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.
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.
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.
Victoria continues to shine on the international stage as Monocle magazine has named our city one of the top five small cities in the world.
“Victoria is at the heart of a vibrant South Island region. Our city has made an effort over the last few years to diversify our economy, especially in our ocean research and technology sectors, drawing new talent and energy into our region,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said in the City of Victoria's news release. “Despite the recent challenges of the pandemic, this recognition reinforces the fact that we continue to be one of the most desirable places to live and work in the world.”
Porto, Portugal, topped the list followed by Leuven, Belgium, Itoshima, Japan and Lucerne, Switzerland.
The list features cities that Monocle's editors believe are the best options for people looking to move away from big cities. The top small cities were selected in part because they are well connected internationally, and have progressive and nimble local leadership.
Meet the candidates: Chamber hosts discussion on priority issues for business in Victoria
The Chamber hosted a virtual Candidate Discussion today ahead of the City of Victoria's by-election on Dec. 12.
The panel featured five candidates selected for their experience and approach to business issues facing the city. We also think voters should be aware of which candidates are running as independents, and who is running on behalf of a slate. The five who took part in the discussion:
You can watch the video at victoriachamber.ca/vicbyelection. On the same page you can find the Questions and Answers open to all 11 candidates on the ballot.
For more information on when and where to vote, including for those who own property in the city but reside outside it, go to victoria.ca.
The Chamber has been a vocal advocate for increased immigration as Vancouver Island is facing a severe labour shortage over the next decade. On Oct. 30, the federal government announced an ambitious increase to immigration levels to try and make up for the low number of new arrivals this year.
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada will bring in 401,000 immigrants next year, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.
"It’s difficult to predict exactly how many newcomers will arrive in the Capital Region over the next three years," the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria says in its latest newsletter. "Usually, we see roughly 2,000 annually."
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is calling on government to ensure new arrivals to Canada are a match for sectors that need workers. The pandemic has skewed the unemployment rate, though the fundamental concerns will likely still be there after the economy recovers.
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.6% in October from 9.1% the month before, according to Statistics Canada's latest figures.
The numbers reflect what is now being called a K-shaped economic recovery, with some businesses able to return to pre-pandemic operations and others still facing an uncertain future.
Across Canada, 57% of businesses in the accommodation and food-services sector report they are unable to take on more debt. About one-third of those say, at current levels of business, they will need to consider closing, declaring bankruptcy or reducing staff unless revenue increases in the next six months.
"With finite public resources available, we need to look carefully at the return on investment of government spending," said Canadian Chamber of Commerce Chief Economist and Vice-President of Policy, Dr. Trevin Stratton. "Some programs are more beneficial than others. Some policies will contribute more to economic growth. Let’s make sure federal spending is focused on quality over quantity."
The pandemic has been especially difficult on working parents, with women disproportionately suffering income loss as they leave jobs or reduce hours to care for children. The Chamber has been calling for investment in accessible child care for years.
Some good news this week as the Greater Victoria School District announced on Friday that it is creating 316 childcare spaces across the region. The school district has completed four childcare studios in Saanich and is building five others that are expected to open in early 2021.
Ensuring all sectors play a role in recovering from the pandemic is one of the key elements of Reboot: Greater Victoria's Economic Recovery Plan. The report, released Monday, is the work of the Rising Economy Taskforce, which brought together 40 business, community, government and academic leaders to work on 12 sector committees.
"I worked closely with other community leaders and the South Island Prosperity Partnership, and I think this report is an invaluable tool for making decisions about where we want to see investments made to achieve a full and equitable recovery," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said.
Among the recommendations are a call to embrace the 21st-century innovation economy and the creation of an Indigenous Economic Development Office.
A new federal program is offering up to $75,000 for small businesses through the CanExport SMEs program. Before the pandemic, the program had helped cover the cost of travel but has a new focus now. Business can access funding to:
For more information, go to tradecommissioner.gc.ca.
And if you're looking to improve your international e-commerce reach, join The Chamber and the World Trade Centre's ICE program this December.