A report released Wednesday morning offers a tangible take on how many new homes need to be built in Canada to restore affordability.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation said that the slowing economy and growing population have changed the forecast for where housing is most needed.
We need about 3.5 million new homes by the end of the decade, with BC and Ontario dealing with the largest gaps between supply and demand. The predicted shortfall has grown since last year as the CMHC forecasts a slowing economy, tougher financing climate and stretched labour force will result in less construction.
"For British Columbia, higher estimated household numbers in 2030 and slightly lower estimated income per household lead to a relatively neutral impact on overall demand," the report states. "Still, the supply gap increases because of a lower projected number of housing units that will be built."
The CMHC said its analysis shows the importance of modelling demographic changes as well as economic conditions when planning policies to increase housing supply.
Construction has begun on the Royal BC Museum’s collections and research building in the City of Colwood.
The 15,200 square-metre building will be a state-of-the-art facility using mass timber to house the Province’s collections and BC Archives. There will also be dedicated research labs and learning spaces.
“The provincial collections and archives help us to share the stories of our cultures and communities. It’s vital to ensure they’re kept safe for future generations,” said RBCM's acting CEO Tracey Drake in a news release. “This exceptional facility will also provide a window into the world of the museum, enabling visitors to see our paleontologists, entomologists, botanists, zoologists and more, engaged in active research projects.”
The $270 million project is expected to be substantially completed by fall 2025, a public opening is planned for 2026.
The latest sales figures show a slight increase in the number of homes for sale, though the demand for housing continues to affect the cost of living in our region.
According to the Victoria Real Estate Board, there were 2,490 listings at the end of August. That's up 2.9% from the previous month and higher than the 2,137 homes listed in August 2022.
"The focus in our market and by all levels of government needs to be on opening up more supply," VREB chair Graden Sol said in a news release. "Our inventory levels, though up from last year, are still too low to support a well-balanced market. A decade ago, we saw over 5,000 active listings in August."
Sol noted that many listings were for single family homes, which are at the top of the residential market.
"Missing middle homes, such as townhomes and condos represented only 37.1% of listings for sale," Sol said. "Townhomes, which in my experience are what a lot of families hope to purchase, represented only 9.8% of the residential properties for sale. This imbalance in the mix of housing options means there is the potential for more price pressure on these types of properties because demand is concentrated at more attainable price points."
The benchmark value for a single family home in August was $1,323,900. That 's up $5,100 from July but down $3,800 from last summer.
BC Ferries is waiting to see if it can raise rates, starting next April, to help the organization steer itself through the unsteady waters created by global inflation and the challenges of finding and keeping workers.
There is a shortage of qualified mariners, and new vessels are needed for BC Ferries fleet. The BC Ferries Commission, which is distinct from the provincial government and operations, sets the amount that prices can increase.
The public has until Sept. 30 to contact the commission to provide input to help with its decision. Email email@example.com for more information.
A new report by the Conference Board of Canada's Workplace Mental Health Research Centre found that your organization's policies on absenteeism could directly affect the productivity of employees. The study noted that it's difficult to measure presenteeism — workers pushing through their day despite feeling unwell physically or mentally. A lack of awareness and sense of trust between employer and employees was cited as a common reason for not addressing presenteeism.
“Without formal productivity measures, how can you tell that somebody is showing up and not delivering 100%?" the reports quotes one unnamed employer. "I don’t know that you can.”
Most of the causes for presenteeism were related to symptoms of illness, stress and and trouble sleeping. Stigma around mental health continues to be a major factor for workers punching the clock when feeling unwell. There remains concerns about how disclosing an illness could impact their standing in the workplace.
The report suggests organizations can take active strategies, such as accommodations for caregivers — predominately women — so they can remain on track for career growth and can overcome the many barriers they face.
The conference board established the research centre to increase awareness and understanding of workplace mental health through research, analysis and dialogue.
Social media platforms have revolutionized the way businesses market their products and services. And while a new study shows a growing disaffection with some of the toxic traits of social media, it's clear the Internet is firmly cemented into our everyday lives.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority's recently published Canada's Internet Factbook survey found that people are finding social media less beneficial. In 2023, only 18% said there was a benefit to social media compared to 25% in 2022 and 35% in 2020. Facebook continues to be the most popular platform, used by 65% of British Columbians. YouTube is used by 54%, Instagram by 43% and LinkedIn by 28%.
British Columbians also report a preference for patronizing Canadian retailers when they shop online (67%) and 43% say they primarily shop locally or equally between local and chain stores.
"It seems highly unlikely that our dependence on the internet will decline anytime soon," states the survey's Executive Summary. "In the meantime, the best course of action is to accept the many positives we derive from this indispensable technology while taking whatever positive and intentional actions we can to reduce the impact of the negatives—or even avoid them altogether."
Indigenous business support is one of The Chamber's key advocacy priorities. We all stand to benefit by having First Nations participate in the economy, and that requires supporting self-determination.
The University of Victoria recently received a federal research grant that will allow a team to "design and advance a sustainability framework for decision-making in Indigenous communities that ensures their values, knowledge and concerns are at the forefront as they assess development proposals on their lands."
The UVic team will build off a successful system that has been used for five years with Toquaht Nation in BC, as well as with communities in New Zealand and Indonesia.
“This project is very critical to the empowerment and self-determination of Indigenous governments and peoples," said Cloy-e-iis Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and a member of the project’s Council of Senior Advisors. "Basing models on traditional knowledge and ways of knowing directs the work to be done and utilizes self-determination to its fullest. Sharing models with other Indigenous communities around the world adds to the richness of what can be contained in the models. Establishing their own indicators on what is important to each Nation is also building on governance and putting the decision making in the hands of the people.”
The provincial government announced today that it received more revenue than expected for fiscal 2022-23.
Public Accounts show B.C. ended the year with a $704-million surplus and no operating debt, helped in part by income tax generated by high employment.
BC Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy, who spoke to Chamber members on March 1, said investing in people and businesses is paying off.
“We’ve seen time and again that when we invest in people and the services they count on to build a good life here, it makes our economy stronger and more resilient,” Conroy said in the news release, which also noted that BC has the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in Canada.
The Chamber will continue to work with decision-makers in all levels of government to reduce the tax burden faced by business, while also calling for smart investment.
"These revenue figures show that the province clearly can do better at reducing costs borne by businesses, such as the Employer Health Tax," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The best investment any government can make is creating the right climate for entrepreneurs and businesses, who drive the majority of employment in BC."
The next report on provincial finances will be the first quarterly report for 2023-24 in September.
Is it almost September already? You can feel it in the air — that combination of excitement to start a fresh school year mixed with the bittersweet feeling of the end of summer.
Make the most out of your Labour Day long-weekend by supporting your fellow Chamber members. Celebrate by enjoying a bite out, a night away from home, or plan an action-packed weekend at these local treasures.
After you enjoy the long weekend, you may be getting ready for the return of the school year and your fall routine. Take advantage of The Chamber's exclusive member-only deals and discounts on quality school and office supplies..
Chamber members can save:
The Chamber will be closed Monday, Sept. 4 for Labour Day.
High-interest rates and uncertainty over the state of the economy are behind the tourism industry slowing down after its fast recovery from the pandemic. A report by TD titled "A Slow Road to Recovery for Canadian Tourism Spending," states the industry won't fully recover until about 2025.
Current tourism spending is at about 87% of where it was in 2019.
"Although more price-conscious tourists could weigh on profit margins in the sector, slower demand growth may allow the industry time to overcome labour shortages," the report states.
In BC, tourism employment is the highest its been since 2018 as employers work to overcome challenges finding and keeping staff.
Greater Victoria tourism earns environmental rep
Back in May, Greater Victoria received some love from a feature in Vogue about how we "became a sustainable travel hotspot." the article identifies a number of Chamber members who have helped make Greater Victoria green, including:
Some good news for Greater Victoria's tourism economy as the Victoria Airport Authority approved a proposal to build a 129-room hotel. The three-storey hotel, one of Marriott International’s extended stay brands, will be located on 3.5 acres of commercial zoned land at the corner of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue West.
“The addition of the TownePlace Suites Hotel at YYJ will provide travellers and visitors to the region with convenient access not only to the airport and Sidney, but also to the many amenities and services in the area and the Pat Bay highway into Victoria,” Victoria Airport Authority President and CEO Geoff Dickson said in a news release.
The all-suite hotel will have studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units with fully equipped kitchens, a gym, pool and 1,500 square feet of meeting space. There will also be a full-service restaurant.
Preparations for construction on site will begin in the fall and the hotel is expected to be completed in time for summer 2025.
Housing supply is at the core of Chamber advocacy. Greater Victoria, like much of North America, is facing a crunch — not enough homes are being built to meet demand. This affects the cost of living for employees, delays people from starting a family and impacts the availability of shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
A group of Canadian housing sector organizations recently released the National Housing Accord: A Multi-Sector Approach to Ending Canada’s Rental Housing Crisis. The report offers 10 solutions that aim to focus the efforts of all levels of government and industry on policies to support more building.
"It's a bit of a Catch 22 in that we need skilled tradespeople to build homes so that the market has enough supply for skilled tradespeople to be able to afford to live here," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The lack of housing affects people at all income levels but is particularly concerning for people early in their careers and those who have the added costs that come with raising kids."
Inflation is running hot in Canada, though the relationship between higher prices and the likelihood of the Bank of Canada raising rates is "complicated." The rate was 3.3% in July compared to 2.8% in June. Some of the higher costs are directly related to interest rates, which make some mortgages and loans more expensive and impacts renters as well as homeowners. The summer heat also caused energy demand to soar, and the war in the Ukraine continues to impact food prices worldwide.
The Bank of Canada has been clear that tamping down inflation remains its priority. That means another raise in interest rates remains on the table next month. However, the Conference Board of Canada reports that inflation could be feeding on itself as consumers and businesses have come to expect prices to keep rising.
How is your organization dealing with cost uncertainty? Share your stories or advice for other businesses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the dialogue around remote work seems to have changed from "when is your team going back to the office to how can you adopt a hybrid workplace," you're not alone. The Canadian Chamber's Business Data Lab shows that North American cities are adapting to a new reality. Employers who are facing challenges finding and keeping workers are embracing workforce mobility as a solution. However, the change requires new strategies for ensuring the economic health and safety of urban cores that have lost jobs to the suburbs. The Chamber is working with our regional partners to rethink the role of Downtown Victoria so that it continues to be the vibrant centre of our regional economy.
"We know that our suburban downtowns are thriving, and that's good news for a lot of municipalities in Greater Victoria," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "What we also need to do is make sure that Downtown Victoria continues as a major draw for tourists and a great place to live for residents. Of course, the way we do that is making sure we have a great climate for businesses to thrive so they can provide the goods and services that attract visitors and support locals."
Housing supply is emerging as the root of many challenges facing Greater Victoria and the economy of Canada as a whole. To try and address some of the foundational causes of a lack of housing, the Community Social Planning Council has released a toolkit for local government. Local Government Levers for Housing Affordability addresses how housing affects everything from "staffing shortages to wage pressure to homelessness."
The document gathers policy tools that have been used successfully by large and small municipalities across the country.
A panel of experts has been tasked with developing a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan for the City of Victoria. The goal is to address multiple complex issues such as "declining civility and social cohesion, increasing social disorder, inadequate housing supply and homelessness, poverty, inequality, addictions, mental and physical health challenges, criminal activity and other factors."
The panel will work over the next 15 months to advise Victoria council on immediate interventions as well as long-term solutions.
"I’m in frequent contact with the business community throughout the downtown and beyond and I’m consistently hearing that the impact of the pandemic is far from over," Fort Properties Ltd. CEO/co-owner Suzanne Bradbury said in the city's news release. "I believe that this is the right initiative at the right time and I’m honoured to bring a small business perspective.”
Along with Bradbury, the panel includes:
In Greater Victoria, The Chamber serves as the voice of business by amplifying what we hear from our members. We can then further raise the volume by working with our national network to include the questions and concerns of more than 200,000 businesses across Canada.
A recent example is the 2024 pre-budget recommendations submitted by the Canadian Chamber to the federal government. The submission calls for for investment in trade-enhancing infrastructure, easing the burden of doing business, facilitating the transition to net-zero, enabling an innovative economy, attracting and retaining talent and taking a lead role in life sciences.
To learn more about the work done by The Chamber's Public Policy and Advocacy committee, contact email@example.com.
The Canadian economy continued to show resiliency this spring. Statistics Canada reports that Gross Domestic Product stayed in positive territory. The Bank of Canada will make its next interest rate announcement on Sept. 6.
Business leaders will be watching closely as high-interest rates used to fight inflation have a direct impact on the cost of investment. A Globe and Mail interview with CIBC World Markets' deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal is a good read for insights to help cut through the confusing times. Tal said he thinks interest rates have peaked or are close to the peak. He added that conditions are right for rapid growth in business investment in 2025 as inflation subsides and productivity increases thanks to innovations such as AI.
The City of Victoria is considering a program that will help spruce up the look of businesses in the downtown core. The Business Façade Beautification Reimbursement Program is on the agenda for Thursday's council meeting. The city and the Downtown Victoria Business Association would split the cost of the program.
“This is an incentive to the property owners and the businesses on that block to join together and make their block look better," DVBA CEO Jeff Bray told the Times Colonist. "And I think when you do that over a handful of key blocks, it will be very noticeable.”
The Township of Esquimalt and the Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce introduced the Business Façade Improvement Project this year.
"As the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, we support investment in our very important downtown centres," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "They're not all the same, of course, but they all need to be safe communities. The best way to do that is to support community pride led by local business."
The blue skies of summer appear to reflect the sunny disposition of spenders, according to July's Consumer Confidence Index.
The Conference Board of Canada reported an increase of 5.5 points over the previous month. The long range outlook was more moderate, though it seems a majority of Canadians are hopeful that better economic times are ahead.
In BC, consumers were buoyed by the provincial benefits handed out to more than two million people. The climate tax credit and increased family benefit helped individuals facing higher costs due to inflation.
"We encourage everyone who has been helped by these benefits to remember the importance of helping local business," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Investment in the economy works by supporting the people in our community who provide the goods and services we all rely on."
Arriving at work to find your storefront window smashed or property vandalized can be a nightmare for business owners and their staff. Dealing with the cost of repairs or insurance paperwork can add to the anxiety.
A new provincial program starting in the fall will help businesses invest in preventative measures, and assist with the clean up if a property crime happens. The $10.5 million Securing Small Business Rebate Program will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023.
Businesses can apply for up to $2,000 to help cover the cost of cleaning up broken glass and graffiti and up to $1,000 for vandalism prevention such as security cameras or gates.
The Chamber is calling on the federal government to give businesses who needed help during the pandemic more time to repay their Canada Emergency Business Account loans.
A letter to the federal Finance Minister was signed by more than 240 Canadian business organizations.
"Extending the repayment timeline for the CEBA loan without losing access to the forgivable portion would give many small-and-medium size businesses the stability and certainty they need to get back on their feet on a path to prosperity," states the letter.
Chamber CEO Bruce Williams spoke to CFAX Radio this morning to explain why many businesses need extra time. Across Canada. almost 900,000 CEBA loans were approved during the pandemic.
"Many businesses had no choice but to take on this loan due to circumstances beyond their control," the letter states. "This includes businesses in some of the hardest hit industries such as the retail industry and tourism sector. Mandatory business closures and other government health restrictions left businesses with severe income losses and cash flow issues."
Businesses that need help protecting their intellectual property will have access to a new set of tools through Innovate BC. The province gave Innovate BC $2.5 million to leverage $12.5 million from the federal government going to Accelerate IP.
The investment aims to help the growing knowledge sector of the economy, which includes creators and innovators. Understanding the legal and financial implication of IP can be complex, and the new tools will help make the process easier.
It's been far from a smooth process bringing an end to the strike affecting Canada's Western ports. The "off again on again" strike created a significant disruption to supply lines on the Island and across the country.
The strike has kept $9.9 billion worth of goods from flowing smoothly from the ports to businesses and consumers, according to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
"Every day that the strike is going adds to the uncertainty that many businesses are feeling," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "I spoke with a number of chamber members and we are concerned for smaller businesses that don't have large warehouses to store inventory. Many of these businesses rely on efficient shipping to get specialty foods, parts or items based on current demand. It's also a stressful time for businesses that rely on the ports for exports. Hopefully the backlog caused by the strike will clear up as soon as possible."
Island communities cut off by wildfires received some good news as the province announced Highway 4 will reopen to limited single-lane travel starting this weekend.
Fallen trees and debris that had been blocking the route have now been cleared. As well, mesh curtains suspended by cranes are being deployed to protect passersby as the impacted slope continues to settle alongside the highway.
An alternate route continues to be used by about 1,000 vehicles daily, helping ensure essential goods are available. Tourism support includes increased flights so that visitors can bypass the affected road.