Changing times create disruption but also present tremendous opportunities for forward-thinking organizations. The tide of high inflation has highlighted the need to create more resilient local production and supply networks.
Groceries are a good example of the need for investment in suppliers located closer to home. The provincial government's Buy BC program and the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance's Island Good shows the value of supporting innovation led by business.
On Monday, BuyBC hosted an event in Victoria called Every Chef Needs a Farmer, Every Farmer Needs a Chef. Among the exhibitors was Finest at Sea Ocean Products.
"There is clear evidence of the value that bring local brings to a community, but it's not always top of mind when we're at the grocery story purchasing produce for our families," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The Buy BC and Island Good programs makes it easier to remember the value in buying local, both in terms of freshness and health as well as in ensuring local farmers feel they are supported so they can take the risks needed to build their business."
Housing remains a drag on the vitality of our region, though overall quality of life in Greater Victoria has improved.
According to the 2022 Vital Signs Report, released this week, Greater Victoria's grade has moved up from a B grade last year to a B+ this year.
Housing earned an F grade this year, a significant drop from a D+ last year.
"Vital Signs is a great check up on our region's economy, and The Chamber was happy to contribute as a community partner this year," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The grades are a good way to illustrate concepts that contribute to our overall quality of life."
It's the 19th edition of the annual report, which uses surveys as well as stories and graphics to provide snapshots of the past year.
This year's theme asked What Does Community Mean To You? Respondents rated the natural environment and climate as the best things about Greater Victoria. The aforementioned Housing crisis and cost of living were the two most important issues, according to the survey.
The report looks at 12 areas, with grades ranging from a B-plus for Learning and Sports and Recreation, to an F for Housing and a C- for Health and Wellness.
Friday, Sept. 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation — a time to reflect on the history of residential schools and to listen with purpose to the stories of our Indigenous friends and neighbours.
"We will wear our orange shirts in support of everyone affected by the trauma that has left such a deep bruise on our society. We must acknowledge our role in this painful history and take action to change," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The Chamber will continue our work to support Indigenous owned and operated businesses as they are vital contributors to our region's economy."
For information on The Chamber's Indigenous Economic Reconciliation Table, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's happening on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Here's a look at some of the events happening in Greater Victoria for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The Songhees Nation hosts the South Island Powwow Friday. The first-of-its-kind event is free and is "an opportunity to recognize Survivors and their families in the spirit of reconciliation. Through song and dance, we will celebrate traditional Indigenous cultures and resiliency."
Municipalities across Greater Victoria are hosting events to commemorate and celebrate indigenous voices. Across all 13 municipalities, flags will be flown at half-mast on Sept. 30, and events for reflection include:
The City of Victoria hosts the Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony from 10 am to 12:30 pm at Centennial Square. The event includes Indigenous performances, a minute of silence, and guest speakers sharing their personal experiences with residential schools and reconciliation.
The District of Oak Bay hosts a truth and reconciliation event at the Sno’uyutth Welcome Pole at Oak Bay High School starting at 9:30 am. The pole, designed by Songhees Nation elder Butch Dick, symbolizes the beginning of a new relationship between the Oak Bay community and the Songhees and Esquimalt peoples
Along with the region’s municipalities, post-secondary institutions have committed to close their campuses on Sept. 30 and are offering informative and inclusive events:
The University of Victoria hosts various reconciliation events throughout the week. From informative lectures to workshops, students and faculty are invited to wear their orange shirts on Sept. 29 in the quad to witness the lighting of the Sacred Fire. The fire will burn until 3 pm that day, and visitors can listen to stories from residential school survivors, witness reflections and celebrate this year’s theme: Indigenous resurgence.
Royal Roads University invites the community to join in-person and virtual events to honour the strength and resilience of Indigenous Peoples. This year, Royal Roads will raise the Survivors' Flag to honour residential school Survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada. Each element depicted on the flag was carefully selected by Survivors from across Canada, who were consulted in the flag’s creation.
Camosun College has created an Orange Shirt Day research guide to assist those in learning about the importance of honouring Indigenous voices. Camosun hosts an event at Na’tsa’maht: The Gathering Place, Lansdowne Campus on Sept. 29 at 1:30 pm with guest speakers Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray attending.
The Chamber applauds the provincial government's initiative to seek public input on plans to rejuvenate Belleville Terminal.
The facility in the Inner Harbour has served as a gateway for international visitors arriving by water since 1924. As a champion of our region's tourism industry, The Chamber has consistently advocated for the terminal and the need to modernize it with the times.
"We've been calling for renovations for decades, and it's taken time to get all levels of government onboard," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Now that we've done that, there's no time to lose. The requirements to be a border crossing have changed and there's a real risk we could lose our port of entry."
More than 680,000 passengers travelled through Belleville Terminal in 2019 and spent about $174 million in Greater Victoria, says the province's project plan.
Belleville Terminal generates 220,000 overnight visitors and sells over 16,000 vacation packages annually to their passengers, all of which are provided by local businesses in Victoria.
The province is developing a business case for the project. It's expected to cost up to $290 million and be completed by fall 2027.
A temporary terminal will be built until a new facility is ready.
With a little more than one month before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, demand is high for orange shirts that are traditionally worn as a show of support. The Vancouver Island Construction Association is offering to order shirts on behalf of companies. The deadline to order is 2 pm on Aug. 18. Check out VICA's latest newsletter for info on how to order.
The provincial government appears committed to its plan to rebuild the Royal BC Museum over the next eight years at a cost of $789 million. The museum was founded in 1886 and has been in its current location since 1968.
The Chamber will work to support businesses affected by the change, including attractions that now have an opportunity to increase their profile.
“You can come downtown and go to the Bateman Gallery, you can go to the Bug Zoo, you can go to the Maritime Museum — there are still a lot of attractions around and plenty of things to do,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams told CHEK News.
“The work to modernize the Royal BC Museum is a legacy project that will enrich, inspire and continue to benefit British Columbians and Indigenous Peoples for generations to come," RBCM CEO Alicia Dubois said in the provincial news release.
There are plans for travelling exhibitions, regional displays and an interactive walking tour in Victoria while the new museum is being built.
The provincial government says new legislation will make it easier for people to understand liens and protect property rights.
"Liens commonly give people the right to keep another person’s property to secure payment for services that improve the property’s value," the province said in a news release.
The proposed Commercial Liens Act will apply to the following services:
The change will unify rules for repair, storage and transportation liens, which have caused confusion in the past, the province said.
BC Minister of Finance Selina Robinson met with Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce members today to address your questions about the province's 2022 Budget, unveiled yesterday.
Minister Robinson expects economic growth even as provincial debt increases.
This year's $71 billion budget is forecast to have a deficit of $5.5 billion, followed by a $4.2 billion deficit in 2023/24. Robinson said the main reasons for the deficits are the anticipated costs of rebuilding damaged transportation infrastructure to withstand future climate events.
Asked whether the province planned to ease the burdens of the EHT — which took $207 million more than anticipated from BC employers last year — or paid sick days, the minister defended the government's current policies. She also acknowledged concerns about linking the minimum wage to inflation and said she will work to make the change as smooth and predictable as possible for business.
Greater Victoria is getting two complex care facilities, though specific locations were not announced. The budget also includes $84 million over three years for planning and capital funding for upgrading the Belleville Terminal.
The tourism sector has been allocated $25 million to help with recovery efforts, though a further $915 million was set aside for potential pandemic-related expenses, including health care costs or economic recovery funding.
Greater Victoria is also in line for numerous “bus and shoulder” expansions to improve regional transit, and money has been earmarked for the transit hub at Uptown in Saanich.
“The Chamber has long advocated for child care as an investment in our economy, and we applaud the province’s commitment to adding 40,000 new spaces within seven years. We also are encouraged by some of the steps to address our lack of housing supply,” Williams said.
Throne speeches are typically more pomp than particulars, and yesterday's ceremonial start to a new session at the BC Legislature was no exception. However, there were a few items of interest to business in Greater Victoria.
Minimum wage, which went through a series of increases to reach $15.20/hour in BC, will now be tied to the rate of inflation.
The housing market, under pressure due to a lack of supply, will soon face a regulated "cooling off period" for buyers.
A new plan is being developed to train British Columbians to meet the one million job openings expected in the next 10 years.
There were also mentions of modernizing the Royal BC Museum, taking action on reconciliation and improving child care by making it a function of the Ministry of Education.
"What we didn't hear was an adequate plan to help business by reducing unfair costs such as the Employer Health Tax, or cutting red tape," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "We're looking forward to hearing details next week about how government will help business and build resilience in our economy."
Chamber Event: A conversation with BC's Finance Minister on Feb. 23
A new state-of-the-art Royal BC Museum is being planned to replace the existing facility. The news was announced by BC's Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Melanie Mark.
The museum began operations 135 years ago and is a major attraction in our region. Minister Mark said the current facility doesn't meet modern safety or accessibility standards.
"A new and modern museum is long overdue, for the safety of all visitors, to remove barriers so everyone can access it and to keep our irreplaceable collections safe," Mark states. "Continuing on without a major redevelopment is not an option for anyone serious about the stewardship of BC’s history and culture. Our goal is to build a state-of-the-art facility that provides an educational and cultural legacy for the province while at the same time brings significant economic and social benefits to the region."
The Chamber is committed to taking action to advance the process of reconciliation, as well as investment in the growth of Greater Victoria's economy.
On Monday, City of Victoria council made an unprecedented recommendation to provide a $200,000 annual grant for the next five years to the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. This year, funds will come from the city's 2021 surplus. In subsequent years, the grant will come out of revenue created by new builds on city land. The recommendation needs to be approved at a regular council meeting before it is formally added to the budget.
"I think this is supportable in the fact that I think the work that will be done will benefit the city overall, so not only the nations, but the city,” Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe says in the Times Colonist.
Big changes are happening to the Royal BC Museum. The 135-year-old institution announced today it will begin a process of decolonization to ensure the museum is a welcoming place for everyone.
"This is necessary to begin the long-term work of creating new narratives that include under-represented voices and reflect the lived experiences and contemporary stories of people in BC,” acting CEO Daniel Muzyka said in a news release. The current exhibits will remain until Dec. 31, with a phased approach to updating galleries beginning in 2022.
Last week, the museum announced another exciting development as the province selected three firms to participate in the next phase of design and construction proposals for a new building in Colwood. Chamber Champions Kinetic Construction and Knappett Projects Inc. are bidding on the project to potentially partner with RBCM.
The new facility will house RBCM’s collections and research department, as well as the BC Archives.
Sept. 30 is National Truth and Reconciliation Day — a time to reflect on the history of residential schools and to listen with purpose to the stories of our Indigenous friends and neighbours.
Municipalities across Greater Victoria are hosting events to commemorate and celebrate indigenous voices, including:
The City of Victoria will be hosting the Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony from noon to 2:30 pm at Centennial Square. The event will include Indigenous performances, a minute of silence, and guest speakers sharing their personal experiences with residential schools and reconciliation.
The District of Oak Bay will be hosting events through the group ReconciliACTION Oak Bay – beginning in front of Oak Bay High School at 10 am, the event will honour residential school survivors with members of the Songhees Nation sharing their wisdom.
The City of Colwood will be presenting the Na'tsa'maht Gathering in honour of Truth and Reconciliation. The event will take place from 10 am – 4 pm at Royal Beach, and will include traditional songs, drumming, dancing and more.
The Corporation of the District of Saanich will be lighting the municipal hall orange on the evenings of September 29-30, and the flag will be lowered to half-mast.
The Township of Esquimalt has illuminated the Archie Browning Sports Centre in orange this week, and will continue to do so until September 30.
Along with the region’s municipalities, post-secondary institutions have committed to close their campuses on Sept. 30 and are offering informative and inclusive events:
The University of Victoria has been hosting various reconciliation events throughout the week. From film screenings at the First People’s House to livestreamed educational sessions, the university also has orange shirts designed by Carey Newman Hayalthkin’geme available at the bookstore. University President Kevin Hall will be detailing UVic’s calls to action and the role of education for Truth and Reconciliation.
Royal Roads University invites the community to join in virtual learning and events to honour the strength and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, including the #DrumForTheChildren virtual event at 2:15 with the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation. On and around campus, many will share on social media their commitment to reconciliation wearing the limited-edition Orange Shirt with a powerful logo of the Heron People Circle (elder and old ones) by member Clarence “Butch” Dick of Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees) Nation.
Camosun College hosted their Orange Shirt Day event Wednesday at 1 pm. Attendees were invited to create love baskets filled with treats and medicines. The baskets will be delivered to residential school survivors who work closely with the college.
How will you recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation? For the first time, Canadians will officially join together tomorrow to honour Indigenous children who experienced traumatic abuse under the residential school system.
For the business community, a starting point could be the specific call to action by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Meaningful consultation, respectful relationships and ensuring consent of Indigenous peoples are among the ways businesses can help the reconciliation process. Other ways include ensuring access to jobs and training needed to benefit from economic development, as well as making sure all of us better understand the history of residential schools and ongoing challenges facing Indigenous people.
This summer, The Chamber took steps to address this call to action by creating an Indigenous Business Task Force. If you are interested in contributing to this initiative, or know someone who would be good addition, please contact us at email@example.com.
How does your business plan to mark Canada's first National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30?
Canada's civil service will take the day off with pay. As well, the province and numerous institutions such as the University of Victoria, Camosun College and the Greater Victoria School District are also giving staff the day off.
“The Chamber has also made the decision to close our office on Sept. 30. We felt it was the right thing to do for our organization and reflects the decision we made, earlier in the summer, to create a new task force to help Indigenous entrepreneurs and First Nation businesses fully participate in Greater Victoria’s business community,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said, noting that the day is not a statutory holiday according to BC's Employment Standards Act. “Every organization will make their own decisions based on their business and sector.”
The Chamber will be using our Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter channels to reflect on the importance of this day as well as ongoing efforts to support the reconciliation process. Please follow and share, and let us know if you're planning anything to mark the day by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more resources to help your organization, click here.
Richard Michaels has been named chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s newly formed Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion. The committee will reach out to better include communities that have faced systemic marginalization due to race, ethnicity, gender, physical capabilities or other factors.
“I am proud to be the first chair of this new committee, which recognizes that the demographics of Greater Victoria are evolving and that adapting to this change is fundamental to the sustainability of our region’s economy,” said Michaels, president of MACCRIM Solutions and a member of The Chamber’s Board of Directors. “The Chamber is working to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment that engages businesses owners and entrepreneurs who reflect the full spectrum of our region. This strengthens our organization and ensures everyone in our region’s business community is represented by The Chamber.”
The purpose of the Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion is to offer advice and guidance to help The Chamber create a more inclusive and welcoming business community. The mandate is part of the work the organization has been doing to achieve its vision of being “the region’s most diverse and influential business association.”
In June, The Chamber also announced the creation of an Indigenous Business Task Force to work toward reconciliation by engaging with Indigenous-owned businesses and First Nations to ensure they have access to all opportunities available to help them flourish.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we know things will not be as they were before it started,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “This is the time to take what we’ve learned from successfully adapting to challenging times and make our economy more sustainable. Good business really does build great community for all.”
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams has been named to the inaugural Canadian Chamber of Commerce BIPOC and Inclusion Council.
Diversity initiatives across the country are playing a part in creating a more socially inclusive economy. Small businesses play an important role, but often don’t know where to start.
"Chambers are experts at building connections and bringing people together," Chamber CEO Bruce Willams says. "We talk about being more inclusive and diverse, and we also need to walk the walk by hearing directly from voices and lived experiences that will guide us in making meaningful change."
The new council will inform the Canadian Chamber’s initiatives in supporting BIPOC, drive meaningful action to address the identified challenges and opportunities BIPOC face in participating in the Canadian economy, share and recognize best practices and advocate for changes that facilitate diversity and inclusion.
The Chamber has repeatedly advocated that inclusion is a key economic driver. Across Canada, improved participation rates could add 2.2 million workers to the labour force by 2040, including more women, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, thereby growing our economy by $101 billion.
Financial support is available for First Nations and Indigenous entrepreneurs looking to produce or process food, or other associated activities. The BC Indigenous Agriculture Development Program provides up to $8,000 for specialized planning and coaching services to help develop food and agricultural businesses.
Food security is a priority for our region, and tapping into Indigenous knowledge about sustainable production on their traditional territories can only help as we continue to face challenges due to climate events.
The program is first-come first-serve and will be available until all of the ascribed funding is allocated.
The move to Step 3 of BC's Restart Plan has renewed optimism among the many businesses that had been stifled by pandemic restrictions.
"We're gradually expanding our capacity to move a little closer to whatever normal is going to be," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams told CFAX's Al Ferraby. The two also discussed the need for Canada to open its border to international travellers.
Getting back to business is not without its challenges. Employers continue to struggle finding people to fill available jobs, and supply chains are still working through some of the bumps caused by extended shutdowns. The Chamber and our community partners also continue to urge the provincial government to return its workforce to downtown offices.
Williams also spoke to CFAX about The Chamber's effort to support Indigenous business and follow through on calls to action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The Chamber Board recently approved the creation of a new task-force committed to listening and working alongside First Nations' businesses and Indigenous entrepreneurs. Another way we're supporting economic reconciliation is through a new membership program created for Indigenous-owned business.
The Victoria Native Friendship Centre was bequeathed a large property in the District of Oak Bay. The house, donated by 85-year-old Marion Cumming, is one of many properties donated to Indigenous groups across Canada by Cumming and her late husband Bruce.
A decision has not yet been made on how the property will be used, but ideas include using the space for board retreats or an artist in residence.
On Monday, The Chamber celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day on social media, and we continue to look for new ways to support Indigenous-owned businesses in Greater Victoria.
Next week, we will announce a special initiative to help more Indigenous businesses benefit from being part of our region's business community. The Chamber is committed to being an inclusive organization and making sure we live up to our vision of being the region’s most diverse and influential business association.