Another building has been purchased by BC Housing to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Greater Victoria. The province announced yesterday that 70 indoor spaces will be available after renovations to 225 Russell St. in Victoria.
“In order to hit our target of bringing everyone in tents in parks in Victoria inside by the end of April, this building is a necessary part of the plan,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, adding the plan is to renovate the site for use as long-term supportive housing.
Our Place Society will operate the shelter and help residents access support services as needed.
Make sure to register for our Business Restart Series with Shayne Ramsay, CEO BC Housing on May 11. Details below!
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.
When the time is right to welcome visitors back to our region, a new experience will be ready to share the story of the Lək̓ʷəŋən people's land and history. The Songhees Nation received $637,900 from the province's Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program to help build a 25-foot aluminum landing craft that can fit 12 passengers.
The vessel will take people on tours of culturally significant sites where the Lək̓ʷəŋən fished and gathered other food sources such as shellfish and berries. The marine trail runs from Colwood down past Victoria and up to Cadboro Bay. Tours are expected to begin next year.
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.
Greater Victoria's unemployment rate was 5% in January, down from 5.8% in December. The region's unemployment rate was 11% last July. The number of people in the labour force was 217,000 in January. That's down from 221,000 in January 2020.
"Our region typically has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada, so it's good to see us getting closer to where we were before the pandemic," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "On the other hand, there are people who have left the workforce who will be needed as our economy recovers. Employment flexibility and accessible childcare remain key to bringing them back."
With the Victoria Film Festival in full swing, there's some good news from the film industry. MovieMaker magazine has named Greater Victoria the fifth-best small city to live and work as a movie maker in 2021. The magazine praises our region for its locations, which can "double for everything from Central Park to English castles to the French Quarter to Napa Valley."
The Chamber continues 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 Greater Victoria.
When the world changes, we all need to change with it. One of the best ways to ensure BC has a workforce with the skills needed to fill new jobs being created is through training.
On Monday, the provincial government announced $4 million for micro-credentials programs to provide the education and skills required for high-demand occupations. BC's Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training worked with post-secondary institutions — including the University of Victoria, Camosun College and Royal Roads University — to develop 24 micro-credential programs.
Half of the funding for the program comes from the federal government, with the province covering the other half. Course are designed for working people with families, and take weeks rather than months to complete.
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.”
An updated wage subsidy program is available for employers to help cover costs of hiring or training staff. The WorkBC Employer Wage Subsidy covers a percentage of employees wages for up to 24 weeks.
WorkBC has opened the program up recently to make it accessible to more people looking for work. The hope is that it can help people get the training needed to take on roles that employers are having a difficult time filling. The Chamber continues to advocate for programs that help employers find and keep workers, and we know that this is an underlying concern for our region's economy.
To find out more about the program, an info session is planned for Feb. 10, starting at noon.
WorkBC is also hosting an info session on cultural awareness on Feb. 8, from 9 to 11 am. Inclusion is another advocacy priority for The Chamber, allowing employers to successfully widen their talent pool and contribute to the community.