The provincial government announced today that it received more revenue than expected for fiscal 2022-23.
Public Accounts show B.C. ended the year with a $704-million surplus and no operating debt, helped in part by income tax generated by high employment.
BC Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy, who spoke to Chamber members on March 1, said investing in people and businesses is paying off.
“We’ve seen time and again that when we invest in people and the services they count on to build a good life here, it makes our economy stronger and more resilient,” Conroy said in the news release, which also noted that BC has the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in Canada.
The Chamber will continue to work with decision-makers in all levels of government to reduce the tax burden faced by business, while also calling for smart investment.
"These revenue figures show that the province clearly can do better at reducing costs borne by businesses, such as the Employer Health Tax," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The best investment any government can make is creating the right climate for entrepreneurs and businesses, who drive the majority of employment in BC."
The next report on provincial finances will be the first quarterly report for 2023-24 in September.
Is it almost September already? You can feel it in the air — that combination of excitement to start a fresh school year mixed with the bittersweet feeling of the end of summer.
Make the most out of your Labour Day long-weekend by supporting your fellow Chamber members. Celebrate by enjoying a bite out, a night away from home, or plan an action-packed weekend at these local treasures.
After you enjoy the long weekend, you may be getting ready for the return of the school year and your fall routine. Take advantage of The Chamber's exclusive member-only deals and discounts on quality school and office supplies..
Chamber members can save:
The Chamber will be closed Monday, Sept. 4 for Labour Day.
High-interest rates and uncertainty over the state of the economy are behind the tourism industry slowing down after its fast recovery from the pandemic. A report by TD titled "A Slow Road to Recovery for Canadian Tourism Spending," states the industry won't fully recover until about 2025.
Current tourism spending is at about 87% of where it was in 2019.
"Although more price-conscious tourists could weigh on profit margins in the sector, slower demand growth may allow the industry time to overcome labour shortages," the report states.
In BC, tourism employment is the highest its been since 2018 as employers work to overcome challenges finding and keeping staff.
Greater Victoria tourism earns environmental rep
Back in May, Greater Victoria received some love from a feature in Vogue about how we "became a sustainable travel hotspot." the article identifies a number of Chamber members who have helped make Greater Victoria green, including:
Some good news for Greater Victoria's tourism economy as the Victoria Airport Authority approved a proposal to build a 129-room hotel. The three-storey hotel, one of Marriott International’s extended stay brands, will be located on 3.5 acres of commercial zoned land at the corner of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue West.
“The addition of the TownePlace Suites Hotel at YYJ will provide travellers and visitors to the region with convenient access not only to the airport and Sidney, but also to the many amenities and services in the area and the Pat Bay highway into Victoria,” Victoria Airport Authority President and CEO Geoff Dickson said in a news release.
The all-suite hotel will have studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units with fully equipped kitchens, a gym, pool and 1,500 square feet of meeting space. There will also be a full-service restaurant.
Preparations for construction on site will begin in the fall and the hotel is expected to be completed in time for summer 2025.
Travel restrictions are being lifted tonight for many areas of Interior BC devastated by wildfires, but for people and businesses forced to flee their homes recovery will take time.
“The emergency order we put in place on Saturday has had the effect we required and thousands of hotel rooms were made available for people forced from their homes, as well as the many firefighters and emergency crews who are protecting us during the worst wildfire season in our history," BC's Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness said in a news release.
The Chamber has been in conversation with affected chambers to offer support during this difficult time.
"We know that Greater Victoria is an exceptionally compassionate and generous community," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "There are ways to help now, and there will be a need to help communities as they work to recover from so much loss."
How to help:
The Songhees Nation Chief and Council have announced on LinkedIn that Rosa Horne will be their next Executive Director. "Rosa is a Member of the Stz'uminus First Nation in Ladysmith and acknowledges her gratitude to live, work, and play in the W̱SÁNEĆ territory over the last 19 years," states the post.
Rosa has a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Indigenous Business Leadership.
Housing supply is at the core of Chamber advocacy. Greater Victoria, like much of North America, is facing a crunch — not enough homes are being built to meet demand. This affects the cost of living for employees, delays people from starting a family and impacts the availability of shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
A group of Canadian housing sector organizations recently released the National Housing Accord: A Multi-Sector Approach to Ending Canada’s Rental Housing Crisis. The report offers 10 solutions that aim to focus the efforts of all levels of government and industry on policies to support more building.
"It's a bit of a Catch 22 in that we need skilled tradespeople to build homes so that the market has enough supply for skilled tradespeople to be able to afford to live here," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The lack of housing affects people at all income levels but is particularly concerning for people early in their careers and those who have the added costs that come with raising kids."
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recognizes that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, driving innovation, creating jobs, and contributing to local communities. The Canadian Chamber is looking to highlight small business owners at any stage of business by sharing your insights as part of a social media campaign in October. They want you to share any lessons learned and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur.
Are you ready to cast a spotlight on your business and share your entrepreneurial wisdom? Don't miss out on this opportunity! Simply complete the online form provided by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce before Aug. 31. Your story could be the catalyst that propels someone else toward their own business success.
Two couples stepped off a cruise ship this morning at Ogden Point to a little more fanfare than they probably expected. The passengers were the 10 millionth to arrive via cruise ship, and were welcomed by City of Victoria mayor Marianne Alto and other local dignitaries.
“We’ve been married for 14 years, and we came on this trip to renew our vow,” Emma Lonergan, one of the lucky passengers, said in a new release from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. The first cruise ship passengers arrived in 1969.
“Cruise supports the region’s visitor economy and creates jobs that support Victoria’s economic recovery,” GVHA CEO Robert Lewis-Manning said. "Engineers, entrepreneurs, accountants, mechanics and others are employed due to cruise tourism in Victoria, with salaries totaling more than $40 million annually."
The GVHA said cruise visitors and crew contribute $56 million annually to Greater Victoria's economy, while cruise lines spend $84 million on warehousing, ship agents, repairs and maintenance, port fees and docking services.
Lindsay Gaunt (Director of Cruise Development, GVHA); Robert Lewis-Manning (CEO, GVHA); passengers Ryan and Rebecca Fairchild; Darlene Hollstein (GM, Bay Centre & Destination Greater Victoria Board Chair); passengers Emma, Liam and Ava Lonergan; Marianne Alto (Victoria Mayor); Kevin Boag (Hotel General Manager, Queen Elizabeth, Cunard).
Inflation is running hot in Canada, though the relationship between higher prices and the likelihood of the Bank of Canada raising rates is "complicated." The rate was 3.3% in July compared to 2.8% in June. Some of the higher costs are directly related to interest rates, which make some mortgages and loans more expensive and impacts renters as well as homeowners. The summer heat also caused energy demand to soar, and the war in the Ukraine continues to impact food prices worldwide.
The Bank of Canada has been clear that tamping down inflation remains its priority. That means another raise in interest rates remains on the table next month. However, the Conference Board of Canada reports that inflation could be feeding on itself as consumers and businesses have come to expect prices to keep rising.
How is your organization dealing with cost uncertainty? Share your stories or advice for other businesses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the dialogue around remote work seems to have changed from "when is your team going back to the office to how can you adopt a hybrid workplace," you're not alone. The Canadian Chamber's Business Data Lab shows that North American cities are adapting to a new reality. Employers who are facing challenges finding and keeping workers are embracing workforce mobility as a solution. However, the change requires new strategies for ensuring the economic health and safety of urban cores that have lost jobs to the suburbs. The Chamber is working with our regional partners to rethink the role of Downtown Victoria so that it continues to be the vibrant centre of our regional economy.
"We know that our suburban downtowns are thriving, and that's good news for a lot of municipalities in Greater Victoria," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "What we also need to do is make sure that Downtown Victoria continues as a major draw for tourists and a great place to live for residents. Of course, the way we do that is making sure we have a great climate for businesses to thrive so they can provide the goods and services that attract visitors and support locals."
The board of the Capital Regional District has agreed to a $53.5 million plan that will widen and add lighting to sections of the Galloping Goose and Lochside regional trails. The sections are on the Galloping Goose between the Selkirk Trestle and Grange Road, and the Lochside Trail between the Switch Bridge and Borden Street.
The plan was developed over several years through public engagement. About three million people use the trails per year and the CRD says user volumes "will increase significantly due to trends in population growth and a shift toward active transportation and healthy lifestyles."
Cyclists account for about 80% of traffic on the trail, compared to 20% for pedestrians.
The City of Victoria has added an electric fire truck to its growing fleet of electric vehicles. The Rosenbauer Revolutionary Technology pumper fire engine, currently being assembled, is expected to arrive by the end of the year. Funding from the provincial government allowed the city to purchase the electric fire engine for about the same cost as a typical fire engine.
Vancouver and Brampton are the only other fire departments in Canada that have ordered RT electric fire engines, which are in use in Los Angeles, Berlin, Amsterdam and Dubai.
The forecast says Saturday will be 23 C and sunny — perfect to get to Wilson's Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park to watch the Victoria HarbourCats play for the WCL North Division title. The 'Cats set a league record this season for most home victories and swept the Applesox this week to win their best-of-three semifinal series. The winner of Saturday’s game will play in the WCL Final on Monday.
"The baseball is fantastic and the atmosphere is just as amazing," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The Chamber recently held a mixer at a game and it was a perfect evening and a great way to connect with our community."
Another Greater Victoria team is also having a highlight season. Pacific FC is at the top of the table in the Canadian Premier League. The soccer squad plays Sunday at Starlight Stadium against Athletico Ottawa.
The Chamber's Emerge Committee Connector on Sept. 8 will be held before Pacific FC's game against Halifax. Register soon as this will sell out quickly!
Housing supply is emerging as the root of many challenges facing Greater Victoria and the economy of Canada as a whole. To try and address some of the foundational causes of a lack of housing, the Community Social Planning Council has released a toolkit for local government. Local Government Levers for Housing Affordability addresses how housing affects everything from "staffing shortages to wage pressure to homelessness."
The document gathers policy tools that have been used successfully by large and small municipalities across the country.
A panel of experts has been tasked with developing a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan for the City of Victoria. The goal is to address multiple complex issues such as "declining civility and social cohesion, increasing social disorder, inadequate housing supply and homelessness, poverty, inequality, addictions, mental and physical health challenges, criminal activity and other factors."
The panel will work over the next 15 months to advise Victoria council on immediate interventions as well as long-term solutions.
"I’m in frequent contact with the business community throughout the downtown and beyond and I’m consistently hearing that the impact of the pandemic is far from over," Fort Properties Ltd. CEO/co-owner Suzanne Bradbury said in the city's news release. "I believe that this is the right initiative at the right time and I’m honoured to bring a small business perspective.”
Along with Bradbury, the panel includes:
In Greater Victoria, The Chamber serves as the voice of business by amplifying what we hear from our members. We can then further raise the volume by working with our national network to include the questions and concerns of more than 200,000 businesses across Canada.
A recent example is the 2024 pre-budget recommendations submitted by the Canadian Chamber to the federal government. The submission calls for for investment in trade-enhancing infrastructure, easing the burden of doing business, facilitating the transition to net-zero, enabling an innovative economy, attracting and retaining talent and taking a lead role in life sciences.
To learn more about the work done by The Chamber's Public Policy and Advocacy committee, contact email@example.com.
Take a moment this BC Day long-weekend and step into the exciting world of British Columbia, where history, diversity and community living are connected, creating vibrant experiences for all. On Aug. 7, let's embark on a journey that celebrates what truly makes this province feel like home.
Let's begin by honouring the rich heritage of First Nations, who have been the stewards of this land for generations. This is a time for reconciliation, where we stand together to support friends, neighbours, and community members, all working tirelessly to make BC the fantastic place it is today.
From the Songhees to the Malahat First Nations, let's appreciate and embrace the incredible experiences Indigenous tourism businesses offer.
Our adventure doesn't end there! Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and local shopping scene or seize the moment to embark on that long-awaited home project. And for the spontaneous folks, why not plan a thrilling last-minute getaway to discover the breathtaking natural beauty of the province?
As BC Day approaches, we wish you a relaxing day, a chance to appreciate the joy of being a part of this extraordinary province that we all call home.
Please note that The Chamber will be closed on Monday, Aug. 7 to celebrate BC Day.
The BC Day long-weekend is a popular time for out-of-towners to pop by and enjoy Greater Victoria's sublime summer weather.
Here are a few suggestions from BC Ferries to help your friends or family members make their trip to the Island a happy one:
And for making the most of the weekend in our region, check out our article below on things to do for BC Day in Greater Victoria.
The Royal BC Museum has brought back one its most beloved sections. Old Town, an exhibit originally designed to recreate the look and feel of an early-20th-century settler community, reopened to the public last weekend. The space had been closed for a year-and-a-half for repairs and modernization.
"The museum plays a vital role in Greater Victoria as an anchor for local tourism and as a space where the stories of our province are shared with hundreds of thousands of visitors every year," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "It's good to see people once again enjoying and learning from Old Town. The museum is working hard to give a voice to Indigenous peoples whose stories need to be heard, and to the many communities that settled here and helped make BC what it is today."
The Canadian economy continued to show resiliency this spring. Statistics Canada reports that Gross Domestic Product stayed in positive territory. The Bank of Canada will make its next interest rate announcement on Sept. 6.
Business leaders will be watching closely as high-interest rates used to fight inflation have a direct impact on the cost of investment. A Globe and Mail interview with CIBC World Markets' deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal is a good read for insights to help cut through the confusing times. Tal said he thinks interest rates have peaked or are close to the peak. He added that conditions are right for rapid growth in business investment in 2025 as inflation subsides and productivity increases thanks to innovations such as AI.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the people who will make up our 2024 Board of Directors.
Rose Arsenault, James Gatsi and Jessica Stigant are returning for new two-year terms after being acclaimed for 2024. As well, Josue Dubon will also join the Board as a full voting director. Josue currently holds a non-voting position as chair of The Chamber's Emerge Committee.
And in related news, Dean Clarke joins The Chamber Board as the chair of The Chamber's new Family Business Committee.
The City of Victoria is considering a program that will help spruce up the look of businesses in the downtown core. The Business Façade Beautification Reimbursement Program is on the agenda for Thursday's council meeting. The city and the Downtown Victoria Business Association would split the cost of the program.
“This is an incentive to the property owners and the businesses on that block to join together and make their block look better," DVBA CEO Jeff Bray told the Times Colonist. "And I think when you do that over a handful of key blocks, it will be very noticeable.”
The Township of Esquimalt and the Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce introduced the Business Façade Improvement Project this year.
"As the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, we support investment in our very important downtown centres," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "They're not all the same, of course, but they all need to be safe communities. The best way to do that is to support community pride led by local business."
The blue skies of summer appear to reflect the sunny disposition of spenders, according to July's Consumer Confidence Index.
The Conference Board of Canada reported an increase of 5.5 points over the previous month. The long range outlook was more moderate, though it seems a majority of Canadians are hopeful that better economic times are ahead.
In BC, consumers were buoyed by the provincial benefits handed out to more than two million people. The climate tax credit and increased family benefit helped individuals facing higher costs due to inflation.
"We encourage everyone who has been helped by these benefits to remember the importance of helping local business," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Investment in the economy works by supporting the people in our community who provide the goods and services we all rely on."
How do we solve homelessness? There's no easy answer as cities across the world and particularly along the west coast of North America are experiencing a surge in people living on the streets. In Greater Victoria, parts of our regional downtown have become almost unrecognizable. A constant state of distress impacts everyone who experiences the scene of people suffering from untreated mental health issues and addiction.
"The Chamber is looking at long-term solutions that could take generations while also calling for immediate action that can make a real difference today," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We need to work with our community partners, specifically those who are on the frontline. Their experiences are vital to helping shape policies and programs that address the roots of this issue."
Partners such as Our Place Society and the Victoria Conservatory of Music, who recently co- authored an essay in the Times Colonist have offered a thoughtful four-point plan that deserves consideration. The essay is worth a read but The Chamber agrees that we need to: