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.
Greater Victoria has officially joined a continent-wide initiative to create high-performance buildings that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The 2030 Districts Network is a non-profit organization working to transform the built environment in cities around the world and promote sustainability.
The Greater Victoria 2030 District consists of 36 buildings and 3.5 million square feet of space, represented by major property managers in the region: Anthem Properties, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Ivanhoe Cambridge, Jawl Properties, Richmond Property Group, Shape Properties, City of Victoria, District of Saanich and the Province of BC.
Businesses, local governments and non-profits can now access larger rebates through CleanBC's Specialty-Use Vehicle Incentive and Commercial Vehicle Pilot programs.
Vehicles eligible for SUVI rebates include medium- and heavy-duty vehicles such as electric-battery or hydrogen-fueled passenger buses, airport and port service vehicles and heavy-duty transport trucks, as well as smaller specialty-use vehicles such as motorcycles, cargo e-bikes, and low-speed utility trucks. Rebates will now cover 33% of the cost, up to a maximum of $100,000 per vehicle.
Organizations can also access $11 million for piloting unique or large deployments of medium- and heavy-duty or very large electric vehicles, such as domestic air, marine or rail transportation through the CVP program. Eligible applicants can compete to receive up to one-third of total costs in rebates for vehicles and charging or refueling infrastructure.
Can a gondola help make it easier to move commuters between the West Shore and downtown Victoria? It's not so far fetched.
Embracing opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be a major theme in 2021. The Chamber has long been an advocate for innovations led by business as the most realistic approach to mitigating climate change.
Colwood Mayor Rob Martin has a vision to turn 10-acres of city-owned land into a park-and-ride featuring a gondola to move people from a site behind the new Royal BC Museum archive building to a proposed ferry terminal at Royal Bay. The idea is to reduce space needed along the waterfront for a commuter ferry, which already has the blessing of BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins.
The Chamber supports the idea of reducing vehicle traffic between downtown and the West Shore, and we would like to see the province fund a study to determine the feasibility of Martin's plan.
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.
Ensuring all sectors play a role in recovering from the pandemic is one of the key elements of Reboot: Greater Victoria's Economic Recovery Plan. The report, released Monday, is the work of the Rising Economy Taskforce, which brought together 40 business, community, government and academic leaders to work on 12 sector committees.
"I worked closely with other community leaders and the South Island Prosperity Partnership, and I think this report is an invaluable tool for making decisions about where we want to see investments made to achieve a full and equitable recovery," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said.
Among the recommendations are a call to embrace the 21st-century innovation economy and the creation of an Indigenous Economic Development Office.
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.
The Capital Regional District has launched a new program to help businesses in the region check the efficiency of faucets used for hand-washing. If the faucet isn't operating at maximum efficiency, the CRD will replace the faucet's aerator for free.
The new aerators use less than two litres of water per minute, compared to as much as 11 litres per minute in older faucets. The update can save businesses money and waste less water. The regional district estimates that 25% of all water in Greater Victoria is used for commercial and industrial purposes. That adds up to 10 billion litres per year.
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The Chamber strongly supports Greater Victoria mayors who are calling on the new provincial government to do better to improve regional transportation on southern Vancouver Island. Specifically, we have been calling for a regional approach to how transportation is governed. We need to think broadly to address transportation issues and take advantage of opportunities to create 21st century solutions.
The mayors of Saanich, Victoria, Colwood and View Royal were among the group that co-authored a letter to the province.
The Chamber supports efforts to protect the environment from harmful single-use plastics, and we call on governments to work with businesses to support innovations that address these concerns.
Today's announcement from federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to eliminate waste plastic by 2030 is welcome news. The plan is to target single-use plastics, specifically plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and hard-to-recycle food containers.
Having a national strategy will help ensure the rules are standardized so that businesses understand their requirements. The public has, for many years, supported businesses that provided alternatives to plastic waste. Going forward, governments need to ensure they are following the lead of the public and businesses in order to get the best response to this new initiative.