The border with the US will open sooner under a Joe Biden presidency than if Donald Trump had stayed in power, says Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
With a more focused, hands-on approach to controlling COVID, Biden stands a better chance of putting the pandemic behind us than did the chaotic approach of the last administration.
Beatty was the guest of The Chamber, earlier today, for our latest Business Restart Series video. The conversation focused on Canada-US relations, which Beatty compared to resembling the "mating dance of the stickleback" under Trump.
However, Canadians shouldn't get too comfortable after today's inauguration. The Democrats have historically been more protectionist than Republicans, and relations will be more complicated than "Trump/bad, Biden/good."
Closer to home, Beatty says our immediate focus needs to be on controlling the pandemic in Canada. We've had a "crazy quilt of approaches" to stopping the spread of the virus, Beatty says. A national approach is needed rather than regional restrictions. The biggest risk to business is the yo-yo effect of opening and closing, which disrupts operations and makes planning impossible.
"What worries me when I look at it today, the Team Canada approach (we had in the spring of 2020) is fraying. People are feeling victimized and powerless," Beatty said, saying it's within each of us to use the tools and knowledge we have to stop the spread. "We're not powerless."
Missed the live event? Register online to access the video recording.
If you have ideas on future uses of the former Oak Bay Lodge, the Capital Regional Health District wants to hear from you. The CRHD, a corporation of the Capital Regional District, has set up a website to engage with the community about the redevelopment of the lodge property. The senior care facility closed last summer, after moving all tenants to The Summit on Hillside Avenue.
“Working with the community to reimagine the future use of the property is a high priority project for the region,” said CRHD Board Chair Denise Blackwell.
For details on upcoming virtual open houses, as well as a feedback form and discussion guide, go to crd.bc.ca.
The City of Victoria has reached out for public input on its 2021 Draft Budget. Municipalities in BC typically begin their budget process early in the new year by compiling a wishlist that is then whittled down during deliberations. Victoria says it wants to keep any tax increase down to 1% plus inflation by focusing on essential services. To have your say on what Victoria is proposing, go to engage.victoria.ca to fill out a survey and get details on a Jan. 19 town hall.
With property assessments increasing across the board in the region, municipalities will need to adjust rates to cover their costs without increasing taxes for all property owners. The District of Saanich's website, which includes the graphic above, has good information on the financial planning process. The provincial government requires all BC municipalities to adopt their financial plans by March 31, and their annual tax rate bylaws by May 15 each year.
The Chamber will continue to advocate for fair rules to ensure municipalities don't burden businesses by raising commercial property taxes. As Chamber members, Victoria, Saanich, Langford, Colwood, Esquimalt and View Royal have shown leadership by ensuring fair financial plans. If you have questions or comments about the budget process in any of these municipalites, contact The Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to advocate on your behalf.
We're now eight months into the pandemic in BC, and businesses are finding their way — often with help from government relief programs that have been rolling out since the spring. On Tuesday, The Chamber hosted the latest offering in our Business Restart Series with tax experts Kris Wirk and Matthew Hohnsbehn. If you didn't have a chance to watch live, you can still view the recorded video.
Kris and Matthew provided insight into the most popular programs, including updates and changes to what you need to apply. This video is particularly timely for businesses that are accessing the wage subsidy, the emergency business account and the recently revised emergency rent subsidy.
Register to watch the video
Victoria continues to shine on the international stage as Monocle magazine has named our city one of the top five small cities in the world.
“Victoria is at the heart of a vibrant South Island region. Our city has made an effort over the last few years to diversify our economy, especially in our ocean research and technology sectors, drawing new talent and energy into our region,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said in the City of Victoria's news release. “Despite the recent challenges of the pandemic, this recognition reinforces the fact that we continue to be one of the most desirable places to live and work in the world.”
Porto, Portugal, topped the list followed by Leuven, Belgium, Itoshima, Japan and Lucerne, Switzerland.
The list features cities that Monocle's editors believe are the best options for people looking to move away from big cities. The top small cities were selected in part because they are well connected internationally, and have progressive and nimble local leadership.
Meet the candidates: Chamber hosts discussion on priority issues for business in Victoria
The Chamber hosted a virtual Candidate Discussion today ahead of the City of Victoria's by-election on Dec. 12.
The panel featured five candidates selected for their experience and approach to business issues facing the city. We also think voters should be aware of which candidates are running as independents, and who is running on behalf of a slate. The five who took part in the discussion:
You can watch the video at victoriachamber.ca/vicbyelection. On the same page you can find the Questions and Answers open to all 11 candidates on the ballot.
For more information on when and where to vote, including for those who own property in the city but reside outside it, go to victoria.ca.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce proudly announced the first members of the Chamber Champions initiative at the Annual General Meeting Tuesday afternoon. The Champions are a new, highly engaged echelon of membership designed to connect these business and community leaders through vigorous dialogue and strategic discussions about the recovery and resilience of our Greater Victoria economy.
“The Champions are just as the title says, they are offering their resource to champion the work of The Chamber in support of our members,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. “This sort of leadership is more important now than at any other time in The Chamber’s 157-year history. The Chamber matters more than ever, and these leaders represent a clear voice.”
This first announcement of Champions welcomes:
Many more will be announced in the weeks and months ahead.
“MNP works with clients on business planning and advisory services, tax strategies, accounting and helping to make strategic decisions about the future," says Steve Wellburn, Partner, Private Enterprise with MNP Victoria. "Given the exceptional challenges and opportunities our local businesses are facing right now, the Chamber Champion program is extremely timely and we’re proud to be involved as a partner.”
Chamber CEO Bruce Williams has started a new series of video podcasts — vodcasts — we're calling Chamber Chats.
Real Estate Analysis
The first vodcast includes experts from the Victoria Real Estate Board, including president Sandi-Jo Ayers, president-elect David Langlois and executive officer David Corey. The vodcast is timely as real estate sales continue to set records in Greater Victoria. Our region saw 990 property sales in October — almost 60% more than October 2019.
The second vodcast is a discussion with an expert on vaccine research. Dr. Srinivas Murthy is the co-chair of the WHO clinical research committee on COVID-19, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, and a critical care and infectious diseases physician at the BC Children’s Hospital.
With so many people waiting for a vaccine, find out what the science says about when that will be and what it means for Vancouver Island and BC.
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.
Chamber CEO Bruce Williams spreads the word about the importance of shopping locally — especially during Small Business Month. Williams joined City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray on Government Street for a media event yesterday.
"It's never been more important for us to support each other, and The Chamber celebrates the many businesses that are working so hard to get through this time together," Williams says. "By sharing the story of Small Business Month, we want to encourage everyone in our region to pitch in and support local businesses."