Greater Victoria's business community has a well-deserved reputation for its compassion and generosity.
The Chamber is hearing from members who want to help people fleeing the ongoing war in Ukraine.
"We're connecting with our national chamber network and have reached out to the federal minister of immigration," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We want refugees arriving in Canada to know that Greater Victoria is a welcoming community."
Canada has approved more than 91,000 of the 204,000 applications it has received through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel process. Less than 2,000 will likely be re-located to Vancouver Island. However, those that do will need housing and, in many cases, jobs to help them integrate into our community.
The Chamber is working with our community partners to identify potential opportunities for billets or temporary housing. Employers in Greater Victoria can help by posting any job openings to a special federal job bank for Ukrainian refugees.
"We know many of our members have opportunities for skilled workers and we will do everything we can to try and provide stability for Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homeland through no fault of their own," Williams said.
The arrival of Holland America's 1,200 passenger Koningsdam last Saturday was a welcome sight for Greater Victoria's business community. It was the first time in more than 900 days that a cruise ship had sailed into Ogden Point.
Chamber CEO Bruce Williams was on hand to emcee a welcoming celebration, hosted by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
“Normal isn’t quite a word we can use yet,” Williams said to Global News. “But by seeing things recovering in the sense that we can now gather like we are, and see things coming back like this ship, means we are indeed on the way to recovery, and getting ourselves back to the way were were before, so it’s a great feeling of pride."
The 2022 cruise ship season will see 364 ship calls from now until early November with an anticipated 780,000 passengers.
The Chamber held its 2022 AGM on Tuesday, with about 130 people gathering for our largest in-person event in two years.
Attendees celebrated the success of The Chamber and heard from the Hon. Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, about the province's plans for helping the region recover from the pandemic.
Fleming spoke about plans to rebuild and improve roads and other infrastructure damaged by climate events in 2021. The minister also spoke about creating rapid bus corridors in the region, and making the business case for modernizing Belleville Terminal. "The time is now to make that investment," Fleming told the audience.
Other topics that The Chamber has advocated for included investing in a deep water port on Vancouver Island to help BC's supply chain, creating a transit hub at Uptown and investing in shore power at Ogden Point.
Finding and keeping workers starts with connections.
On Monday, The Chamber teamed up with the University of Victoria and the UVic Students’ Society to connect thousands of students with more than 60 employers in Greater Victoria.
About two-thirds of all students at UVic typically work while undertaking their studies. This has traditionally been a key addition to Greater Victoria’s labour force, especially as the region has one of the highest employment rates in the country.
Monday's Hiring Day event attracted 63 employers, ranging from financial institutions to tourism and hospitality businesses.
"We are proud to have a long-standing partnership with The Chamber — students can make a real impact in workplaces across the region, and they are key to supporting the economic recovery in this community. This type of hiring event helps facilitate these important connections,” said Andrea Giles, Executive Director of UVic’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services.
People are showing their support for Greater Victoria's Ukrainian community as their homeland remains under siege by Vladimir Putin's Russian forces. Several thousand people attended a rally at the BC Legislature on Sunday, and The Flag Shop has been working non-stop to try to meet the demand of people wanting the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.
The flag has been displayed in numerous places across the region, including on top of the Hotel Grand Pacific.
As well, the Times Colonist published a pullout Ukraine flag in the print edition of Wednesday's paper.
There is also a growing call to fast-track immigration for people fleeing the Ukraine and looking to start a new life in Canada. The federal government has approved more than 4,000 applications from Ukrainians who were in line to immigrate here. The government also extended temporary status for Ukrainians already in Canada to work, study or visit.
If you're interested in learning more about the situation in Ukraine, the University of Victoria is hosting a free Teach-In tonight at 4:30 pm. UVic experts on Ukraine will help explain what is happening and how to help.
BC Minister of Finance Selina Robinson met with Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce members today to address your questions about the province's 2022 Budget, unveiled yesterday.
Minister Robinson expects economic growth even as provincial debt increases.
This year's $71 billion budget is forecast to have a deficit of $5.5 billion, followed by a $4.2 billion deficit in 2023/24. Robinson said the main reasons for the deficits are the anticipated costs of rebuilding damaged transportation infrastructure to withstand future climate events.
Asked whether the province planned to ease the burdens of the EHT — which took $207 million more than anticipated from BC employers last year — or paid sick days, the minister defended the government's current policies. She also acknowledged concerns about linking the minimum wage to inflation and said she will work to make the change as smooth and predictable as possible for business.
Greater Victoria is getting two complex care facilities, though specific locations were not announced. The budget also includes $84 million over three years for planning and capital funding for upgrading the Belleville Terminal.
The tourism sector has been allocated $25 million to help with recovery efforts, though a further $915 million was set aside for potential pandemic-related expenses, including health care costs or economic recovery funding.
Greater Victoria is also in line for numerous “bus and shoulder” expansions to improve regional transit, and money has been earmarked for the transit hub at Uptown in Saanich.
“The Chamber has long advocated for child care as an investment in our economy, and we applaud the province’s commitment to adding 40,000 new spaces within seven years. We also are encouraged by some of the steps to address our lack of housing supply,” Williams said.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce welcomes news from the federal and provincial governments that will boost business in our region.
“I’m not much of a dancer. However, I think many of us are doing a little jig — either in our mind or literally — upon hearing this news,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. “The sun is shining a little brighter and the birds are singing a little sweeter today. We are all ready to soar after a long winter of doing what we needed to keep each other safe. Let’s keep moving forward and respect each other as we find our footing and our own pace as we begin to step a little lighter.”
The federal government’s announcement on Tuesday will make it easier for visitors to travel to our destination and enjoy all of the attractions, goods and experiences we have to offer. Starting Feb. 28, fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Canada from any country will face easier testing requirements. As well, Transport Canada will allow international flights to return to more Canadian airports starting Feb. 28.
Also, BC’s Provincial Health Officer has updated the timeline for easing restrictions in British Columbia. This is great news for the events industry, fitness centres, dance clubs and organizations such as sports teams that depend on ticket sales.
The province is lifting capacity restrictions on gatherings and events; exercise and fitness; and bars, clubs and restaurants as of 11:59 p.m., Feb. 16.
For now, business will still be required to have COVID-19 Safety Plans. As well, masks and the BC Vaccine Pass are still required in indoor public spaces.
Renowned lawyer Ron Lou-Poy — one of the inaugural inductees into The Chamber's Business Hall of Fame — has died. He was 88.
All of us at The Chamber want to express our deepest condolences to Lou-Poy's family and the many people who were touched by his generous spirit in life.
We are deeply grateful for the role he had in making our community a vibrant, inclusive and caring place to live. We hope the many happy memories of Lou-Poy's well-lived life can soothe some of the sadness.
As a positive step toward being the region's most diverse and influential business association, The Chamber launched a new committee this year. Initially known as the Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion, one of its first decisions was to change the committee name to the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Advancement (IDEA) Committee.
The committee's mission is to foster diversity and inclusion and break through biases to achieve equity, which will only strengthen our business and community connections.
February marks Black History Month and The Chamber strongly encourages everyone to learn more about the stories, struggles and accomplishments of Black Canadians.
There have been Black communities in BC since 1858. In that year, Nancy and Charles Alexander were one of the first Black families in Greater Victoria. The Alexanders settled on the corner of what is now Douglas and Fisgard streets before relocating to the District of Saanich, where they farmed for 33 years and raised 10 children. Charles built the first school house in the area and served as a school trustee.
Who doesn't love a good chart, especially when they remind us that there's a lot to be optimistic about despite our current uncertainty. Stephen Tapp, chief economist with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, put together his insights on Canada's labour force. Data shows that employment recovery exceeded expectations in 2021, though the Omicron wave will undoubtedly drag down the numbers for the next reporting period. "Even before these restrictions, many small businesses were struggling with rising input costs, labour difficulties and supply chain disruptions," Tapp says.
Once you're done perusing Tapp's charts, you might want to check out Maclean's Chart Week 2022. The national magazine offers a handful of charts showing how Canada's economy is faring in a number of areas.
As we head into the heart of the holiday season, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has put together a wish list for a few of the things we want in 2022:
"Good business builds great community, and we look forward to helping our members connect and grow in 2022," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "We'll continue working on our advocacy efforts to ensure business can get the investments they need to continue leading the way on sustainability, inclusion and resilience."
Let us know what your wish is for the business community in 2022, and how we can help you achieve success in the year ahead.
Supporting your neighbours starts with thinking locally.
“In an effort to help people choose to shop at Greater Victoria retailers this holiday season, The Chamber is putting our money where our mouth is and paying the cost of shipping,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. “We all benefit from a strong regional economy and it’s up to each of us to do our part to help with the ongoing recovery.”
Effective immediately, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is encouraging holiday shoppers to choose local. The Chamber will cover the cost of shipping for items purchased from Chamber businesses and delivered by proud Chamber Courier partners.
The last two years have been challenging for retailers, but the forecast is for Canadians to spend more this holiday season. The Retail Council of Canada recently released a survey that shows people are feeling more confident with their finances this year.
Buying online from local retailers is also a good way to support our economic recovery and conserve a little gas by letting someone else do the delivery.
For more information on The Chamber’s Shop #ChamberLocalVicBC campaign, visit our website at victoriachamber.ca and make sure to follow us on social media.
If your business is interested in taking part in this initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org right away.
Media Coverage: Shop #ChamberLocalVicBC
The Chamber hosted a successful Annual General Meeting yesterday. Members were able to make connections over lunch and hear directly from BC's Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
The Hon. Ravi Kahlon spoke about how the provincial government plans to work with business, and answered questions about our ongoing economic recovery. Much of the focus was on helping employers find and keep workers.
"Minister Kahlon is very accessible to The Chamber and I believe he truly wants to hear from our members about challenges facing business in Greater Victoria," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We're looking forward to offering more in-person events for our members to build relationships with each other, and to speak directly with decision makers in government."
The AGM also saw members unanimously approve a by-law change allowing the Board of Directors to extend the term of the board chair in dire circumstances, such as natural disaster, pandemic or an extreme financial situation.
Thank you to all of our members who voted for The Chamber's 2022 Board of Directors. It was a very competitive election this year, with 11 excellent candidates vying for four seats.
Jessica Stigant, Associate Director of Government Relations and Partnerships for Ocean Networks Canada, and James Gatsi, founder and CEO of CL Web Developers Inc., have been elected to two-year terms on The Chamber Board. Incumbent candidates Rose Arsenault, Agilus Work Solutions and Tom Plumb, Kinetic Construction were also re-elected.
The Chamber holds staggered elections every fall, so we can maintain continuity while ensuring fresh voices are able to join the table.
Jessica, James, Rose and Tom will join John Wilson, Kris Wirk, Christina Clarke, Moira Hauk, Judith Ethier, Pedro Marquez, Richard Michaels, Ann Squires Ferguson as well as past chair Dan Dagg as members of the 2022 board when its term begins on Jan. 1.
"The Chamber is also pleased to announce we will have two other new faces on the board," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We maintain a seat at the table for whoever is the current Base Commander of CFB Esquimalt. So, when Capt. (N) Sam Sader was re-assigned to a new post in Ottawa, we welcomed new Base Commander, Capt. (N) J. Jeffery Hutchinson to the table. As well, the incoming chair of The Chamber’s Prodigy committee, Paul van Koll, will join the board starting Jan. 1, 2022."
The cost of housing remains a sore spot for Greater Victoria, but the quality of life, economy and other factors helped the region earn a B grade from the Victoria Foundation's 2021 Vital Signs report.
"The Chamber was happy to sponsor the section of the report that looked at Greater Victoria's economy," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The grades helps us understand the state of our region, where we're doing well and how we can improve going forward."
The 18th edition of the annual report measures our region's wellbeing through qualitative data as well as stories and graphics to provide snapshots of the year that was.
This year's theme explores equity and inclusion. The pandemic has emphasized that we might be in the storm, but we're not all in the same boat.
The report looks at 12 areas, with grades ranging from a B-plus for Learning and Sports and Recreation, to a D-plus for Housing and Getting Started. The Economy rated a B-minus.
As well as The Chamber, other Vitals Signs sponsors include Coast Capital, CHEK News, Page One, Black Press, Tecnet, Maycock Eyecare, Urban Sytsems, Oakcrest Park Estates and CIBC.
The Chamber is pleased to welcome the newest member of our Board of Directors, Capt. (N) J. Jeffery Hutchinson, CFB Esquimalt's new base commander. Hutchinson takes over from Capt. (N) Sam Sader who has been reassigned to a new role in Ottawa.
Hutchinson served on HMC Ships Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver, Calgary and Algonquin before becoming the commanding officer of HMCS Winnipeg in January 2016. Hutchinson has also worked as Director Naval Strategic Management at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. He is married with two daughters.
As with previous CFB Esquimalt Base Commanders, The Chamber appointed Capt. (N) Hutchinson to its Board of Directors. He also serves on The Chamber's Public Policy and Advocacy Committee.
Sept. 30 is National Truth and Reconciliation Day — a time to reflect on the history of residential schools and to listen with purpose to the stories of our Indigenous friends and neighbours.
Municipalities across Greater Victoria are hosting events to commemorate and celebrate indigenous voices, including:
The City of Victoria will be hosting the Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony from noon to 2:30 pm at Centennial Square. The event will include Indigenous performances, a minute of silence, and guest speakers sharing their personal experiences with residential schools and reconciliation.
The District of Oak Bay will be hosting events through the group ReconciliACTION Oak Bay – beginning in front of Oak Bay High School at 10 am, the event will honour residential school survivors with members of the Songhees Nation sharing their wisdom.
The City of Colwood will be presenting the Na'tsa'maht Gathering in honour of Truth and Reconciliation. The event will take place from 10 am – 4 pm at Royal Beach, and will include traditional songs, drumming, dancing and more.
The Corporation of the District of Saanich will be lighting the municipal hall orange on the evenings of September 29-30, and the flag will be lowered to half-mast.
The Township of Esquimalt has illuminated the Archie Browning Sports Centre in orange this week, and will continue to do so until September 30.
Along with the region’s municipalities, post-secondary institutions have committed to close their campuses on Sept. 30 and are offering informative and inclusive events:
The University of Victoria has been hosting various reconciliation events throughout the week. From film screenings at the First People’s House to livestreamed educational sessions, the university also has orange shirts designed by Carey Newman Hayalthkin’geme available at the bookstore. University President Kevin Hall will be detailing UVic’s calls to action and the role of education for Truth and Reconciliation.
Royal Roads University invites the community to join in virtual learning and events to honour the strength and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, including the #DrumForTheChildren virtual event at 2:15 with the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation. On and around campus, many will share on social media their commitment to reconciliation wearing the limited-edition Orange Shirt with a powerful logo of the Heron People Circle (elder and old ones) by member Clarence “Butch” Dick of Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees) Nation.
Camosun College hosted their Orange Shirt Day event Wednesday at 1 pm. Attendees were invited to create love baskets filled with treats and medicines. The baskets will be delivered to residential school survivors who work closely with the college.
The federal government has work to do after Alaskan politicians proposed changing an Act that has been a keystone in the development of Greater Victoria's cruise ship industry.
The Chamber continues working with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and other community partners to make sure all levels of government are prioritizing this issue.
The federal and provincial governments responded to our earlier calls to action, ending the prohibition on cruise ships in Canada on Nov. 1 instead of waiting until next year. The industry contributes $130 million annually to our region's economy and provides more than 800 jobs.
How does your business plan to mark Canada's first National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30?
Canada's civil service will take the day off with pay. As well, the province and numerous institutions such as the University of Victoria, Camosun College and the Greater Victoria School District are also giving staff the day off.
“The Chamber has also made the decision to close our office on Sept. 30. We felt it was the right thing to do for our organization and reflects the decision we made, earlier in the summer, to create a new task force to help Indigenous entrepreneurs and First Nation businesses fully participate in Greater Victoria’s business community,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said, noting that the day is not a statutory holiday according to BC's Employment Standards Act. “Every organization will make their own decisions based on their business and sector.”
The Chamber will be using our Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter channels to reflect on the importance of this day as well as ongoing efforts to support the reconciliation process. Please follow and share, and let us know if you're planning anything to mark the day by emailing email@example.com.
For more resources to help your organization, click here.
It was an emotional moment last Friday when the Victoria Clipper sailed into the Inner Harbour for the first time since the pandemic began. Families waited anxiously for the boat to dock so they could reunite with relatives.
For business leaders, there was also a sense of relief as a vital link for our visitor economy was finally restored.
The federal government re-opened the marine border after vocal advocacy efforts by The Chamber, Clipper Navigation and our community partners, including Destination Greater Victoria and the City of Victoria. And a special thanks to CFB Esquimalt, Harbour Ferries and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority for helping make the welcome back event so special!
There's a new way to watch programming on CHEK, after the employee-owned broadcaster launched the CHEK+ app today. This marks the first dedicated streaming and on-demand service for the local media company.
“We are excited about the launch of CHEK+," CHEK Media Group's GM Rob Germain said in a news release. "CHEK+ marks the evolution of CHEK, to a truly multi-media
company serving Vancouver Island and beyond.”
CHEK+ can be downloaded on Apple TV, iOS, Android Mobile and some Android TV devices. No cable connection or subscription fee is required.
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.
Pavan Nirwan joins The Chamber with two decades of experience as a trusted strategic advisor, guiding stakeholders on government relations, business development, community and stakeholder engagement. Through her work in the public and private sector, Pavan has a proven record of establishing and maintaining relations with domestic and international governments and stakeholders.
As the Director of Stakeholder and Government Relations, Pavan looks forward to leading engagement and issues management with external stakeholders. These groups will include provincial, municipal, federal governments, community groups, and other partners. Pavan will also be working on the February 2022 launch of the Business Hall of Fame presented by RBC.
You can connect with Pavan at 250 360-3479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chamber is part of a national network helping businesses build a more sustainable future. The Net-Zero Strategy includes innovations in supply chains and renewable energy as well as other actions.
"To ensure Canada’s pathway to net-zero is competitive, enhances investment, creates jobs for Canadians and promotes innovation, how we get there matters," states the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "Investments that support business-led transitions, offset market development, and a predictable business environment are crucial to meeting these goals. Canada’s business community is eager to collaborate with government to develop the framework to enable the greatest economic opportunity for the next generation."
The Canadian Chamber is also playing a key role in advocating for a National Climate Adaption Strategy to protect people from increasing episodes of heat, wildfire and flooding.