Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
March 31, 2021
Food security for Island key to economic recovery
If you missed yesterday's Business Restart Series with BC Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Lana Popham, you can access the video today.

The Minister, who serves as MLA for Saanich-South, speaks with Chamber CEO Bruce Williams about how the pandemic has exposed the risks of over relying on international food systems and emphasized the importance of investing in local food production as well as the economic and green benefits of local production.

Other topics include how new Buy BC programs and food hubs are supporting local producers, and the future of fish farms off the coast.
Sponsored by:
COVID circuit breaker leaves businesses in the dark
The pandemic and the "unprecedented uncertainty" we've all had to live with for more than year is not an excuse for surprise decisions that damage businesses.
Monday's announcement that restaurants, pubs and bars had mere hours to implement severe restrictions could have been handled better. Business has been leading the charge on following restrictions and keeping our community safe, but we need the government to work with us.

"It's clear that decision makers in government don't understand business, which is why we're calling for the province to do a better job of working alongside organizations such as ours," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "I'm talking to our partner organizations in Greater Victoria and the other Island chambers to offer the province a readily available advisory network that understands the challenges facing businesses."

Monday's decision left the restaurant and hospitality industry reeling. The Downtown Victoria Business Association reports that business owners are worried about wasting food purchased as part of plans for Easter weekend. Staff are also anxious about their jobs, while the tourism industry has been left feeling kicked while already on the ground.

Destination Greater Victoria says it's hearing from hotels that, after Monday's announcement, guests have cancelled planned visits as far out as September. According to DGV, the sector could lose $900,000, based on 6,000 hotel rooms with an average room rate of $150.
Downtown Victoria Business Association: Member since 2007
Destination Greater Victoria: Member since 1988
Hudson gets $100m for affordable rentals
The creation of 227 affordable rental units in downtown Victoria is an investment in our future workforce and our region's economy. On Tuesday, the federal government announced a $100 million loan for the Hudson Place 2 development at 1700 Blanshard St. The project features 245 multi-residential units in total. Most of those ear-marked for affordable housing will be rented at 30% of the local median income for a minimum of 16 years. As well, 49 units will rent for 70% below the median household income.

“People like teachers, nurses, shopkeepers, firefighters, paramedics, construction workers. Those people are finding it harder and harder to afford rent in Canada’s urban centres,” Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, told CHEK News.

As the economy rebounds, one of the biggest challenges facing employers is finding and keeping workers. Our region needs housing that is affordable in order to attract and retain a workforce.
Vic West building purchased for temporary shelter
Another building has been purchased by BC Housing to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Greater Victoria. The province announced yesterday that 70 indoor spaces will be available after renovations to 225 Russell St. in Victoria.

“In order to hit our target of bringing everyone in tents in parks in Victoria inside by the end of April, this building is a necessary part of the plan,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, adding the plan is to renovate the site for use as long-term supportive housing.

Our Place Society will operate the shelter and help residents access support services as needed.

Make sure to register for our Business Restart Series with Shayne Ramsay, CEO BC Housing on May 11. Details below!
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
Our Place Society: Member since 2010
BC Housing: Member since 2021
Langford extends sidewalk permits for businesses
Businesses in the City of Langford will have more confidence about expanding operations after council voted to extend permits for up to three years.

Restaurants and retail businesses had been asking for certainty in order to invest in exterior capital improvements to support outdoor dining and expanded business capacity. Langford's bylaw, previously requiring annual renewal, was amended to allow operations on sidewalks, boulevards and other common areas for up to three years under a single permit.

“Council has recognized that the implications of the pandemic are still a major challenge for many local businesses,” Langford Mayor Stew Young says. “Through this bylaw amendment, we have cut the red tape to make the process of expanding a patio or storefront this spring simple and efficient, while ensuring the safety of customers and staff.”

The Chamber continues working with all municipalities in Greater Victoria to enable innovative solutions to restaurants and all businesses affected by the pandemic.
City of Langford: Member since 2019
Tax credit applications now open for BC employers
Employers can now apply for the BC employer tax credit originally announced last September.

"With 2020 payrolls finalized, businesses will know if they are eligible for a credit that could equal up to 15% of any increase in total eligible payroll paid in the last quarter of 2020. The tax credit could be as much as $2,230 per employee," states the provincial news release.

The credit will be applied to any outstanding Employer Health Tax or other debt owed to the province. Businesses that don't pay EHT or owe less than their credit will receive a refund.
Just Announced!
Hear how BC Housing plans on creating home for everyone
Greater Victoria is facing crises in housing, overdose deaths and COVID-19, with all posing significant challenges for our region. The pandemic has made it clear that all British Columbians need access to safe and affordable housing.

Over the past year, BC Housing has worked with the City of Victoria, local non-profits, the private sector and Island Health on a coordinated response to shelter more than 500 people experiencing homelessness in Victoria.

Learn about recent initiatives including:

  • BC Housing’s response to COVID-19
  • Shelter to Housing Initiative in Victoria
  • Community benefits of new housing
  • Opportunities for the business community
Tues. May 11, 2021 | 12-1 PM
Submit your questions for Mr. Ramsay by April 26, 2021.
In Partnership with Nanaimo Chamber
2021 Fireside Chat with Honourable Erin O'Toole
Join us for a lunch-time presentation by the Hon. Erin O’Toole speaking about the Opposition’s perspective on the federal government's response to the pandemic, the upcoming federal budget and the future of Canada.

All Island Chamber members can register for free using the promo code: Island Chamber Members

This virtual chat and Q&A will be moderated by Greater Victoria Chamber CEO Bruce Williams.
Sponsored by:
Wed. April 7, 2021 | 12-1 PM
Saanich leads push for 30 km/h limit on side streets
The District of Saanich is hoping to lead the way for Greater Victoria municipalities after council voted unanimously to reduce the speed limit on side streets to 30 km/h. Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes has reached out to other municipalities that had agreed to a previous plan to reduce speeds to 40 km/h. The hope is they will agree to a further reduction and can make a joint request to the provincial government. The default speed for streets in BC is currently 50 km/h.

Proponents note multiple benefits of reducing side streets to 30 km/h. Fewer collisions and better experiences for pedestrians and cyclists would immediately improve the many streets in Saanich without sidewalks.
District of Saanich: Member since 2019
Investments support UVic's transportation plan
Improved infrastructure and more environmentally sustainable buses are being welcomed by the University of Victoria. On Tuesday, the federal and provincial governments announced funding to provide BC Transit with six natural-gas buses that will replace diesel buses currently in the system. As well, UVic is getting an enhanced transit exchange on campus that includes better paths and bike storage to encourage students to cycle to school.

“This project will help us reach our goal of having 70% of all trips to and from campus facilitated by public transit or active transportation," UVic's president and vice-chancellor Kevin Hall says. "These transit improvements complement our Campus Cycling Plan and give our campus community and neighbours greener and healthier commuting choices from their doorstep to school, work and play.”

The new buses will be fueled by compressed or renewable natural gas, and replace buses at the end of their service life.

The federal contribution will be $4.9 million while the province will provide $4.5 million. The Victoria Regional Transit Commission and UVic will chip in $1.9 million.
University of Victoria: Chamber Champion since 2020
University of Victoria: Member since 1976
BC Transit: Member since 1999
Chamber Chats with CEO Bruce Williams
Census Data Crucial for Recovery
Canada conducts a census every five years, and 2021 is one of those years. A census tells us more than simply how many people live in our country, it’s a thorough look at the profile of our population. What has changed and what has stayed the same — crucial data as we chart our COVID Recovery.

Chamber CEO Bruce Williams speaks with Geoff Bowlby, Statistics Canada Director General in charge of the census.
Special thanks to our series sponsor: Island Savings
Chamber Champions adds to roster
The Chamber is happy to announce that we've added two new Chamber Champions to help amplify our advocacy efforts as the voice of business in Greater Victoria.

Mike Geric Construction and Spinnakers have joined our roster of Chamber Champions, which also includes Big Wheel BurgerTELUS BusinessKnappett ProjectsCIBCKinetic ConstructionMNPCHEK, the University of VictoriaSeaspan and RBC.

The Chamber Champions initiative was created last year to add a powerful resource for leadership and guidance to our organization and members. Learn more about how these organizations are championing the work of The Chamber.
Happy Easter from The Chamber! 
This Easter, enjoy takeout from a local restaurant, buy a spring bouquet from a florist, and make an Easter basket filled with delicious treats to celebrate the long weekend. 

Whatever your Easter traditions may be, we hope you have a hoppy day while buying Easter supplies locally and sustainably.

The Chamber will be closed on Good Friday, April 2, and Easter Monday, April 5. 
Chamber Job Board
Hop to The Chamber’s job board this Easter! 

Finding your next great employee shouldn’t be as difficult as an Easter Egg hunt. With the help of The Chamber, your job opening will be featured on our website and in our weekly newsletter BizNews.

Put some spring in your step! Chamber members receive one free 30 day job posting. Enter the code INTRO2021 at checkout. 

If you have any questions or need assistance uploading your job, please email
Member News
Maximum Express celebrates 17 years

Maximum Express Courier, Freight & Logistics is celebrating their 17th anniversary! Maximum Express has been delivering more than packages. Over the years, many community events and non-profits have owed a debt of gratitude for their very generous support. Maximum Express would like to thank the community for their loyalty and support. Congratulations!
Maximum Express Courier, Freight & Logistics: member since 2004
BC Benefit Brew

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. has announced that their Benefit Brew Goes Green campaign will become a permanent initiative to support eco-friendly organizations in BC and Alberta. The campaign involves brewing a unique beer, with full proceeds being provided to the winner’s cause. The 2021 BC Benefit Brew winner is The Mountain Road Forest Campaign, a trust designed to help the CRD acquire new land for parks.  

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.: member since 2020
Capital Regional District (CRD): member since 1993
Building industrial spaces vertically

Wesbild has been featured in The Financial Times for a proposed mixed-use industrial site. 
Marine Landing is designed to address changing economic and geographical concerns, allowing businesses to shift into vertical industrial spaces ranging in units from 600 to 15,000 square feet. As the popularity of e-commerce has expanded throughout the pandemic, Wesbild aims to provide businesses with the industrial space they need to operate. 

Wesbild: member since 2018
One Voice receives co-op award

One Voice Institute of Elemental Ethics and Education Inc. has received Camosun College’s 2020 Co-op and Internship Employer of the Year Award. One Voice received the award due to their commitment to work-integrated learning. They offered several co-op positions in the Summer of 2020. One Voice also participated in Mock Interview Clinics, helping students develop their interviewing skills. 

One Voice Institute of Elemental Ethics and Education Inc: member since 2020
Camosun College: member since 1981
Do you have a success story? We want to hear from you
Moduurn offering assistance to restaurants

To support the local restaurant industry, Moduurn Mobility Inc is offering to help local restaurants implement online ordering solutions with special pricing for BC businesses affected by the new restrictions. Moduurn can setup online ordering in as little as five days.

Modurrn was a finalist in Innovation at the 2020 Greater Victoria Business Awards.

Moduurn Mobility Inc: member since 2019
Smile for a Child Toy Drive

The Victoria Police Department and the Township of Esquimalt have partnered to provide toys and gifts to children in Victoria General Hospital. The Smile For a Child Toy Drive will provide children in the pediatric ward with a new toy to enjoy. 
Victoria Police Department: member since 2008
Township of Esquimalt: member since 2020
Celebrate Easter with a Chamber Champion

Spinnakers Brewpub & Guesthouses has created Mini Egg cheesecakes just in time for Easter. After an online poll determined the demand for a variety of different chocolate, the first batch will have a white chocolate base, with the next batch containing a double chocolate base. Enjoy a holiday treat with Spinnakers, one of our newest Chamber Champions
Spinnakers Brewpub & Guesthouses: member since 1990
Spinnakers Brewpub & Guesthouses: Chamber Champion since 2021
Pedal to the metal

The University of Victoria will have a new set of bike lanes completed before students return this fall. Last year, UVic received a $316,380 grant from the BC Government to help meet CleanBC climate goals. The paths, which include new lighting and intersection improvements, are expected to be used by up to 1,370 cyclists per school day.
University of Victoria: member since 1976
University of Victoria: Chamber Champion since 2020
Outlooks for Men expands

Outlooks for Men will be opening their third location at Uptown on April 2. The new location is designed to provide a convenient place to shop for clients who are working remotely outside the downtown core. Outlooks for Men also offers an online store for people to shop from the comfort of home. 
Outlooks for Men: member since 1999
Shape Property Management – Uptown: member since 1983
Welcome to our newest members!