BC has started the next phase of the largest immunization effort in its history, and initial reports are that the province-led rollout has gone well. Under Phase 3, everyone in British Columbia can follow three steps to get vaccinated. After registering online or over the phone, you will be contacted to book an appointment when you are eligible based on where you fit in the criteria for the immunization plan. In Greater Victoria, first doses of vaccine will be administered at seven sites including the University of Victoria, Victoria Conference Centre and the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
As the third wave of COVID-19 hits BC, the province remains committed to providing everyone in BC with a first dose of vaccine by July 1, setting the stage for loosening of restrictions over the summer.
Celebrity sightings in Greater Victoria are a welcome reminder of the role the film industry plays in sustainable economic growth of our region. Chamber CEO Bruce Williams was interviewed by CTV Vancouver Island on Monday about the opportunity to invest in production infrastructure.
"Having the film people in town is a big boost in many ways to the economy," Williams said, noting that hosting film and television crews provides benefits to the tourism and hospitality industry.
"They are spending money, they are renting things, they're staying in hotels (and) they're going to restaurants."
The Chamber is actively advocating for investment in film production facilities in Greater Victoria.
We continue to work with the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission as well as Malahat Film Studios, Camosun College, the District of Saanich and all of our partners working on bringing production facilities to our region.
Property crime has been one of the most visible signs of disruption caused by the pandemic. In response, the Downtown Victoria Business Association and the City of Victoria are partnering to provide grants to businesses affected by vandalism. The grants are available .
Up to $1,000 is available to eligible businesses located within the city. Affected businesses must be able to show proof — insurance deductible, police file number and repair receipts. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The pandemic and the "unprecedented uncertainty" we've all had to live with for more than year is not an excuse for surprise decisions that damage businesses.
Monday's announcement that restaurants, pubs and bars had mere hours to implement severe restrictions could have been handled better. Business has been leading the charge on following restrictions and keeping our community safe, but we need the government to work with us.
"It's clear that decision makers in government don't understand business, which is why we're calling for the province to do a better job of working alongside organizations such as ours," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "I'm talking to our partner organizations in Greater Victoria and the other Island chambers to offer the province a readily available advisory network that understands the challenges facing businesses."
Monday's decision left the restaurant and hospitality industry reeling. The Downtown Victoria Business Association reports that business owners are worried about wasting food purchased as part of plans for Easter weekend. Staff are also anxious about their jobs, while the tourism industry has been left feeling kicked while already on the ground.
Destination Greater Victoria says it's hearing from hotels that, after Monday's announcement, guests have cancelled planned visits as far out as September. According to DGV, the sector could lose $900,000, based on 6,000 hotel rooms with an average room rate of $150.
Businesses in the City of Langford will have more confidence about expanding operations after council voted to extend permits for up to three years.
Restaurants and retail businesses had been asking for certainty in order to invest in exterior capital improvements to support outdoor dining and expanded business capacity. Langford's bylaw, previously requiring annual renewal, was amended to allow operations on sidewalks, boulevards and other common areas for up to three years under a single permit.
“Council has recognized that the implications of the pandemic are still a major challenge for many local businesses,” Langford Mayor Stew Young says. “Through this bylaw amendment, we have cut the red tape to make the process of expanding a patio or storefront this spring simple and efficient, while ensuring the safety of customers and staff.”
The Chamber continues working with all municipalities in Greater Victoria to enable innovative solutions to restaurants and all businesses affected by the pandemic.
Employers can now apply for the BC employer tax credit originally announced last September.
"With 2020 payrolls finalized, businesses will know if they are eligible for a credit that could equal up to 15% of any increase in total eligible payroll paid in the last quarter of 2020. The tax credit could be as much as $2,230 per employee," states the provincial news release.
The credit will be applied to any outstanding Employer Health Tax or other debt owed to the province. Businesses that don't pay EHT or owe less than their credit will receive a refund.
With the recent Provincial Health Order limiting indoor dining across BC, supporting local restaurants is as important as ever. That’s why we invite you to take part in
The Chamber’s Takeout Challenge!
Tag your favourite restaurant and two friends for your chance to win one of two $100 gift cards to Tutti!
Take a photo enjoying takeout from your favourite restaurant, tag us and use the hashtag #ChamberLocalVicBC for five additional entries!
Winners will be announced on April 26 in our Chamber Events newsletter.
Click here to eat with a #ChamberLocalVicBC restaurant tonight.
The economic recovery hasn't been the same for everyone. To help the struggling restaurant and hospitality sector, BC's construction industry is launching a grant program to encourage construction employers to treat crews to lunch from local restaurants. Grants depend on the size of the crew and are $250 or $500.
The BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association is grateful for the support.
“It’s a generous idea and we’re thrilled to support it by making posters available to all our members so they can put them up in the window or even visit the construction sites near them and make sure they’re aware of the grants and the #LunchBoxChallenge,” BCRFA president and CEO Ian Tostenson said.
The #LunchBoxChallenge initiative is part of activities celebrating Construction Month in April, which include the Vancouver Island Construction Association as a sponsor. The industry was declared essential early in the pandemic and has fared better than many other sectors.
With spring in the air, there's good news for BC's farmers markets. The province has lifted restrictions so that artisans can once again set up shop in markets. The change will allow non-food vendors, such as flower vendors, to sell at farmers markets, which must still follow Provincial Health Office rules.
On April 19, the federal government will unveil its first full budget in two years and The Chamber is working with our partners to ensure businesses can lead the way.
It's crucial that government move away from a subsidized economy and invest in the private sector to create sustainable growth.
"We at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce are calling the roadmap to a post-COVID economy the 'recovery runway' and we are identifying 'pivot pilots' as those organizations and leaders who have been nimble with pivoting the way they do business," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says in his latest column at Douglasmagazine.com.
Businesses that are leading the recovery — those pivot pilots — serve as a beacon of optimism as we taxi down the recovery runway.