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2017 Advocacy Priority Areas

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) engages, supports, and informs the business community to shape dialogue and identify issues of concern to member businesses. The Chamber also engages elected officials at all levels of government to ensure the region’s business interests are the voice of business for our members and the Greater Victoria business community.

The Chamber is at its most effective when backed by an active and informed membership. To that end, we regularly survey and actively engage our membership to best identify and address issues that affect our community.

For 2017, The Chamber will develop policy resolutions and plan advocacy initiatives focussed in the following over-arching areas:
This focus will support our work as the voice of business to help shape an environment conducive for business growth and success.

Part of any effective advocacy movement must include dialogue and discussion. Please feel free to voice your thoughts and concerns by contacting The Chamber at 250-383-7191 or

The Chamber Network

Through our partnership with the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Victoria Chamber joins its voices with over 200,000 businesses across Canada to maximize our influence and impact.The Chamber's current positions endorsed by local, provincial and national chambers and boards of trade are here.

Affordable Housing

Members are increasingly concerned about the scarcity of affordable housing available to our workforce, particularly those earning low to moderate incomes. For example:

  • housing costs are going up every year and the average home is not affordable on the average family wage,
  • rental vacancy rates are lower than one percent, the lowest in Canada,
  • municipal barriers to development differ across jurisdictions and can include long permit times or re-zoning processes, unpredictable community amenity contributions, etc.

The Chamber’s position is easy access to housing—both rental and ownership—supports the labour needs of today and tomorrow.

The Chamber will advocate for the local, regional, provincial and federal governments to invest in methods to reduce private market housing prices as well as stimulate housing and rental inventories. In addition, The Chamber will advocate to increase the supply of affordable housing accessible to employees on low to moderate incomes.

Present advocacy efforts include:
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Climate Change

Members are concerned with climate change and how the effects of climate change-related legislation, regulation, and taxation will increase their operational costs, stifle investment, and affect their ability to grow and attract investment. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and effective management of the impacts of climate change is a priority for businesses because. For example: 
  • waste management, including diversion and reduction initiatives, are an increasingly resource-intensive cost to businesses,
  • our approach to climate change management affects the ability to compete with other jurisdictions, and
  • conversion to green technology is expensive, and effectively managed transitions can be critical to business sustainability.

The Chamber’s position is economic prosperity goes hand-in-hand with environmental sustainability.

The Chamber will advocate for solutions that work best for business while supporting public goals for emission reduction and promoting how businesses can also lead through innovation and example.

Present advocacy efforts include Renovation Tax Credits - Improving B.C.’s Housing Stock

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Labour Supply and Retention

Members are already citing challenges in hiring and housing qualified workers as a barrier to success. Further, our members are concerned that young families cannot afford to move to/remain in in Greater Victoria due to the high cost of living: namely housing and childcare. For example:
  • Since July 2016, Greater Victoria has had the lowest jobless/unemployment rate in the country,
  • the strong regional economy, particularly in construction and tourism, is creating additional pressures, and
  • the forecast is for continued modest economic growth over the next 18 months, which will further exacerbate the labour shortage.

The Chamber’s position is that employers need to be able to effectively compete for and tap into all available sources of talent.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for efficient immigration processes with relevant immigration targets and domestic mobility programs that allow employers to effectively compete for foreign and domestic talent. Further, The Chamber will advocate for ways to decrease the high cost of living in Greater Victoria, such as through increased access quality affordable childcare and housing.

Present advocacy efforts include:
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Local Economy

Members are increasingly concerned about their tax burden and the economy, particularly how this affects their competitiveness with other jurisdictions. Further, they are aware that government support to economic development has been historically under-resourced and has lacked a regional focus, thereby impacting their ability to grow and to attract investment. For example:
  • In 2016, the Greater Victoria average property tax bill for Residential property owners (before Homeowners Grant) was $3,043, while for Business, the average bill was $8,376, and
  • According to the 2017 Demographia Housing Affordability Survey, Victoria is ranked as one of the world’s least affordable cities.

The Chamber’s position is that fair and competitive residential and business taxes, a competitive cost of living as well as a regional approach to economic development contributes to a healthy, resilient and growing economy.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for the judicious use of taxpayer dollars, creation of better jobs, attraction of external investment, and for the diversification and growth of our vibrant economy. The Chamber will actively champion a regional approach to economic development.

Present advocacy efforts include:
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Local Government - Governance and Service Delivery

Members are frustrated with the cost - in terms of dollars, time and action - to operate in more than one municipality. Members are increasingly concerned about the financial burden placed on businesses as well as the impact that inadequate service delivery has on their ability to grow and to attract investment. For example:

  • there are conflicts of interest when local politicians are also decision-makers for the CRD,
  • the City of Victoria bears the majority of costs, e.g. policing, homelessness, as the region’s core,
  • responsibility for public safety is fractured, which can lead to perception that Greater Victoria is not safe, thereby affecting decisions to visit, live, or do commerce in the region, and
  • it takes extreme effort to initiate and fund regional approaches.

The Chamber’s position is that effective local governance supports business success and growth.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for better governance through fewer governments. Specifically, for the Province to develop realistic options for improved regional governance through the amalgamation of local governments and for modernization of regional districts. The Chamber will advocate that local governments work to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of municipal service delivery so as to reduce the burden on businesses and improve Greater Victoria’s reputation as a region.

Present advocacy efforts include:
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Regulatory Environment

Members are increasingly aware of the need to adapt and evolve to meet customer demands, such as to offer more convenience, lower prices, and increasingly unique customer experiences. Members are concerned when emerging business models such as Airbnb and Uber affect traditional industries, and when existing regulations disadvantage businesses, e.g. municipal private liquor store zoning, or when they are inadequate, e.g. marijuana retailing. For example: 
  • current short-term vacation rentals and commercial ride share services create an unfair environment for regulated taxi, hotels, etc.,
  • the proposed City of Victoria ban or levy on retail plastic bags disadvantage regional or national competitors, and
  • the City of Victoria proposed regulation of illegal marijuana stores may not be adequate to address the associated risks.

The Chamber’s position is that a well designed and effectively enforced regulations and legislation supports businesses, protects consumers, and contributes to healthy and safe communities.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for the creation or review of regulatory and legislative frameworks, at all levels of government, to ensure a fair and competitive environment.

Present advocacy efforts include Regulate and Manage the Emerging Short-Term Rental Business Enterprise.

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Regional Transportation and Infrastructure

Members are concerned about increasing vehicle travel times, aging/inadequate transportation infrastructure and disproportionate and costly approaches to non-vehicle related transportation modes. For example:
  • commuting and road traffic in general are becoming more time consuming, especially to and from Westshore communities, and
  • planning for major routes and infrastructure, such as the Johnson St Bridge, Belleville Terminal, and McKenzie Interchange are treated as if they are the responsibility of a single municipality

The Chamber’s position is that a fast, easy and reliable regional transportation system will attract and retain workers and investors, and support key sectors such as tourism.

In 2017, The Chamber will advocate for a regional transportation authority  and for funding for upgrades to critical infrastructure.

Present advocacy efforts include:
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