Chamber Update
April 20, 2020
Chamber encourages Saanich to abide by mandate
A better understanding of the benefits and challenges of merging Saanich and Victoria is exactly the type of information needed to help our region prepare for an economic recovery.

The District of Saanich is holding an important vote tonight on a staff recommendation to quit the Citizens' Assembly process because of financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chamber has identified the need for better regional services as an advocacy priority for 2020. One of the best ways we can directly improve all of our economic opportunities is to ensure that we have efficient, accountable and transparent government.

Therefore, we encourage Saanich's mayor and council to show leadership by working to realize the mandate they were given by voters who were clear in their demand for a Citizens' Assembly process. Saanich and Victoria have spent time and resources to reach an agreement on a terms of reference. It's time to take the next step so that work can continue during this crisis and we can begin the next step as soon as possible.

Tonight's decision has prompted a number of Saanich businesses, including Wilson's Group of Companies and H2 Accelerator, to write council urging the municipality to continue its progress on the citizens' assembly process.

Please add your voice today by emailing
Wilson's Group of Companies: Member since 2004
H2 Accelerator: Member since 2005
District of Saanich: Member since 2019
Urgency needed, but hotel grab not the solution
The vulnerability of homeless people to COVID-19 is an urgent concern, but there are better solutions than a government take-over of hotel rooms.

The City of Victoria passed an emergency motion last week calling on the province to requisition unused hotel and motel rooms in the city. The number of people living outside increased significantly as rules around physical distancing forced shelters to close.

BC Housing and the city have already secured hundreds of rooms from willing accommodation providers who are in need of revenue. Continuing this approach makes sense and doesn't force hotels that have other guests, including health care workers, to put staff into situations they aren't equipped to handle.

“If this was about poverty we could solve it instantly with hotel rooms. Sadly, it’s about mental health issues, and addiction issues, and even physical injury issues,” Our Place Society Director of Communications Grant McKenzie told CHEK News.

BC Housing is continuing to negotiate with hotels and motels, and is in the process of setting up an emergency response centre.
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
Our Place Society: Member since 2010
Commercial tenants need rent relief, not more debt
Last Thursday, the provincial government introduced new measures that, added to assistance announced earlier, will reduce the total property tax rate for commercial properties by an average of 25%.

The province has also given businesses a break on school taxes, in addition to assistance announced a few weeks ago, resulting in an average 25-per-cent reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses without reducing the amount that goes to municipalities.

That provincial announcement followed the federal government unveiling of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. It provides loans to commercial property owners if they forgo the rent for small businesses tenants for April (retroactive), May and June. Details of the plan, which requires working with the province, will be announced soon.

However, help is urgently needed now by many businesses that can't afford to acquire more debt or defer payments until a later date. Businesses that are generating zero revenue, including many that service the tourism industry, have been particularly hard hit in Greater Victoria. Read this appeal by Dan Dagg, president of H2 Accelerator, for a very good explanation of the dire situation businesses are facing.

The Chamber has added our voice to the many organizations calling for grants rather than loans to help businesses that have been forced into hibernation by public health regulations. In order to return to a thriving economy, we need businesses to survive this shutdown and be able to participate in the eventual recovery.
H2 Accelerator: Member since 2005
Task force formed to help guide economic recovery
Chamber CEO Catherine Holt has joined the Rising Economy Task force to help Greater Victoria businesses begin the road to recovery.

The task force is an initiative of the South Island Prosperity Partnership and will provide guidance to a regional strategy. Some of the methods include assessing the impact on business, looking into the value of a Business Recovery Centre and measuring key economic assets and emerging opportunities.

South Island Prosperity Partnership: Member since 2017
Stay connected with The Chamber's virtual events
Creating a Strategy for Success post COVID-19
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Dan Dagg, President of H2 Accelerator, as they discuss why now is the right time for businesses to create a strategic marketing plan and how it can help sustain business operations and services in the months and weeks ahead.

About the Series:

The Chamber is bringing you free virtual events to inform and provide guidance on key topics related to the current COVID-19 crisis and its effects on business. This is your opportunity to get answers on pressing issues, and information to help you in these uncertain times.
Submit your questions for our Fireside Chat before noon on Tues. April 21 to
Please check our Events Calendar for other events and updates on tools and suggestions to get through to the other side.
COVID-19 Mental Health Webinar
Hear from Dr. Bill Howatt, one of Canada's leading mental health experts, on actions that help you take charge of your stress and anxiety and support others in your organization or business.
Wed., April 22 | 9-10 AM
Virtual Member
Networking Breakfast
Join us at our next Virtual Member Networking Breakfast event. You are invited to connect with other members working to develop business relationships during these extraordinary times.
Thurs., April 23 | 9-10 AM
YYJ Eats postponed until 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the directive from BC’s Public Health Officer on restrictions for events, The Chamber has made the decision to postpone YYJ Eats until 2021.

We look forward to seeing you next year when we can celebrate Victoria’s finest food and beverage businesses once again. In the meantime, please continue to show your support for businesses by enjoying the take-out and delivery services that continue to operate.

Visit our Chamber Member Service Updates page to see updated hours and services of local restaurants and businesses.
Chamber Job Board offers 187 opportunities
Our expanded Job Board has 187 postings looking for peopl e to support essential services in our community.

When we heard from members in need of staff to provide essential services, we repurposed our job board to connect with people in our region looking for employment. We’re working hard to bring people together — after all connections are what we do best.

At this time, employers are able to post at no charge by using the code SUPPORTYYJ.

If you have any difficulty posting, email us and we will get back to you by next business day. All jobs posted to our job board have been vetted by a member of The Chamber team.
Let us know about updates to your hours or services
We've created a webpage to help your customers keep track of updated hours and services as a result of COVID-19. If your changes are not yet listed, email to have your information added.