Since 1863, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has adapted to the times to serve the best interests of businesses in our region and on Vancouver Island.
We helped chart a path through world wars, global downturns and pandemics. And while we always emerged from difficult times, we have never known exactly what the future holds.
In these unprecedented times, we can’t tell you exactly when life will get back to normal or if things will ever be the same as they were before COVID-19. But we promise you we are working night and day to help businesses survive as we restart BC’s economy.
The Chamber was one of the first and loudest voices calling for the federal and provincial government to quickly support businesses forced to close or reduce operations to stop the spread of COVID-19. We made phone calls, wrote letters and spoke to the media about the need for relief.
Government listened and announced a wage subsidy, commercial rent relief, tax deferrals and other programs designed to help businesses survive until the economy recovers.
We will continue to be there during this transition. As the province moves through Phase 2 of the Restart BC plan, more people are getting back to work and back to supporting our retailers, restaurants and services.
British Columbia has been spared the worst. We dutifully followed the advice of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and we are now among the best-positioned jurisdictions in North America for a successful restart.
The coming weeks and months will not be easy. We don’t know when international travel will return. Without visitors bringing money into our region, tourism-dependent businesses will need to change their operating model to cater to locals and Canadians from elsewhere in the country.
As we move from spring into summer, and what should be a time of prosperity, The Chamber will continue to call for support for this sector. But we will also be going through a time of change.
On June 15, we say thank you and good bye to Catherine Holt, who has served as CEO since 2016. Catherine’s leadership helped The Chamber become a more diverse and influential business organization that has a voice at the highest levels of government.
We’re lucky, in these uncertain times, to be able to seamlessly transition to our new CEO, Bruce Williams. Bruce’s high energy and impressive network of community connections will be key to engaging with business and government, so we can get back to a thriving economy.