The City of Langford has agreed to rename Westhills Stadium in a deal that creates new revenue for major tenant Pacific FC. Under the largest sponsorship deal in Langford's history, Toronto developers Starlight Investments will reportedly pay more than $500,000 over five years. The stadium will be known as Starlight Stadium.
“This is a big deal, for Langford and for Pacific FC,” Langford Mayor Stew Young told the Times Colonist.
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.
The Songhees Nation has received approval to open two retail cannabis stores in downtown Victoria. The Seed and Stone: Songhees Edition will be located at 901 Gordon St., with another outlet in The Bay Centre. The initiative will generate income for the Songhees but is an economic opportunity in other ways as well.
“Our members also have considerable interest in the jobs and training opportunities that will result from this project,” Songhees Chief Ron Sam said in a statement.
Western Interior Design Group is working on the design and build of the stores.
The City of Victoria approved the stores on Jan. 14, and the approval process has moved to the next step of provincial government review. The aim is to have the locations open by the spring.
As changes to the way we live and work continue to transform our neighbourhoods, the City of Victoria is hoping to hear from businesses to help plan the future of Fernwood, North Park and Hillside-Quadra. City planners see the three urban villages as playing a key role in the decades ahead.
To learn more about how to engage with planning, go to engage.victoria.ca.
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.
The federal government has moved forward on a Chamber advocacy initiative, paving the way for international students to help employers fill workforce vacancies.
The Chamber called on government to invest in retaining international students, who often spend co-op work terms learning Canadian skills needed by local employers. WorkBC forecasts Vancouver Island will face a massive jobs deficit by 2029, as our regional economy grows and our population ages out of the workforce.
International students can now apply for an open work permit that will be valid for 18 months and allow them to continue to build a life in Canada. "This new policy will help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care, technology and more," a federal government news release said.
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 email@example.com 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
Canada's Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly said BC could have its own agency to help businesses bounce forward after COVID-19.
“We need to be much more focused on British Columbians’ realities and needs, and the pandemic has exacerbated this reality,” Joly said in a report by Postmedia this week. "When you look at other regions of the country, there is a very strong presence of the federal government. But that’s not necessarily the case as much in British Columbia.”
The Western Economic Diversification Agency currently serves BC as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Joly was a guest speaker last Friday at the South Island Prosperity Partnership's Rising Economy Week.
Joly, pictured above, spoke to Chamber members last year as part of our Business Leader Series of luncheons.