BC has started the next phase of the largest immunization effort in its history, and initial reports are that the province-led rollout has gone well. Under Phase 3, everyone in British Columbia can follow three steps to get vaccinated. After registering online or over the phone, you will be contacted to book an appointment when you are eligible based on where you fit in the criteria for the immunization plan. In Greater Victoria, first doses of vaccine will be administered at seven sites including the University of Victoria, Victoria Conference Centre and the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
As the third wave of COVID-19 hits BC, the province remains committed to providing everyone in BC with a first dose of vaccine by July 1, setting the stage for loosening of restrictions over the summer.
An online hub offering mental health help for employers and their staff has been created by the province and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The new hub, announced today, provides workshops and webinars as well as links and other information to help manage stress and build resiliency in the workplace.
In May, the hub will also offer a made-in-B.C. training and coaching platform that will provide personalized guidance for managers in the tourism, hospitality and community social services sectors.
Celebrity sightings in Greater Victoria are a welcome reminder of the role the film industry plays in sustainable economic growth of our region. Chamber CEO Bruce Williams was interviewed by CTV Vancouver Island on Monday about the opportunity to invest in production infrastructure.
"Having the film people in town is a big boost in many ways to the economy," Williams said, noting that hosting film and television crews provides benefits to the tourism and hospitality industry.
"They are spending money, they are renting things, they're staying in hotels (and) they're going to restaurants."
The Chamber is actively advocating for investment in film production facilities in Greater Victoria.
We continue to work with the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission as well as Malahat Film Studios, Camosun College, the District of Saanich and all of our partners working on bringing production facilities to our region.
Property crime has been one of the most visible signs of disruption caused by the pandemic. In response, the Downtown Victoria Business Association and the City of Victoria are partnering to provide grants to businesses affected by vandalism. The grants are available .
Up to $1,000 is available to eligible businesses located within the city. Affected businesses must be able to show proof — insurance deductible, police file number and repair receipts. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the wake of the new provincial restrictions announced March 29 limiting indoor dining across BC, The Chamber’s Takeout Challenge has helped raise awareness about the need to step up support for our members restaurants.
So far, more than 100 people have entered by tagging their favourite restaurant and two friends on one of our Takeout Challenge social media posts for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Tutti or Lucky to Go.
Take a photo enjoying takeout from your favourite restaurant, post it on social media and tag us with the hashtag
#ChamberLocalVicBC for five additional entries!
The contest is on now until Sunday, April 25, 2021. Winners will be announced on Monday, April 26 in our Chamber Events newsletter.
Along with take-out and delivery, the current health restrictions allow outside dining.
Featured in photo above: Takeout treats from The Inn at Laurel Point. Photo by @kwonmediastudio
As the province finds itself facing another wave of COVID-19 cases, there was some joyful news and evidence that immunization is key to ending the pandemic.
On April 1, families were able to visit in-person with relatives living in long-term care homes. At Broadmead Care resident Marjorie Sutherland, pictured above, was able to hold the hand of her son David Sutherland and daughter Wendy O'Dwyer for the first time in more than a year.
The Ministry of Health and BC Centre for Disease Control updated guidelines for long-term care homes and assisted living facilities.
“Now that the most vulnerable among us have received a vaccine, we are safely amending restrictions to give people in long-term care greater opportunities to connect with the people they love,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news release.
Another building has been purchased by BC Housing to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Greater Victoria. The province announced yesterday that 70 indoor spaces will be available after renovations to 225 Russell St. in Victoria.
“In order to hit our target of bringing everyone in tents in parks in Victoria inside by the end of April, this building is a necessary part of the plan,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, adding the plan is to renovate the site for use as long-term supportive housing.
Our Place Society will operate the shelter and help residents access support services as needed.
Make sure to register for our Business Restart Series with Shayne Ramsay, CEO BC Housing on May 11. Details below!
The pandemic and the "unprecedented uncertainty" we've all had to live with for more than year is not an excuse for surprise decisions that damage businesses.
Monday's announcement that restaurants, pubs and bars had mere hours to implement severe restrictions could have been handled better. Business has been leading the charge on following restrictions and keeping our community safe, but we need the government to work with us.
"It's clear that decision makers in government don't understand business, which is why we're calling for the province to do a better job of working alongside organizations such as ours," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "I'm talking to our partner organizations in Greater Victoria and the other Island chambers to offer the province a readily available advisory network that understands the challenges facing businesses."
Monday's decision left the restaurant and hospitality industry reeling. The Downtown Victoria Business Association reports that business owners are worried about wasting food purchased as part of plans for Easter weekend. Staff are also anxious about their jobs, while the tourism industry has been left feeling kicked while already on the ground.
Destination Greater Victoria says it's hearing from hotels that, after Monday's announcement, guests have cancelled planned visits as far out as September. According to DGV, the sector could lose $900,000, based on 6,000 hotel rooms with an average room rate of $150.
Businesses in the City of Langford will have more confidence about expanding operations after council voted to extend permits for up to three years.
Restaurants and retail businesses had been asking for certainty in order to invest in exterior capital improvements to support outdoor dining and expanded business capacity. Langford's bylaw, previously requiring annual renewal, was amended to allow operations on sidewalks, boulevards and other common areas for up to three years under a single permit.
“Council has recognized that the implications of the pandemic are still a major challenge for many local businesses,” Langford Mayor Stew Young says. “Through this bylaw amendment, we have cut the red tape to make the process of expanding a patio or storefront this spring simple and efficient, while ensuring the safety of customers and staff.”
The Chamber continues working with all municipalities in Greater Victoria to enable innovative solutions to restaurants and all businesses affected by the pandemic.
The District of Saanich is hoping to lead the way for Greater Victoria municipalities after council voted unanimously to reduce the speed limit on side streets to 30 km/h. Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes has reached out to other municipalities that had agreed to a previous plan to reduce speeds to 40 km/h. The hope is they will agree to a further reduction and can make a joint request to the provincial government. The default speed for streets in BC is currently 50 km/h.
Proponents note multiple benefits of reducing side streets to 30 km/h. Fewer collisions and better experiences for pedestrians and cyclists would immediately improve the many streets in Saanich without sidewalks.