Grants of up to $250,000 are now available to help sports, arts and cultural events get back up and running safely. The provincial government opened the application process last Friday for the Fairs, Festivals and Events Recovery Fund.
A total of $12.9 million is available in one-time grants for up to 20% of an event's budget. Funds can be used for "operational costs, health and safety measures, venue rental, marketing, wages and promotion." Applications are being accepted until Oct. 1 for events that occurred after July 1, or which will take place before Sept. 30 of next year.
"Eligible events include sport, arts and culture events, community celebrations, agricultural fairs, rodeos and exhibitions," states the news release from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culutre and Sports. "Applications submitted by organizations will be required to demonstrate local or regional support and show the economic and social benefits for the community."
With less than two weeks to go before BC introduces a proof of vaccination requirement on Sept. 13, The Chamber continues to work with our partner organizations to ensure the program does not unduly burden staff and businesses while protecting our community.
The Chamber has been a vocal supporter of BC's immunization campaign, including through our #ChamberChangemaker initiative.
"We recognize that vaccines are the path forward and we continue to encourage full vaccinations as the best way to keep ourselves and each other safe," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "What we want from government is assurance that the proof of vaccination requirement will be rolled out in a way that doesn't penalize businesses whose staff are already working at capacity."
The BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, for example, supports the plan but says it is vital there be a "clear implementation plan, simple rules,
hands-on training and industry support."
Quebec was the first province to launch a vaccine passport, with its app going live today. Quebecers will have a two-week leniency period before penalties of up to $6,000 for vaccine passport fraud will be enforced. Ontario also announced today its plan to introduce proof of vaccination requirements by Sept. 22, with an app available Oct. 22.
In BC, people will need to have at least one dose by Sept. 13 to be allowed in specified settings. That requirement will shift to fully vaccinated for at least seven days as of Oct. 24. The measures will be re-assessed on Jan. 31, 2022, to determine if an extension is required.
The province has not disclosed exactly how penalties will be enforced. We expect businesses will be subject to inspections as with the current mask mandate.
The Chamber adheres to the direction and advice of BC's Provincial Health Officer. We also recognize that many people are struggling with the uncertainty of the pandemic and specifically the Delta variant. We'd like to hear from Chamber members about your questions and concerns regarding BC's Proof of Vaccination proposal. Please keep your commentary civil. We will share productive feedback anonymously with decision makers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't forget to pack your reusable bags when going shopping in the District of Saanich. The municipality's bylaw regulating single-use plastic bags came into effect Aug. 20. Saanich has created posters, till toppers and other printable resources for businesses to help with the transition.
The Chamber continues to work with Greater Victoria municipalities to ensure checkout bag bylaws align and support initiatives implemented by retailers in response to public demand.
On Monday morning, Chamber CEO Bruce Williams brought concerns raised by our members and Chamber Champions to BC's Select Standing Committee on Fiance and Government Services.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce was asked to present to the committee along with the Burnaby Board of Trade, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Surrey Board of Trade. These organizations are leading advocates for business in BC and help government set priorities ahead of next year's BC budget. Among the many issues raised were finding and keeping workers, fair taxation and fiscal prudence.
"We thank the province for including the voice of Greater Victoria businesses and we look forward to continuing to working closely on programs and policies that will be key to growing our region's private sector," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said.
You can listen to Bruce's comments to the committee, starting after the 9:28 mark.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with the provincial government to help ensure a smooth rollout of plans to require proof of vaccination for social and recreational settings starting Sept. 13.
“Keeping businesses open and ensuring the safety of staff and customers is the priority for every employer I’ve talked to,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “It’s frustrating that we’re still dealing with restrictions at this point, but I don’t think anyone is surprised to see yet another curveball from COVID-19. People in Greater Victoria have done a remarkable job in getting immunized and reducing the risk in our region, and from what I’m hearing there’s support for the province’s announcement for a vaccine passport.”
As of Oct, 24, people will need to have been fully vaccinated for at least seven days to be allowed in specified settings. The measures will be re-assessed on Jan. 31, 2022, to determine if an extension is required.
“Right now, we’re working with government on behalf of a number of community partners on how vaccine passports and mask mandates are enforced,” Williams said. “It can’t fall to frontline staff to enforce these policies. Employers are already struggling to find and keep workers, and the prospect of dealing with aggressively opinionated anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers should not be part of the job description.”
Richard Michaels has been named chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s newly formed Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion. The committee will reach out to better include communities that have faced systemic marginalization due to race, ethnicity, gender, physical capabilities or other factors.
“I am proud to be the first chair of this new committee, which recognizes that the demographics of Greater Victoria are evolving and that adapting to this change is fundamental to the sustainability of our region’s economy,” said Michaels, president of MACCRIM Solutions and a member of The Chamber’s Board of Directors. “The Chamber is working to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment that engages businesses owners and entrepreneurs who reflect the full spectrum of our region. This strengthens our organization and ensures everyone in our region’s business community is represented by The Chamber.”
The purpose of the Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion is to offer advice and guidance to help The Chamber create a more inclusive and welcoming business community. The mandate is part of the work the organization has been doing to achieve its vision of being “the region’s most diverse and influential business association.”
In June, The Chamber also announced the creation of an Indigenous Business Task Force to work toward reconciliation by engaging with Indigenous-owned businesses and First Nations to ensure they have access to all opportunities available to help them flourish.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we know things will not be as they were before it started,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “This is the time to take what we’ve learned from successfully adapting to challenging times and make our economy more sustainable. Good business really does build great community for all.”
The provincial government also announced that, starting today, masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces.
“Until we can be sure that everyone we’re interacting with socially has done their part to reduce risk, it makes sense to require masks in situations where we don’t know the vaccination status of others,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “Immunization really is the way out of this and there’s little tolerance for people who don’t have legitimate medical reasons for not getting vaccinated.”
Thursday, Aug. 26 is National Dog Day — a chance to celebrate your furry friend while supporting Chamber members. Look no further for ways to show your dog how much you love them.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce was proud to offer leadership and advocacy in collaboration with Destination Greater Victoria, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority as well as Island chambers of commerce and our regional municipalities. As the voice of business, The Chamber continues to work tirelessly on behalf of our members to make a difference in public policy through advocacy.
“Our marine border is a vital link for our region and we’re thankful the Canada Border Service Agency has found the capacity to staff ferry terminals in the Inner Harbour as of Sept. 7,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said.
“The Victoria Clipper and Coho Ferry connect Greater Victoria with Washington State, which is extremely important for our tourism sector. When land and air borders were initially opened to Americans on Aug. 9, we were alarmed that our marine borders were not included. On behalf of our community partners, The Chamber reached out directly to the federal government and Prime Minister’s Office to make sure they knew how important this link is to our region’s economy.”
Finding staff is a major challenge for businesses, especially in the hospitality sector. The issue is affecting businesses across the province, and, on the Sunshine Coast, one group seems to have found a temporary solution. Coasters helping Coasters is a group of mostly retired seniors who are filling in at restaurants and cafes in Sechelt. Their aim is to help keep their businesses open, but they say the idea could work anywhere.
What do you think about seniors stepping up to help fill vacancies in Greater Victoria? Tell us your thoughts and share your solutions by emailing email@example.com.