The Chamber looks forward to continuing to work with the new provincial government on advocacy priorities for our members.
After the Oct. 23 election gave the BC NDP a majority government, our expectations are high that Greater Victoria will be a priority — six of our region's electoral districts went to BC NDP candidates.
The Chamber will also be following our local MLAs to make sure they deliver on campaign promises. For a refresher on what the elected MLAs said, check out The Chamber's Election Panels with local candidates.
As organizations modify their operations to carry on safely serving customers, many are facing challenges covering unexpected costs. To help, the Canada United movement — created by RBC — is offering up to $5,000 for businesses that need to outfit plexiglass barriers, purchases personal protective equipment or update e-commerce capacity.
The program, administered across Canada by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, supports businesses that need to make changes to meet local health and safety requirements. Applications for the program opened Monday.
Chamber staff took part in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting this week, helping adopt a number of policy resolutions that address important issues for our members.
"By joining with our Chamber network, we can amplify our calls for government to better serve Canadians by focusing on helping the business community," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "Greater Victoria shares many of the concerns of other regions in Canada, such as ensuring indigenous communities are included in conversations about local economies and advocating for investment in marine industries in Canada."
The Chamber also heard from a panel of experts on what to expect after next Tuesday's elections in the US.
“I just hope that everybody doesn’t retreat into their corner of the sandbox and play by themselves because this will cause both health risks and economic collapse,” said panelist David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2016 to 2019.
The John Howard Society will own and operate a new affordable housing development at 736 Princess Ave., after Victoria council approved a total of 72 new housing units for low-income and vulnerable residents.
The Princess Avenue location will provide 28 new units, as well as amenities such as a coffee shop and art gallery that will facilitate an employment readiness program.
Council's decision, made last Thursday, also includes 44 new units at 330 Michigan St. The Capital Regional Housing Corporation will retain an existing heritage building on the site and demolish three other buildings to create room for two four-storey multi-familiy buildings. The new buildings will increase the number of affordable units from 62 to 106 on the site.
Voters in Victoria will soon find out who is on the ballot for the city's Dec. 12 by-election. The candidate nomination period opened yesterday, and closes Nov. 6.
The by-election was rescheduled after its original date in April was cancelled due to the pandemic. Any candidates who were previously nominated will need to go through the process again if they still plan to seek election. Candidate nomination forms are available by calling Victoria City Hall at 250-361-0571 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit victoria.ca/election.
As soon as candidates are confirmed, The Chamber will provide our members with opportunities to find out where council hopefuls stand on issues of importance to the business community.
After a spike in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Surrey, all regions of BC are being asked to take extra precautions.
Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a new order on Monday, limiting gatherings within private homes and urging businesses to review their COVID-19 safety plans. Our understanding of this disease has changed since many plans were implemented in the summer, and, as we enter flu and cold season, it's timely to update protocols.
Dr. Henry also says she expects British Columbians to wear masks in indoor public spaces when around people outside your bubble.
The Capital Regional District has launched a new program to help businesses in the region check the efficiency of faucets used for hand-washing. If the faucet isn't operating at maximum efficiency, the CRD will replace the faucet's aerator for free.
The new aerators use less than two litres of water per minute, compared to as much as 11 litres per minute in older faucets. The update can save businesses money and waste less water. The regional district estimates that 25% of all water in Greater Victoria is used for commercial and industrial purposes. That adds up to 10 billion litres per year.
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The Chamber strongly supports Greater Victoria mayors who are calling on the new provincial government to do better to improve regional transportation on southern Vancouver Island. Specifically, we have been calling for a regional approach to how transportation is governed. We need to think broadly to address transportation issues and take advantage of opportunities to create 21st century solutions.
The mayors of Saanich, Victoria, Colwood and View Royal were among the group that co-authored a letter to the province.
Greater Victoria municipalities will get $13.1 million from a new federal fund for emergency housing, announced yesterday. The $1 billion Rapid Housing Initiative will create as many as 3,000 homes for Canadians in need across the country.
The government determined how much of the fund cities will get by metrics such as the percentage of people experiencing homelessness, and the level of renters in severe housing situations. The initiative provides cash to quickly build modular multi-unit rentals, and to transform abandoned or derelict and non-residential buildings into livable, affordable housing units. Applications can be submitted until the end of the year to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Soon after the results of the provincial election are confirmed, The Chamber will be calling on government to ensure relief programs are available for sectors that are struggling due to COVID-19. The sooner we get our economy back to where it was before the pandemic, the better all of us will be.
One initiative we'd like to see improved is the province's Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grants program, announced Oct. 9. The program sets aside $300 million for grants between $10,000 and $30,000 to business that meet a range of criteria. The program also offers additional grants between $5,000 and $10,000 to tourism businesses that meet additional criteria.
The Chamber is concerned the program could leave behind businesses struggling to survive. Many are in vulnerable situations and need an immediate lifeline to make it through until spring, when revenue streams are expected to stabilize.