The Victoria Police Department is warning businesses about a disturbing spike in property crimes to start the new year. A little more than half-way through January, there have already been more break-and-enters reported (28) than in all of December (26). Three-quarters of the crimes have been in downtown Victoria and the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood.
The break-ins are predominately taking place at unoccupied businesses, police say. Some of the crimes involve the removal of glass panes using specialized tools.
VicPD urges businesses to take precautions and asks anyone with information about the crimes to call 1-800-222-8477.
The Chamber advocates for safe communities as a fundamental requirement for people to be successful at work and in life. In 2020, this advocacy priority became more urgent due to increases in crime and the number of people experiencing homelessness. We will continue to call for adequate resources for police, and will keep an eye on municipal budget deliberations currently underway.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to advocate on your behalf.
The Chamber has reached out to all 11 candidates registered for the City of Victoria's by-election on Dec. 12. We want to know where candidates stand on issues that are priorities for our members and the region's business community. We'll share the responses next week. We're also hosting a candidate discussion on Nov. 25 at noon.
This by-election is a rare opportunity for people who have businesses or income properties in the municipality but live outside its borders.
Typically during civic elections, voters will cast their ballot in the municipality in which they reside. But doing so disqualifies them from also voting in a different municipality where they own commercial property.
With the Dec. 12 by-election only happening in Victoria, there's a lot of interest from people who have a business in the city but live outside its borders.
For information on who is eligible to vote as a non-resident property elector, here’s a link to the details. A few notable requirements include:
Call Legislative Services at 250-361-0571, or check out Victoria.ca for 2020 Information for Voters, including what documents you need to register as a non-resident property elector.
It’s a great opportunity for business owners to ensure their voice is represented on Victoria council.
On Tuesday, The Chamber held our 2020 Annual General Meeting, sponsored by Fortis BC, with a special panel featuring mayors from four Greater Victoria municipalities.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, Colwood Mayor Rob Martin and View Royal Mayor David Screech spoke about affordable housing, amalgamation, the financial impact of COVID-19 and the need to provide mental health services to address homelessness.
"It was a great forum and truly illustrated what makes our region so diverse," says Chamber CEO Bruce Williams, who moderated the panel. "We share a lot of challenges across Greater Victoria and there are definitely opportunities to adopt best practices. But there are also differences that we need celebrate as we continue to advocate for better governance for our region."
The John Howard Society will own and operate a new affordable housing development at 736 Princess Ave., after Victoria council approved a total of 72 new housing units for low-income and vulnerable residents.
The Princess Avenue location will provide 28 new units, as well as amenities such as a coffee shop and art gallery that will facilitate an employment readiness program.
Council's decision, made last Thursday, also includes 44 new units at 330 Michigan St. The Capital Regional Housing Corporation will retain an existing heritage building on the site and demolish three other buildings to create room for two four-storey multi-familiy buildings. The new buildings will increase the number of affordable units from 62 to 106 on the site.
Voters in Victoria will soon find out who is on the ballot for the city's Dec. 12 by-election. The candidate nomination period opened yesterday, and closes Nov. 6.
The by-election was rescheduled after its original date in April was cancelled due to the pandemic. Any candidates who were previously nominated will need to go through the process again if they still plan to seek election. Candidate nomination forms are available by calling Victoria City Hall at 250-361-0571 or emailing email@example.com. For more information, visit victoria.ca/election.
As soon as candidates are confirmed, The Chamber will provide our members with opportunities to find out where council hopefuls stand on issues of importance to the business community.
After a spike in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Surrey, all regions of BC are being asked to take extra precautions.
Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a new order on Monday, limiting gatherings within private homes and urging businesses to review their COVID-19 safety plans. Our understanding of this disease has changed since many plans were implemented in the summer, and, as we enter flu and cold season, it's timely to update protocols.
Dr. Henry also says she expects British Columbians to wear masks in indoor public spaces when around people outside your bubble.
There have been a couple of developments this week regarding housing for people who are homeless in downtown Victoria. On Monday, Victoria council passed a bylaw limiting the size and location of temporary shelters in the city. The change will mean fewer people in encampments, and prohibit tents within 50 metres of schools.
Council also expanded the list of parks where camping is prohibited, and, announced that, 30 days after the provincial state of emergency ends, people will no longer be allowed to camp during the day. The rule is already in place but has been suspended during the pandemic.
As well, according to reports, BC Housing has said it won't be extending its agreement to house people in Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena after Sept. 30. People who have been sheltering in the arena will move into newly renovated lodging at Paul's Motor Inn, which the province announced it had purchased in June.