February 1, 2023
Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria!
Members of The Chamber and the Emerge Committee enjoyed connecting recently at The Union Club of BC (see photos here). Make sure to register early for our upcoming events as many sell out quickly! See below for more info.
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BC takes small step to address toxic drug crisis
A health emergency that affects all segments of society resulted in 2,300 deaths in BC last year. As a response, the province formally announced that people will no longer face criminal charges for possessing a cumulative total of as much as 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA for personal use. The substances are still illegal but police are no longer arresting drug users or seizing their supply. Instead, they will provide information on available social supports, health care and treatment options.

“By supporting British Columbia in this exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, (the federal) government is providing the Province with the ability to help divert people away from the criminal justice system and toward the health and social services they need," federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett said.

Addiction and toxic drug deaths cause immeasurable damage to families and communities, and add huge costs to society. However, The Chamber is calling on the federal and provincial governments to do more to ensure treatment options are readily available.

"We know that programs like Our Place Society's New Roads has a proven track record of helping people recover from addiction," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The therapeutic-community based model has some of the best outcomes of any treatment in the world. However, it needs support from government to ensure it can remain operational and increase intake. We have an opportunity to do more, and eventually recreate the success of New Roads at facilities across the province."
Our Place Society: Member since 2010
VicPD and Island Health launch Co-Response Team
Another tool for emergency service providers will help people feel safer downtown.

The Victoria Police Department and Island Health are working together to create a new team to help people in distress. The Co-Response Team will consist of a mental health professional and a police officer who will be available from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week.

“These services provide rapid interventions, connect people with services and aim to reduce a person’s involvement with emergency health services, the criminal justice system and law enforcement,” Island Health Board Chair Leah Hollins said.

The Chamber is a vocal advocate for safe communities, and we support efforts to address the root cause of these issues — mental health and addiction — that make people feel unsafe.
Island Health: Member since 2020
Victoria Police Department: Member since 2008
Discussion: Getting rail back on track on the Island
Join The Chamber for a discussion with the Vancouver Island Transportation Corridor Coalition and Island Corridor Foundation on the work done towards identifying the need for, and public interest in, reinstating Island Rail Service.
"The provincial government is quickly approaching a critical decision point and must provide an answer on the future of the Island corridor by March 14," said coalition representative Paul Robinson, noting that reinstating Island rail service could help the Island's tourism economy and get more vehicles off the roads. "VITCC believes that rail is, by far, the most equitable mode of ground-based transportation as there are no age, health, ability, income impediments, and no requirements for vehicle operator ownership, licensing, and associated expenses."

The Chamber will be leading the discussion on rail as part of our role in The Island Chamber Advocacy Alliance, connecting business across the Island.
This free, virtual event is open to members of Chambers across Vancouver Island.
Island Corridor Foundation: Member since 2020
Progress made on Te’mexw treaties negotiations
Sooke Mountain and Discovery Island Marine provincial parks could be included in treaties with the T’Sou-ke Nation and with the Songhees Nation, the province announced Monday.

"Treaties help everyone in BC by providing better clarity for First Nations and surrounding communities and will result in better social and economic opportunities for all communities in southern Vancouver Island,” BC's Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin said.

The move is part of ongoing negotiations with the Te’mexw Treaty Association, consisting of the T'Sou-ke and Songhees, as well as the Malahat Nation, and the Beecher Bay (SC’IA⁄NEW) and Snaw-Naw-As nations.

Sooke Mountain Park is being considered as part of the T’Sou-ke Treaty, while Discovery Island Park is being considered as part of the Songhees Treaty.

To learn more about how the Te’mexw treaties will create jobs, promote investment and economic development, build housing, support tourism and encourage investments in infrastructure, in-person open houses are planned for:
  • Feb. 25, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Songhees Wellness Centre
  • March 2, 4:30-7 p.m., Edward Milne Community school
  • March 4, 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., the Quarterdeck, Royal Roads University
  • March 7, 4:30-7 p.m., George Jay Elementary School
  • March 15, 4:30-7 p.m., Metchosin Community Hall
Songhees Nation: Member since 2017
T'Sou-ke Nation: Member since 2021
Malahat Nation: Member since 2019
GDP numbers show economic growth slowing
Canada's economy continued to grow in November, although at an almost negligible rate of 0.1%, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada.

Many economists are calling for a brief recession this year as higher borrowing costs are starting to impact consumer spending and business investment. The Bank of Canada said that it expects inflation, currently about 6.3%, to return to its target rate of 2% later in 2023. That will enable the bank to lower interest rates and stimulate the economy with less risk of overheating.

"Greater Victoria has traditionally fared better than many regions during recessions due to our large public sector." Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Those workers are very important customers to many local businesses. They've created a synergy over many decades that can't take be taken granted. We need decision makers in government to understand how important it is to keep workers in Greater Victoria for the stability of BC's capital city."
Attracting, Developing & Engaging Talent: The Changing Workforce
Join The Chamber and Royal Roads University on February 16th for a panel discussion on responding to changing workforce realities.

In this session, we will explore trends and developments that are shaping today’s workforce and how businesses can more effectively attract, develop, and engage talent.

Key areas of discussion will include: 
• Changing attitudes and expectations of today’s workforce 
• Attracting and retaining the next generation 
• Developing and upskilling staff – supporting ongoing learning and development 
• Engaging those who are in their ‘post-career’ or ‘second career’ stage
Make sure to register even if you are unable to attend. Everyone registered will receive the recording.
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March Emerge Connector
You're invited to the first ever Emerge Connector. Make authentic connections and have a great time, all in one inclusive, casual and fun event. Come for the connections and stay for the game. Cheer on your Victoria Royals as they battle against the Prince George Cougars in one of their last games of the season.

Casual networking in the Molson Fan Deck Club Lounge will take place before the game from 5-7pm. Complimentary premium club game tickets will be provided to the first 75 Emerge Connector guests, with additional tickets available at a discounted rate of $20 for family and friends to join you for the game.

Snacks and a cash bar will be available during the Connector and if you want a bit more of a meal consider grabbing a buffet ticket or two.
March Business Mixer
Join us for cocktails and community. This vibrant, after-hours business social event provides an excellent opportunity for members and future members to meet face-to-face, establishing or renewing valuable business relationships. Join us for an evening of hors d'oeuvres and refreshments at our March Business Mixer hosted by Amica Senior Lifestyles (Amica Jubilee House)
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February is Black History Month
February marks Black History Month, and The Chamber strongly encourages everyone to learn more about the stories, struggles and accomplishments of Black Canadians.

Since the first Black pioneers arrived, Greater Victoria has benefited from countless Black entrepreneurs who've immigrated to Vancouver Island from the Canadian mainland, Africa, the Caribbean, and the rest of the world.

Through their perseverance, creativity, and ambition, the Black community continues to play an important role in the business community of Greater Victoria. Individuals, such as Emma Stark, have achieved great things in their time.
Emma Stark [1875]. Image 989024010 Courtesy of Salt Spring Archives
Emma Stark [1875]. Image 989024010
Courtesy of Salt Spring Archives
Emma Stark and her family arrived in Greater Victoria from the United States during the Cariboo Gold Rush. The family lived on Salt Spring Island before moving to Nanaimo. Emma would briefly return to Salt Spring Island before settling in Nanaimo to live with her father and receive an education.

Eventually, Emma would pass on her knowledge and experiences to future generations. She became a school teacher and was hired in 1874 to teach at Cranberry-Cedar school.

As the first Black teacher on Vancouver Island, Emma Stark led the way for future trades and business people. She was a trailblazer and an inspiration for Black women looking to enter the teaching profession.
Chamber Chats with CEO Bruce Williams
Sustainable benefits of local seaweed
Canada is joining other countries in exploring ways of diversifying our food supply and cleaning up our oceans through the production of aquaculture related to seaweed. Cascadia Seaweed, based in Sidney, is already a leader in this sector.

In this Chamber Chat, CEO Bruce Williams speaks with Cascadia’s founders Bill Collins and Mike Williamson.
Cascadia Seaweed: Member Since: 2021
Special thanks to our series sponsor: Island Savings
Work with a Chamber Champion!
When you’re searching for your next employer, look no further than a Chamber Champion!

Featured on The Chamber’s job board, Chamber Champions are offering great career opportunities for talented individuals across Greater Victoria.

From Carpenter at Knappett Projects to a Human Resources Manager at Berwick Retirement Communities, Chamber Champions are ready to offer you your next great career move

Visit The Chamber’s job board and find new opportunities today with our champions and other great members.

If you have any questions about The Chamber’s job board, please contact [email protected].
Member News
Victoria recognized for maximizing sustainability

The City of Victoria has been featured in Travel + Leisure as one of the best places to visit in 2023!
Victoria was acknowledged for the municipality’s focus on sustainability, specifically the goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral by 2025 and the elimination of landfill waste by 2040. Big Wheel Burger received praise in the article for being the first carbon-neutral fast food restaurant in Canada, and the Inn at Laurel Point and The Parkside Hotel & Spa were both featured as great carbon-neutral hotels to visit.
Big Wheel Burger: Member since 2020
Big Wheel Burger: Chamber Champion since 2020
The Parkside Hotel & Spa: Member since 2013
Inn at Laurel Point: Member since 1991
City of Victoria: Member since 1863
Ticket Access Program running for second consecutive year

Pacific Opera Victoria is giving away 1,000 free tickets to local community organizations. More than 40 organizations can access tickets though the Pacific Opera Ticket Access Program, specifically helping those experiencing barriers of entry to experience live performances.
Pacific Opera Victoria: Member since 2007
Do you have a success story? We want to hear from you
UVic approved for $10/day childcare

All child care centres at the University of Victoria have been approved to become $10 a day ChildCareBC Centres. Families will see their monthly fees reduced to $200 or less, allowing students, faculty, and staff to access affordable childcare.
University of Victoria: Member since 1976
University of Victoria: Chamber Champion since 2020
Saanich adds furry friend to the force

The District of Saanich has a new police recruit. Beacon the black lab will serve the municipality as an Operational Stress Intervention dog, comforting victims of crime and reducing anxiety in staff members. Beacon is the first operational stress dog on Vancouver Island, and is one of only seven in Canada.

District of Saanich: Member since 2019
ICA welcomes new CEO

The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) is welcoming their new CEO. Shelly D’Mello is joining ICA with more than 25 years of experience in private, government, and non-profit organizations. D’Mello has a degree in Economics from York University, an international MBA from England, is a member of HRPAO (Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario) and holds a Certificate in Adult Training and Development from the University of Toronto.
Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA): Member since 1996
Threshold Housing Society announces new director
Threshold Housing Society is welcoming their next director to the team. Angela McNulty-Buell has been named the Director of Housing and Support Services and will work towards increased housing support for at-risk youth in our community. McNulty-Buell enters the role with two decades of work in youth support, housing creation, and support services.
Threshold Housing Society: Member since 2010
Member to Member Discounts
Members can post Coupons and Discounts free of charge here.
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