Dan Dagg of The Chamber, Minister Wilkinson, Catherine Holt of The Chamber and Ian Robertson of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority
Fisheries with Lunch 
The Chamber hosted Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard at a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority last Friday. See the photos here
The luncheon was well attended both by local Chamber members and chambers across the island, as Wilkinson addressed concerns about the future of whales, salmon and ocean-based businesses. Wilkinson spoke about his government's efforts to protect salmon and orcas by managing threats such as noise, interference, pollution, climate change and lack of food. There were many questions and suggestions from the attendees around striking a balance between protection of and access to salmon and whales for coastal communities.  
Wilkinson was clear that ensuring the survival of the southern resident killer whales would consistently be his ministry's primary objective, and it is only by concerted effort that there will be success.  
Wilkinson hosted a news conference that morning with BC Premier John Horgan to announce that the provincial government was contributing $43 million on top of the $100 million the federal government committed last fall to the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.
To find out more about the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, go to BCSRIF.ca.
News coverage:
Chamber News
Business Leaders Luncheons
2019 Marketplace Mixer
Prodigy Group April Mingle
Business Awards
YYJ Eats 2019
Event Photos
Upcoming Chamber Events

Spec tax deadline fast approaching
All residential property owners within the Capital Regional District must complete an annual declaration for the speculation and vacancy tax by Mar. 31, 2019. All property owners should have received their declaration letter. If you haven't received your letter yet please call 1-833-554-2323.

If you don't complete your declaration, you'll receive a tax notice charging you the tax at the maximum tax rate.
Network with over 300 people and meet more than 50 businesses who will be showcasing their services and products. We have some amazing door prizes from ski tickets to whale watching.
Sponsored by:
Thu, Mar 21 | 4-7 pm
Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa
100 Harbour Rd.

Fast Ferry to Westshore another E&N Railway?
BC Ferries released its feasibility study of a ferry to and from the Westshore this week as a means to address car traffic congestion. It has received mixed reviews.
On one hand, creating alternatives to the car as our predominant mode of transportation is always welcome. That's why there is such interest in restoring the E&N railway as a commuter route, building dedicated bus lanes and expanding our network of bike lanes, for example. We are surrounded by water and have a well-run and well-used coastal ferry system. So it's rational to consider commuting by water as another alternative.
But, as with the E&N Railway proposal it's important to put the cost of the BC Ferries proposal in context. The capital for the vessels and terminals is estimated at $100 million and the operating at just over $30 million for two passenger-only ferries departing every 40 minutes.
In comparison, the annual operating budget for the entire Victoria transit system is $131 million. The proposed $130 million for the Westshore ferry, would pay for a massive improvement in the frequency and routes available by bus everywhere in the region.
To support getting people to their jobs in a time and cost effective manner, we've been advocating for funding from all three levels of government to complete dedicated bus lanes to and from Downtown and the Westshore. Partially completed, there is evidence of reduced commute time and increased ridership. Let's focus on finishing the bus lanes then reassessing, before chasing after another unproven and costly alternative.
Swartz Bay Terminal Development Plan
BC Ferries has been very busy recently and in addition to looking to relieve traffic pressures in the Westshore area they have also released The Swartz Bay Terminal Development Plan (TDP). It is one of several projects earmarked in its $1.4-billion budget capital plan to upgrade some of its 47 terminals.
The development plan, which looks out 25 years, is likely to break ground in 2021 with most of the major construction done over the following 10 years. Phase 1 would focus on improving road access as well as pick-up and drop-off areas for foot passengers.  
Last spring, BC Ferries consulted with over 1,000 people to help shape a long-term vision for the terminal. The feedback included suggested improvements for passenger buildings, the development of cycling routes entering and leaving the terminal, better food services and a possible waterpark for children.   
Staff will be at Swartz Bay from April 10 to 13 to provide more information on the proposed plan. Further engagement will ensure the community is aware of detailed designs for each phase of the project and any potential construction impacts for local residents.  
BC Ferries: member since 1983  

Budget for everyone

Bill Morneau, Federal Finance Minister, has presented a budget to the country for the last four years. This year's was a clear harbinger of an election year. There is a little taste of something for virtually everyone.

Workers looking to upgrade skills can now access up to $5000 over their life for training to upgrade skills. And as of 2020, EI will now provide up to four weeks of paid leave every four years to help cover living expenses while training and not working.

Homebuyers can now utilize an additional $10,000 from their RRSP towards a downpayment, providing access to $35,000. If you're a first time homebuyer, CMHC will also help with the downpayment. The example in the budget was if you're buying a $400,000 new home and have saved up 5% ($20,000), CHMC will partner up with you, kicking in 10% ($40,000) in a shared equity mortgage. Details on timeline and how it is paid back are still to be released. We were hoping for more homes in Victoria to be available for $400,000, but there were no new measures for affordable housing.

A plan to provide universal Pharmacare has been set aside for now and instead the Canadian Drug Agency has been created as a national buying powerhouse for medication with an additional mandate to create a national strategy for high-cost drugs.

For those of you wincing today at the price at the pumps, the only bright side is that Ottawa has committed to double the amount of Gas Tax accessible to municipalities applying for infrastructure project grants, for a national total of $2.2 billion.

Green initiatives include a $5000 credit to anyone purchasing a zero-emissions vehicle and a 15% tax credit for a personal digital news subscription.

There is a $3.25 billion commitment to Indigenous Services to improve water quality, child welfare, education and other supports. $9.1 million of that has been allocated to help build a new Indigenous Law building at the University of Victoria.

The major criticism that Morneau faced is the $19.8 billion budget deficit. For more information on how the budget impacts you on issues such as pensions, stock options and tax measures click here.
Annual General Meeting & Mayoral Address
Last fall during the municipal election, residents of the City of Victoria and District of Saanich were asked, "Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens' Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?"

Residents in both regions resoundingly voted in favour.

Hear how Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes plan to encourage this and other historic collaborations between the two municipalities.
Sponsored by:
Tue, May 7 | 11:30 am-1:30 pm
Hotel Grand Pacific
463 Belleville St

Victoria inching closer to tiny homes
The City of Victoria is one step closer to allowing tiny homes in the city. According to a recent Victoria News article, city staff have been directed to look at various housing options, including tiny homes, as part of the city's strategic plan.  
In Victoria movable tiny homes are not currently allowed in back yards, but the mayor wants that to change.  
Helps says she hopes to see recommendations from the initial stages of the strategic plan brought to council by the end of 2019 so people can begin building in 2020 depending on public input. 
City of Victoria: member since 1962  
Members Around Town

Headliners for jazz festival announced 
The Victoria Jazz Society announced that the headliners for the TD Victoria International JazzFest are Raul Midón, Lionel Loueke, Laila Biali, The Suffers, Patricia Barber Trio, Joey Alexander Trio and Jacob Collier. The 36th TD Victoria International JazzFest takes place Friday, June 21 - Sunday, June 30, 2019.  
Victoria Jazz Society: member since 2009 
Flower Count results 
The 44th Annual Greater Victoria Flower Count total was 44,588,324,077 blooms! For the past five years in a row, the municipality of Colwood took home the title of the 'Bloomingest Community' in Greater Victoria, but this year the City of Victoria won with 19,948,306,872 blooms counted. Started in 1976 by The Chamber as a light-hearted event to promote the beauty and colour of our region, it is now organized along with The Butchart Gardens and Destination Greater Victoria.
The Butchart Gardens: member since 1976 
Destination Greater Victoria: member since 1988 
Engaged for Good recipient 
Engaged HR Inc.'s 2019 Engaged for Good recipient is the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness. Engaged HR originally valued the project at $2500 but this year pledged to donate an additional $5 from every DisruptHR ticket sold, resulting in an increased total of $4250 to support the not-for-profit community.  
Engaged HR: member since 2014  
Insurance Reassurance

As a small business owner, sometimes it feels like you have to do it all. Making sure your business and staff are taken care of is no easy task especially when everyone's health and wellness directly affects the success of your business. On top of this, it can be stressful when unexpected problems come up that require an expert opinion - HR, accounting, legal, etc.

The good news is that The Chamber's Group Insurance plan, administered locally by Jack Insurance and Financial Services, looks after both sides of your business. It goes well beyond just providing you with health and dental coverage plans and includes a free "visit" to Business Assistance Service (BAS).

This confidential service provides access to up to six hours of professional accounting, counseling, legal or human resource advice by experts who understand the difficulties small business owners face. So when you have a challenging situation, you have somewhere to turn for support.

Keep your most important asset, your people, healthy and well taken care of with the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan - the most popular employee benefits plan in Canada for small business. For more info or to register your business, call 250-383-9866 or email Rob Jack.

Jack Insurance and Financial Services: Member since 1998
Launched in the fall of 2017, the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) Prosperity Index was developed to measure a number of indicators across the South Island such as employment, education, governance, affordability and innovation.  
This lunch will provide an update on how the region is doing against its previous numbers as well as comparing it to other cities in the world.  
Sponsored by: 
Thu, Apr 18 | 11:30 am-1 pm          
Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour
728 Humboldt St.


Spring Fever  
Spring Fever is upon us with the birds singing, plants blooming and temperatures soaring into the high teens. Today also marks a very special Spring Equinox where a rare worm moon coincides with the equinox.  
The equinox happens twice a year and often symbolizes change and new beginnings for many people. Now is the perfect time to get to that lingering home project, spring clean your place, work on your garden or start that fitness routine.
Happy Spring Equinox!
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