Join The Chamber and Prodigy Group for the May Business Mixer & Mingle hosted by Pacific Football Club at the Rooftop at the Strathcona Hotel this Thursday, May 9 from 5-7 pm.
Member input requested for 'fair wages' commission
Reminder that The Chamber is seeking input from members for our submission to the provincial government's Fair Wages Commission. The Chamber is scheduled to speak on May 31.  
There are many variables that go into wage considerations and we know that many businesses in Greater Victoria pay much higher than minimum wage in order to retain workers. Government can create conditions for affordable housing, better public transit and more accessible child-care to help address three of the biggest costs facing employees.  
Please send your input or suggestions on this or any other advocacy effort, to Jim Zeeben at
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Upcoming Chamber Events

Mayors engage in spirited dialogue about amalgamation
This was no ordinary AGM.  
The Chamber held its Annual General Meeting yesterday and attendees were treated to a dynamic dialogue about a topic that has sparked debate in our region for decades. The event was sponsored by Bayview Place and the cooperative education programs at the University of Victoria and Camosun College. Click here to see the photos. 
Chamber Chair Dan Dagg provided an over view of The Chamber's very successful year and took care of formal AGM business, announcing a modest surplus for 2018, a healthy investment fund and a clean audit. Then CEO Catherine Holt introduced the guest speakers and moderated a discussion. 
City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and District of Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes told the sold-out audience about their communities' strengths and values, and how they are approaching their mandate to investigate amalgamation.
In last year's civic elections, voters in both municipalities approved spending $250,000 to move forward with holding a citizens' assembly to explore costs, benefits and disadvantages of amalgamation.
Mayor Helps drew laughter when she noted that Saanich's own website uses Victoria for its mailing address. Mayor Haynes was quick to respond, quipping that Saanich is the great in "Greater" Victoria.
"Both municipalities have formally existed for more than a century so it's not surprising that there's a lot of ingrained pride and passion about how they've developed over the decades," says Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "It's also clear that what residents are most passionate about goes beyond artificial boundaries and bureaucratic frameworks. Residents of both municipalities want to live in a great city with efficient government and a sustainable approach to our economy, food production and the environment."
Victoria has approved a terms of reference for the citizens' assembly, while Saanich is finalizing its terms. After it does, the two municipalities will negotiate combined terms.
The mayors suggested it's not unreasonable to expect a conclusion could be reached by next year. If the assembly recommends against amalgamation, the process (and perhaps the debate) would end. If amalgamation is recommended, the mayors and councils of each municipality would vote on whether to proceed to a public referendum that would be run by the province.
The Chamber thanks the mayors for yesterday's discussion and we look forward to working with both municipalities as they continue taking steps to improve governance in our region.  
What's ahead for one of our region's biggest industries?    
Tourism is a major economic driver in this region accounting for over $2.3 billion dollars in economic activity and one of the largest employers in the Capital Regional District.
Hear from Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie on the federal government's work on Canadian innovation and economic development, the federal budget, and tourism. 
Sponsored by: 
Only 5 tickets left!
Mon, May 13 | 12-1:30 pm       
The Union Club of British Columbia
805 Gordon St.

Summer of roadwork shows need for better regional planning
Commuters can expect frustration levels to rise with the heat this summer.
An inconvenient convergence of construction is highlighting the need for regional thinking about transportation in Greater Victoria. The Chamber continues to advocate for a regional transportation authority that could better coordinate projects, rather than leave scheduling up to each of our region's 13 municipalities.
"The outcome will be better but the process is very painful," Chamber CEO Catherine Holt told CHEK news. "It's wonderful to have federal and provincial investment in transportation in our region, which we haven't seen in a long time. We'd just like to see better coordination."  
The City of Victoria is closing the Bay Street bridge to eastbound traffic for five months. Other projects include ongoing construction of the McKenzie Interchange, installation of sewage treatment infrastructure on Dallas Road and new bike lanes on Wharf Street.
As well, work is also planned for McCallum Road in Langford, Highway 14, and adding in southbound bus lanes on the Trans Canada Highway. 

Members Around Town

Knocking the beer out of the park    
Red Arrow and the Victoria HarbourCats have entered into a multi-year agreement for Red Arrow to be the primary beer provider at Wilson's Group Stadium, with the HarbourCats Ballpark Blonde, the Piggy Pale Ale and the Kustom Kolsch being featured at all HarbourCats games. The Harbourcats Ballpark Blonde is a lager style ale - the perfect stadium beer.  
Victoria HarbourCats: member since 2012  
Crystal Pool replacement update
As negotiations with RG Properties failed to reach an agreement to build a replacement Crystal Pool on the parking lot next to Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, the City of Victoria is eyeing one of Central Middle School's playing fields as a viable option. The city received an enthusiastic letter from the Greater Victoria School District SD61 board about partnering with the city on the option. The city had already spent about $2 million in planning and design for a new $70-million pool and wellness facility to be built in the park adjacent to the existing Crystal Pool when council decided to change direction. 
City of Victoria: member since 1962   
Greater Victoria School District SD61: member since 2018 
Victoria Community Leadership Awards  
Leadership Victoria's Victoria Community Leadership Awards celebrate community leadership and recognize those who have made a lasting contribution to Greater Victoria. With 20 award winners, categories range from Lifelong Learning to Innovative Science and Technology to Healthy Safe Environments. The awards
ceremony takes place May 23 at Government House.  
Leadership Victoria: member since 2018 
The Original FARM is re-opening its Hillside location 
The Original FARM Hillside has obtained its provincial as well as municipal license to sell cannabis from its original location, 3055a Scott St., across from Hillside Shopping Centre. Victoria City Council unanimously voted in favour of this cannabis retail application having hosted a second opportunity for public comment and hearing an abundance of positive feedback from the community. FARM has been providing safe access to cannabis in this discreet and professional environment since 2015. This is The Original FARM's second location fully licensed and open in Victoria.  
The Original FARM Hillside: member since 2018 
VIATEC Awards Finalists 
The Victoria high-tech sector has announced the finalists for the 19th annual VIATEC Awards. Winners will be revealed at the gala on the evening of June 14 at the Royal Theatre. VIATEC's Member of the Year is going to former Chamber Board member Sang Kiet-Ly of KPMG for his dedicated involvement with VIATEC over many years, and for the continuous work he does with the tech community. 
VIATEC : member since 1991  
Northern Sea Wolf 
The Northern Sea Wolf is undergoing docking trials as BC Ferries prepares to resume long-awaited direct summer service between Vancouver Island and the central coast. The ferry goes into service on May 18 for the final two weeks of its winter connector schedule. On June 3, it begins direct service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola, running until Oct. 10. The 246-foot-long Northern Sea Wolf is a former Greek ferry bought for $12.6 million in 2017. The final bill to retrofit the ship was $76 million, though a federal grant covered $15 million of that cost.  
BC Ferries: member since 1983     
YYJ Eats   
Some things get better with age. Join us in our 5th year and experience an exciting variety of gourmet food samples, local wine, craft beers and specialty cocktails created and presented by s ome of Victoria's most   popular  restaurants, breweries, wineries, cideries & spirit makers .
Tues, Jun 4 | 5-7 pm
St. Ann's Academy Historical Site
835 Humboldt St.
Sponsored by:  
The Chamber's new co-op student!
The Chamber is pleased to welcome Scott Spanier as our new Events Assistant. He will be working on getting donations for the 37th Annual Dinner Auction Gala and assisting on other events throughout the summer.

Scott has recently completed his third year of studies at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at UVic, focusing on a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a specialization in entrepreneurship. Aside from school, Scott spends his free time outdoors where you can find him rock climbing or competing on the UVic Ultimate Frisbee team. In the fall, Scott will be studying abroad in Oslo, Norway.

Scott is extremely excited to start his role as an Events Assistant, and is looking forward to working with our members. Feel free to connect with Scott at the next Chamber event, on LinkedIn, by email or phone at 250-953-6684 to discuss donation opportunities.  
Privacy Week a reminder of obligation to secure business data
Doing business in a data-rich economy has created challenges for ensuring information is kept private. From 2015 to 2018, there was a 56% increase in the number of privacy breaches reported under the BC Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).
To help, the provincial government has declared May 6-12 as Privacy Awareness Week.
The BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is reminding Chamber members of a suite of tools called PrivacyRight, launched by Commissioner Michael McEvoy at a Chamber Business Leaders Breakfast on March 7.
Read commissioner McEvoy's recent op-ed on the need to better protect privacy rights in BC here.
Accelerate your export plan

Are you exporting currently or looking to do so soon? The Chamber wants to help you succeed.

Partnering with the World Trade Organization, this course led by export experts will result in a road map for success. Participating organizations experienced an average international sales growth of 70% within one year of completing the program. Click here to watch a video about how TAP can help your business.

Full bursaries available for a limited time, for qualifying companies. Value $5,000. Deadline for registration is May 25.

This is a four-day course held over a six-week period. Victoria course dates are June 18, June 19, June 26 and July 24. Click here for more details.
Feds move to strengthen immigration industry's integrity
Details of a plan to help "honest and ethical" immigration consultants by creating a professional college to regulate the industry were unveiled Monday by federal Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen.
The plan, initially announced in April's federal budget, will create a new College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants that will replace the existing Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
Minister Hussen said a decision was made not to implement a recommendation to place the new college under government control due to concerns about liability and conflict of interest.
Chamber members were able to engage in a spirited Q&A session with Minister Hussen on April 25 at a Business Leaders Breakfast.
FortisBC offers to help fleets convert to alt-fuels
FortisBC is offering to work with commercial fleet owners and local governments to reduce emissions and lower fuel costs. 
FortisBC is able to help organizations transition their fleets to low-carbon fuel alternatives through vehicle incentives. Fortis BC will also provide fueling infrastructure, including commercial electric-vehicle charging, as well as natural-gas and hydrogen fueling stations.
The program's goal is to support the provincial government's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation by helping organizations work with available funding sources to support the transition to low carbon solutions for transportation. 
The deadline to apply for NRCan funding is next week on May 16. For more information on the program, contact Fortis BC's Della Bond at 604-317-8984.
 FortisBC: member since 1990 
Fire guts old hotel
The former Plaza Hotel, gutted by fire that burned for several days this week, is being torn down, City of Victoria officials said. Victoria's director of engineering and public works said there's little chance of saving the façade of the heritage building. The fire broke out early Monday morning, and stubborn flare ups continued as late as this afternoon.
Government Street and affected businesses remain closed between Johnson and Pandora Streets, until further notice. Victoria City Hall also remains closed while it undergoes smoke remediation. The city council meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been moved to the Capital Regional District's sixth-floor boardroom.
Mike Draeger, the building's caretaker, has not been accounted for and Victoria police are asking anyone who might know his whereabouts to come forward.
The Chamber would like to thank the Victoria Fire Department, the Victoria Police Department and anyone else who was involved in helping contain the blaze.

Victoria Police Department: member since 2008

Victoria Fire Department: member since 2014

City of Victoria: member since 1962

Welcome to our newest members!

Chamber Name Tags
In response to members' requests, The Chamber has redesigned the name tags Chamber members can purchase. We increased the prominence of your business name while keeping your name clearly visible.

Need to get one of the snazzy new Chamber Name tags? Email us to order yours today.