business from the perspective of providing networking and educational opportunities.”
DeNeve is excited about taking on what he sees as a big roadblock in the path of Edmonton, and Alberta’s, success.
“Economic challenges continue in Edmonton and Alberta due to a lack of market access and overall slowdown in global growth, which is compounded by the fiscal challenges faced by the various levels of government. Advocating to all levels of government on the importance of maintaining our competitive advantage is critical. The Edmonton Chamber has done an excellent job in this regard over the past several years. We will continue to work with other Chambers to bring a stronger message to the provincial and federal governments.”
He is also excited about, “The opportunity to work more closely with the Chamber’s members over the next year. Despite the headwinds, our business community is filled with talented individuals who utilize creativity and innovation to continue their success. It is also exciting to recognize the opportunities that are being created for businesses through continued digitalization in various industries.”
As he thinks back on his time as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and as a member on several of its committees, he notes that there are several highlights he remembers fondly. However, DeNeve is most thankful for the events hosted by the Chamber that have brought, and continue to bring, timely and relevant information to Edmonton’s business community through speakers, forums, networking, and product demonstrations.
A passionate supporter of the community, DeNeve is also pleased to see the depth of the Chamber’s charitable giving.
“The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce supports the Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF), which helps children in need in the Edmonton area,” he smiles.
ECF connects donors and charities, ensuring that those in need are matched with the best resources for their situation. ECF helps donors establish and grow endowment funds; provides support for charitable organizations; provides grants for students that have a finanical need and are demonstrably active in the community; and helps professional advisors’ clients manage gifting, donating, and legacy building.
On the personal side, DeNeve sits on the board of United Way Alberta Capital Region, which he calls, “another very important organization doing tremendous work for people in need in the Edmonton area.”
United Way Alberta Capital Region is committed to changing lives by breaking the cycle of poverty, lifting people out of disadvantaged circumstances, and providing a safety net when life takes an unexpected turn. With important programs such as Tools for School, Coats for Kids and Families, Care Kits for Homeless Connect and the Community Mental Health Action Plan, to name just a few, this organization helps thousands of Albertans daily, and DeNeve is excited to be a part of it.
From his role at Capital Power to his community work and involvement with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, everything DeNeve does shows his love of Edmonton and Edmonton’s business community – and his desire to be part of the change that will bring Edmonton to a brighter, more sustainable future.
For the business community, this means encouraging more entrepreneurs and corporations to join the Chamber.
“The Chamber has the mandate and resources to effectively support Edmonton businesses from an advocacy, educational and relationship perspective,” he points out. “As a key stakeholder in the community, Edmonton businesses can work together with the Chamber to ensure we have a vibrant business environment that enhances the overall standard of living in Edmonton.”
During his term as Chamber chair, DeNeve will focus on government advocacy and looking for ways to best provide value for Chamber members.
For DeNeve, the future of the Chamber, and of Edmonton, is full of possibilities.
“This is our home and where we raise our families,” he concludes. “Volunteering time to enhance the community is time well spent and will benefit generations to come. I expect to continue to work with my colleagues at Capital Power to continue our leadership as a trusted partner in electricity generation. Part of this leadership is the continued advances in the area of environment, social and corporate governance.”
Learn more about Capital Power at www.capitalpower.com, and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce at www.edmontonchamber.com.