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.
The Chamber applauds Monday's news that the province has purchased 3.4 hectares of land at Thetis Cove in View Royal for $13 million to support reconciliation with Esquimalt Nation.
Working with First Nations is vital for the long-term resilience of Greater Victoria's economy. Indigenous communities can help regional employers fill job vacancies without having to hope for migration from other parts of Canada. Local populations are also key to innovations that will allow businesses to provide solutions to climate change.
The province will hold the property during negotiations with Esquimalt Nation, which are expected to take up to five years.
“While we are at the beginning of our discussions with Esquimalt Nation and the broader community about the land, we see its significant potential for supporting Esquimalt Nation to thrive and prosper, which benefits everyone who lives in the region,” BC's Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin said in a news release.
The deal will also support treaty discussions with the Songhees Nation, as well as providing new opportunities for View Royal.
“We are looking forward to working with Esquimalt Nation and the Province in a collaborative way that considers all of our interests as the future plans for Thetis Cove are developed,” said View Royal Mayor David Screech. “As neighbours, Esquimalt Nation and View Royal have much to gain from working together.”
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.