Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
March 3, 2021
46th Annual Greater Victoria Flower Count launch at Abkhazi Garden
Feds extend subsidies for wages and rent payments
It was expected news but welcomed nonetheless by employers across Canada. The federal government announced today that it will extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy until June 5. A previous extension was set to expire March 13.

The wage subsidy covers up to 75% of payroll costs, while the rent subsidy pays up to 65% of rental payments for those who qualify. As well, a top-up is available for businesses forced to close due to restrictions.
Transportation Minister addresses The Chamber
Making it easier to get around Greater Victoria, and addressing climate change were among the many topics addressed yesterday by BC's Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming.

The Minister spoke to Chamber members as part of our ongoing Business Restart Series, which continues March 30 with Agricultural Minister Lana Popham (details below).

Fleming spoke about continuing efforts to make getting to work convenient for commuters who live in more affordable areas of the region. For example, he said the McKenzie Interchange, which is "substantially complete," has cut commute times to the West Shore in half. As well, an additional widening of the highway will make the route ready for Light Rapid Transit. Another concept that is still being looked at is a ferry from Colwood to Victoria.
The Minister also addressed The Chamber's calls for better transportation governance in the region. Fleming said the solution requires something other than the system of weighted votes used by the Capital Regional District. Greater Victoria needs a body that looks at the region as whole, and not as a collection of 13 municipalities.

The Minister also responded to a Chamber member question by encouraging businesses to lend their voice to a proposed "flyover" overpass from the Pat Bay Highway northbound to Keating Cross Road westbound, eliminating the left turn across highway traffic onto Keating Cross Road.

If you missed yesterday's event but would like to hear more about what the Minister had to say, the video is available for purchase.
Thank you to
TD Bank Group for sponsoring our minister series of events.
Just announced
Growing Local: Food Security on Vancouver Island
The emergence of the pandemic, and subsequent panic buying in grocery stores, highlighted the reliance modern societies have on national and international food distribution systems.

Hear from Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, how new policies, programs and technology are helping increase food security, support urban agriculture systems and the growing realization that when people Buy BC they are supporting food production, jobs, and sustainability in our communities.
Funding for food hubs increases Island food security
The provincial government announced yesterday it plans to invest $2 million to buy food-processing equipment for three new food hubs, including one in Victoria. The province is partnering with the City of Victoria and the Victoria Community Food Hub Society to help businesses access shared food and beverage processing space and equipment to increase their production and sales.

“The development of a regional food hub is the culmination of years of work to identify the infrastructure needed in the region to support advancing the food and farm sector," Linda Geggie, VCFHS spokesperson, said in the provincial news release. "This food hub is unique in that it is marrying economic development goals with social good, supporting food services and distribution of good local food to people in our region. There is a lot of potential in this initiative and we are pleased with the support from the many partners involved.”
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
Take the ferry for $49 under BC Ferries new rates
New fare choices for BC Ferries will provide better "value, flexibility and certainty" for passengers travelling to or from the Island.

The Prepaid and Saver fares, announced today, can be purchased in advance of sailing the major routes between the Island and mainland.

BC Ferries President and CEO Mark Collins, who has previously spoken at Chamber events about moving to a prepaid model, said once travel restrictions are lifted the new fares will "help spread traffic across the day, reducing sailing waits at popular times.”

Saver fares will range from $49 to $73.70, including reservation, and are available year-round for travellers able to choose less busy sailing times.

The prepaid fare enables customers to pay for reservations and travel in advance, making boarding more convenient.
BC Ferry Services: Member since 1983
Changes coming to real estate industry oversight
The BC Financial Services Authority is set to take on oversight of the province's real estate industry. By bringing the Real Estate Council of BC and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate under the BCFSA, the province hopes to reduce money laundering by better coordinating the financial services sector.

The amendments to the Real Estate Services Act are expected in late-2021, and will give BCFSA authority for:
  • education and licensing for real estate professionals
  • establishing rules governing the conduct for real estate professionals
  • investigation and discipline for licensed and unlicensed individuals.
Chamber Chat looks into homelessness in our region
Julian Daly, CEO of Our Place Society, spoke with Chamber CEO Bruce Williams as part of a recent Chamber Chat focused on homelessness and the difficult reality facing people without stable housing or vital support networks.

The Chamber advocates for Safe Communities by calling for solutions that address underlying challenges. Knowing the facts behind the headlines will help focus our efforts on calling for real changes that will benefit how all of us safely experience our city streets and parks.
Special thanks to our series sponsor: Island Savings
Our Place Society: Member since 2010
Greater Victoria getting 210 new child-care spaces
News that Greater Victoria is in line for 210 new licensed child-care spaces will be welcomed by parents. Many working families are often underemployed because parents are unable to work due to the lack of accessible, affordable care for their kids.

The provincial government announced the spaces yesterday as part of its Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, which has created 1,630 spaces in Greater Victoria since 2018.
Proposed law would extend rent freeze, prevent 'renovictions '
Proposed new legislation will prevent renters in BC from being evicted from their homes under the guise of renovations. If passed, the legislation will also extend the current rent freeze until Dec. 31, limit future rent increases to inflation and improve the process landlords and tenants use to solve differences.

LandlordBC CEO David Hutniak called the move to prevent unfair evictions a road map for positive change, though the organization has not endorsed the rent freeze which was initially announced last November. The extension beyond July means that any rent increases planned before Dec. 31 no longer apply.

“LandlordBC believes that encouraging continued investment to prolong or sustain the useful life of a rental unit or building is essential," Hutniak said in the province's news release, adding that it's important renovations requiring tenants to move out of a unit are done in good faith, and that the process to establish legitimacy is efficient. Landlords would have to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch before evicting a tenant to undertake renovations.

The changes, if passed, will come into effect on July 1.

Tell us what you think, and how this extension impacts your business. Email
Funds help Songhees launch cultural marine tour
When the time is right to welcome visitors back to our region, a new experience will be ready to share the story of the Lək̓ʷəŋən people's land and history. The Songhees Nation received $637,900 from the province's Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program to help build a 25-foot aluminum landing craft that can fit 12 passengers.

The vessel will take people on tours of culturally significant sites where the Lək̓ʷəŋən fished and gathered other food sources such as shellfish and berries. The marine trail runs from Colwood down past Victoria and up to Cadboro Bay. Tours are expected to begin next year.
Songhees Nation: Member since 2017
Highlighting our Chamber Champions
As part of the celebration of Chamber Week in February, our Chamber Champions submitted quotes highlighting the importance of investing in The Chamber. Each week we will be showcasing these quotes.
"We are stronger together. The Chamber fosters collaboration and advocates for a vibrant business environment in Greater Victoria."
Learn more about how these organizations are championing the work of The Chamber.
2021 Flower Count – a virtual bouquet
The 46th Annual Greater Victoria Flower Count begins today! With over 45,932,377,422 blooms counted in 2020, Greater Victoria is undoubtedly Canada’s “Garden City.” But how did this event become an annual tradition?
In the late 1960s, members of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce started a promotion called “Victorian Days.” In late February, they would visit cities such as Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg, handing out daffodils to the general public, radio stations and news rooms. This light-hearted event would poke fun at other cities that may have to wait a few more months before they see their own flowers blooming. 
This year, our messaging to the rest of Canada is different. We still want to share our blooms, but with a different purpose. We are sending a virtual bouquet of flowers across Canada to show the country that, as we all traverse together along the COVID-pandemic path, this is not the time to claim we are doing better than the rest of Canada, simply because our weather is better.
We are in the same struggle as all Canadians. We are in this together.
Our goal in 2021 is to spread spring cheer to residents of Greater Victoria and encourage you to stop and count the flowers while out in your communities. Everyone is invited to participate in counting flowers, including schools. The Grade 4 or 5 class that counts the most blossoms in Greater Victoria will win a gift certificate for afternoon tea at The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden for each student, plus seeds to plant your own flowers for next year’s count.
Also, be sure to enter the social media contest by tagging #FlowerCount on Instagram, where you can win a bundle of garden goodies from the Gardens at HCP as well as an afternoon Tea for Two at The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden.
Chamber Job Board

Give your job opening some extra attention with The Chamber’s job board.

For an extra $45 USD per job posting, shoot your listing to the top of the job board and increase the amount of job-seekers that view your job offer. Your job will also have a highlighted “FEATURED” badge and will be published to the Google Jobs Network.
You can also upgrade your previously-posted positions to ensure your job opening gets the most views over time.
Learn more about how to post on the job board and utilize featured posting here. ​

If you have any questions about the Job Board, please email
Member News
Dance Across Victoria

Have you been eager to show off your dance moves? The Greater Victoria Festival Society invites you to “Dance Across Victoria” and submit a 10- to 15-second dance video to show how you celebrate Victoria. All ages and skill levels are welcome to submit a clip by March 20.
Greater Victoria Festival Society: member since 2016
Uber expands delivery

Uber Canada has expanded their food delivery service to include the Saanich Peninsula. Now available from Sidney to Saanich, UberEats offers a safe option to buy local delicacies. Perfect timing to indulge as Dine Around & Stay in Victoria is extended to March 8.
Uber Canada: member since 2019
Video for Business workshop

Have you been trying to figure out how to promote your business with video? Roll.Focus. Productions has launched a Video for Business online workshop to do just that. With 24 on-demand lessons, the workshop features personalized feedback and downloadable resources as well as a complementary e-book on video-based marketing. Read about how Roll.Focus implemented this innovative pivot in Douglas Magazine here.

Mike Walker, the executive director of Roll.Focus was the Emerging Business Person award winner at the 2020 Greater Victoria Business Awards
Roll.Focus. Productions: member since 2019
Douglas Magazine: member since 2004
Help replenish spring break camps

Oaklands Community Association has recently suffered from a large flood, resulting in the loss of many reading and learning materials. To ensure spring break camps can run, donations of books, crayons, or other items are needed. Monetary donations can be made here.
Oaklands Community Association: member since 2019
Provincial resource toolkit

Community Living Victoria has developed a downloadable list of province-wide resources to help individuals stay strong and connected. With resources to access Short-Term Housing/Emergency Shelters, employment support, counseling and much more, the list is designed to be beneficial to those who may have limited access to technology.

Community Living Victoria: member since 2014
Seaweed success

Cascadia Seaweed has added four new species of seaweed to Health Canada's Ingredient Database, an essential step before any natural health care product can be sold in Canada. More information about these innovative creations will be announced on May 20 during the first annual Seaweed Days, a festival organized by Cascadia Seaweed to expand North America’s acceptance of seaweed as a food product.
Cascadia Seaweed is a finalist in the Sustainable Business Practices category of the 2021 Greater Victoria Business Awards
Cascadia Seaweed: member since 2021 
Cycling route suggestions

Planning is underway for cycling routes in the James Bay neighborhood, and the City of Victoria is looking for your suggestions. Watch a virtual tour of the proposed cycling routes and map your feedback on an interactive map here.
City of Victoria: member since 1962
Female focused mentoring program

Codan Radio Communications is partnering with Victoria-based company Locelle to help advance Codan Communications’ workforce that identifies as women with a unique mentoring program. The program offers 1:1 mentor matching, live leadership sessions promoting a learning environment, and networking with peers with similar interests and goals. Codan is actively designing new policies and implementing solutions to create an equitable workplace.
With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, now is a great time to reflect and ensure your organization is taking active steps to achieve equality in the workplace.
Codan Radio Communications: member since 1987
Old Laptops Project

The Victoria HarbourCats are seeking old laptops and power cords. The initiative aims to assist The Cuban Baseball Federation in technological and economic advancement, a challenge that has been exasperated due to COVID-19. The current target is to source 30 laptops that will be shipped to Cuba. if you have a spare laptop or extra cords, you can drop them off the team's office at 1814 Vancouver St., or call 778-265-0327

Victoria HarbourCats: member since 2012
Do you have a success story? We want to hear from you!
Welcome to our newest members!