The future of transportation will include a blend of public and private options, with more convenient transit and car-sharing playing roles. A recently formed citizens' group, Better Mobility Saanich, has reached out to the District of Saanich to encourage adoption of services such as Evo, which currently has a fleet available in the City of Victoria. With Evo, members are able find cars parked within a "home zone" and pay a small fee that lets you drive as needed. When you're done, you park the car back in the home zone.
Financial support is available for First Nations and Indigenous entrepreneurs looking to produce or process food, or other associated activities. The BC Indigenous Agriculture Development Program provides up to $8,000 for specialized planning and coaching services to help develop food and agricultural businesses.
Food security is a priority for our region, and tapping into Indigenous knowledge about sustainable production on their traditional territories can only help as we continue to face challenges due to climate events.
The program is first-come first-serve and will be available until all of the ascribed funding is allocated.
A ferry between the City of Colwood and downtown Victoria continues to break waves. The Capital Regional District's Transportation Committee looked at the concept last week and decided the idea is worth a feasibility study. The CRD's board will now vote on May 12 to decide whether to work with the province and other partners to pursue the study.
"In a region surrounded by water, it would be irresponsible not to fully explore the feasibility of marine travel as one approach to addressing traffic congestion and achieving our active transportation and clean energy goals," Colwood mayor Rob Martin said in a news release.
Last year, BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins told a Chamber Business Restart Series that a ferry from Royal Bay to Victoria could make a profit. The route would connect to Ship Point and, potentially, Esquimalt and service commuters working downtown or at the naval base.
The City of Victoria is in the process of bringing back a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The revised bylaw goes to final reading on April 15.
The bylaw has been approved by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The District of Saanich will vote on June 15 to restrict plastic bags in that municipality.
“The Chamber worked closely with the City to ensure the bylaw reflected the work already being done by businesses to reduce waste and look after customer requests,” Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams says. “The public asked for this change and businesses responded. Victoria is to be commended for shaping the bylaw to ensure adoption by businesses, and for using a model that allows for seamless adoption of these regulations across our region.”
Improved infrastructure and more environmentally sustainable buses are being welcomed by the University of Victoria. On Tuesday, the federal and provincial governments announced funding to provide BC Transit with six natural-gas buses that will replace diesel buses currently in the system. As well, UVic is getting an enhanced transit exchange on campus that includes better paths and bike storage to encourage students to cycle to school.
“This project will help us reach our goal of having 70% of all trips to and from campus facilitated by public transit or active transportation," UVic's president and vice-chancellor Kevin Hall says. "These transit improvements complement our Campus Cycling Plan and give our campus community and neighbours greener and healthier commuting choices from their doorstep to school, work and play.”
The new buses will be fueled by compressed or renewable natural gas, and replace buses at the end of their service life.
The federal contribution will be $4.9 million while the province will provide $4.5 million. The Victoria Regional Transit Commission and UVic will chip in $1.9 million.
The City of Victoria is extending its network of bike lanes, adding 4.8 kilometres with a recently approved plan. The new lanes will serve riders of all ages and abilities and connect Fernwood, Oaklands and the Jubilee area with downtown.
Safe cycling lanes encourage active commuting, contribute to safe cities and help employers' efforts to find and keep workers. To have your say in the ongoing discussion about the city's cycling network, visit engage.victoria.ca.
One of the consequences of the pandemic was that a number of things were put on hold. Among them were restrictions on plastic bags as uncertainty about how COVID-19 spread created concerns around reusable alternatives. With a better understanding of the science, consumers are once again creating a demand for less plastic waste.
On April 15, the City of Victoria is scheduled to bring back a revised bylaw restricting plastic bags. Businesses can pick up a tool kit with posters, till toppers and fact sheets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The District of Saanich is also bringing back restrictions on plastic bags. Saanich council voted on Monday to add the bylaw to its June 15 meeting for final adoption.
Last week, the provincial government announced a new option for its workers who live on the West Shore. The Westhills ShareSpace office in Langford offers about 10,000-square-feet of offices that allow for co-working areas and private spaces.
"Having this hub in Langford will allow residents to work close to home, get out of traffic, and spend more time with their families, creating a better work/life balance,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said in the news release issued by the province.
About 2,000 BC government workers, or 20% of its Greater Victoria workforce, live in West Shore communities. The Chamber supports the move as a transportation solution that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, moving government workers out of downtown needs to be done in consultation with businesses.
On CBC's On The Island, Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said it's vital we grow the economy without pitting communities in the region against each other.
"The workers downtown are a huge part of that downtown economy," Williams said.
A strong public sector and consistently low cases of COVID-19 helped Vancouver Island place six communities in the Top 10 Most Resilient Cities in BC, according to BC Business Magazine.
The City of Langford ranks No. 1 overall for its continued growth during the pandemic, with high volumes of residential home sales, housing starts and one of the youngest populations in the province. The move to employees working from home was another factor in Langford's favour, giving communities outside urban cores more points than in previous polls. Cities that rely heavily on tourism were typically farther down the list this year.
The Township of Esquimalt has joined the group of BC municipalities that have banned single-use plastics. On Monday, the province approved Esquimalt's bylaw along with bylaws from Surrey, Nanaimo and Rossland.
The City of Victoria and District of Saanich have already had their proposed bans approved by the province, which has jurisdiction over environmental matters. The Chamber was instrumental in helping Victoria and Saanich work with businesses to ensure their bylaws complimented practices in place due to consumer demand. We also worked with Esquimalt and other municipalities in the region to make sure regulations were seamless across borders.