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.
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.
The creation of 227 affordable rental units in downtown Victoria is an investment in our future workforce and our region's economy. On Tuesday, the federal government announced a $100 million loan for the Hudson Place 2 development at 1700 Blanshard St. The project features 245 multi-residential units in total. Most of those ear-marked for affordable housing will be rented at 30% of the local median income for a minimum of 16 years. As well, 49 units will rent for 70% below the median household income.
“People like teachers, nurses, shopkeepers, firefighters, paramedics, construction workers. Those people are finding it harder and harder to afford rent in Canada’s urban centres,” Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, told CHEK News.
As the economy rebounds, one of the biggest challenges facing employers is finding and keeping workers. Our region needs housing that is affordable in order to attract and retain a workforce.
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.
A casino in the District of Saanich could spur development of a hotel and resort and offer a new source of revenue that would take some of the burden off residents, business and industry. The BC Lottery Corp. has asked Saanich if there is interest in pursuing the idea, after plans for a casino in downtown Victoria fell through.
“It’s an opportunity to get some real funding for our amenities … bicycle paths, sidewalks. How about a third ice surface for Saanich?” Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes told CHEK News.
The discussion is in early stages but Mayor Haynes suggested the location will be in east Saanich, between the Swan Lake area and Gordon Head.
Workers in the hard-hit tourism and hospitality industry are being deployed in mass-vaccination centres. The province announced today that 1,400 people who were laid off because of the pandemic are being re-trained to help clinical staff move people through the vaccination process. Tourism and hospitality workers bring an expertise in providing friendly service quickly in high-volume situations, with many able to offer logistical or language support.
BC plans to provide initial vaccination to everyone eligible in the province by July 1.
The future of housing in the District of Saanich is up for discussion as council is set to receive a report on March 22 with 74 recommendations. Saanich convened a Housing Strategy task force, which met 13 times between September and February.
The report ranks the priority of recommendations in specific areas of focus:
Residents will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the report. The Chamber continues to advocate for housing solutions that make life more affordable for the regional workforce needed for Greater Victoria's economy to thrive.
Helping women entrepreneurs get the funding they need to run a successful business will be key to our economic recovery. A recently released report by the Women's Enterprise Centre helps explain the unique challenges facing women who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
This report outlines strategies to get back to growing the overall number of women entrepreneurs, as was happening before COVID-19.
News that Greater Victoria is in line for 210 new licensed child-care spaces will be welcomed by parents. Many working families are often underemployed because parents are unable to work due to the lack of accessible, affordable care for their kids.
The provincial government announced the spaces yesterday as part of its Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, which has created 1,630 spaces in Greater Victoria since 2018.
Proposed new legislation will prevent renters in BC from being evicted from their homes under the guise of renovations. If passed, the legislation will also extend the current rent freeze until Dec. 31, limit future rent increases to inflation and improve the process landlords and tenants use to solve differences.
LandlordBC CEO David Hutniak called the move to prevent unfair evictions a road map for positive change, though the organization has not endorsed the rent freeze which was initially announced last November. The extension beyond July means that any rent increases planned before Dec. 31 no longer apply.
“LandlordBC believes that encouraging continued investment to prolong or sustain the useful life of a rental unit or building is essential," Hutniak said in the province's news release, adding that it's important renovations requiring tenants to move out of a unit are done in good faith, and that the process to establish legitimacy is efficient. Landlords would have to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch before evicting a tenant to undertake renovations.
The changes, if passed, will come into effect on July 1.
Tell us what you think, and how this extension impacts your business. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.