Add your voice to tonight's budget town hall
Is tonight circled on your calendar? We hope you'll be able to join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Board Chair Dan Dagg for their presentation at the City of Victoria's Budget Town Hall meeting, which starts at 6:30 pm.
The Chamber has been a vocal advocate for fair taxation, and we will continue to keep an eye on municipal tax rates for business properties. We want Victoria City Council to know that supporting their community starts with encouraging entrepreneurs to invest the time and resources that enrich all of our lives.
The Chamber wants the city to understand that small businesses are essential to the fabric of a healthy and prosperous city. We are proud of where we live and work hard to make our region an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
Practically, this means the City needs to "Mind the Gap" and work hard to keep the gulf between the business and residential tax rate from continuing to widen.
You can check out The Chamber's presentation here.
Follow this link to find out more about the City of Victoria's budget process, including tonight's town hall meeting at City Hall.

Chamber News
Business Leaders Luncheon
Prodigy Group February Mingle
Business Mixer with Destination Greater Victoria
Event Photos

What is The Chamber focusing on?
The Chamber's 2019 Advocacy Priorities will shape our dialogue with business , community leaders, media and government. Throughout 2019 we hope to advance our priorities on behalf of our members.   
1) Attracting & Retaining Workers
a. Affordable and Available Housing 
We need to realize the distinctions between affordable workforce housing and our region's real estate market, and support both.  
b. Adequate Labour Supply 
Our jobless rate of 3.7% is among the lowest in Canada, which means we need to tackle the root of the issue and find new sources of potential employees.
c. Improving Regional Transportation
Having different rules and disconnected strategies for regional traffic doesn't help workers get to their workplace. We need to make the most efficient use of our network of roads and other modes of transportation.
d. Affordable and available child care 
The Chamber will continue calling on all levels of government and post secondary schools to increase training and wages for child care workers to open more spaces, so that parents can be full participants in the workforce.
2) Fair Regulations
Business need fair rules and fair taxes to allow them to succeed, especially when competing with disruptive technologies and in new industries.  
3) Safe Communities
The Chamber recognizes that a safe community is the foundation all of us rely on in order to function in our daily lives and businesses. 
4) Effective Local Governance and Services
Businesses want an end to the frustration caused by wasting time and money on duplicate efforts in order to operate in multiple, adjacent municipalities.  
5) Improving the Regional Economy
The Chamber effectively connects the many private sector, non-profit and government organizations that play a role in Greater Victoria's economy. 
6) Finding Climate Change Solutions  
The Chamber will continue to advocate for sensible solutions, and support public goals to ensure our region's long-term economic prosperity.

In a recent CFAX interview, Chamber CEO Catherine Holt talks more about our 2019 advocacy priorities and property tax increases
BC Ferries has a lot on the go for 2019. Based on consultations in 2018, BC Ferries has released draft concepts for the development of Swartz Bay ferry terminal. For more information on the future of Swartz Bay and on BC Ferries' plans to evolve our coast ferry system in general, come to this lunch!

Wed, Mar 6 | 11:30 am-1 pm  
Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour
728 Humboldt St.

Media celebrate Gordy Dodd for Chamber award    
The Chamber's 2019 Lifetime Achievement winner is no stranger to the press. The local celebrity is famous for his unforgettable television commercials featuring himself parodying film stars, comic book heroes and cultural icons. Dodd, owner of Dodd's Furniture and Mattress, is also well-known to local media for his above-and-beyond philanthropic efforts.
News of Dodd's award was well-received, with media outlets celebrating last week's announcement.
Read more:

Dodd's Furniture & Mattress: member since 2002
Exempt yourself from the speculation tax 
If you have a second home in Greater Victoria, you have a little homework to do if you wish to avoid paying the Speculation Tax (0.5% of the property's assessed value).

A letter should be arriving this week or next asking homeowners to apply for an eligible exemption to the tax. If you don't apply, or don't qualify, tax bills are due to be paid by July 2.

Owners are exempt from the tax if it is their principal residence, they rent it at least six months of the year (only three months is required in 2018), the property was just inherited, it's valued at less than $150,000, or a person was away and it was vacant due to medical reasons, residential care, work or spousal separation. Condos and apartments in buildings where stratas ban rentals are also exempt, but only for 2018 and 2019, to give stratas time to change their bylaws, according to the ministry.

Deadline to submit a claim is March 31. Full details here.
Chamber co-op student wins Future Innovator Challenge
Cyrus Lee, The Chamber's co-op student and third
Cyrus Lee
year University of Victoria business student, and his team won the post secondary category at the Future Innovator Challenge, presented by Island Savings in collaboration with the South Island Prosperity Project. The team won for Lug, a person-to-person shipping app that allows users to crowd-source deliveries - like those made on - from the community, thus enhancing the local marketplace and saving costs.

The Future Innovator Challenge asks post-secondary and high school students to come up with creative solutions for some of Greater Victoria's challenges in categories like transportation, housing, human health, environmental health, and economic resiliency.

Read a Q&A with Cyrus Lee about Lug here.

The staff at The Chamber is really proud of everything Cyrus and his team accomplished. Lug is hoping to reach out to people in the community that would be able to assist in this project going forth. You can reach out to them at

Do you want your own Cyrus? Through the Canada Summer Jobs Program as a business you could be eligible to receive 50% of minimum wage reimbursement and, if you're a not-for-profit, you could receive up to 100% reimbursement. 

University of Victoria: member since 1976

Island Savings: member since 1984

South Island Prosperity Project: member since 2017 member since 2011
Receive Funding to Hire a Summer Student  student
Did you know that you can help cover the cost of hiring a student or youth? There are some new changes to Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program that will benefit you! As an employer, you could be eligible to receive 50% of minimum wage reimbursement, and up to 100% if you're a not-for-profit employer, for hiring a youth between the ages of 15-30.  
Key changes to the CSJ program:
  • All youth, aged 15-30, not just students can be hired
  • To make it easier for businesses or organizations to apply for funding there is now an online application process
  • All approved jobs will be posted on Government Job Bank website
You have until January 25, 2019 to submit your application .
There is a huge number of talented youth from Camosun, Royal Roads, UVic, and School District 61 seeking summer jobs. Co-op is a win-win for both the employer and the employee - trust us, we have seen first-hand the benefits of co-op.
Do you know a business or business person doing great things? If you do, you should nominate them for a business award! And don't forget your team and yourself. You work hard, Nominate yourself or your business.

See the complete list of awards here.

The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, January 23 - only one week away!

Expect old to be new again in Transportation study
We have questions about the plan for a new
Minister Claire Trevana
regional transportation strategy
announced last week by BC's Transportation Minister Claire Trevana.  
Minister Trevena speaks on Jan. 30 at the first Business Leaders Luncheon of 2019. We are optimistic the Minister will provide more information, and we intend to ask her to consider The Chamber's solution to transportation issues in Greater Victoria. Chamber CEO Catherine Holt wrote a column in the Times Colonist suggesting that the answer is to scale up the Greater Victoria Transit Commission. This model works because the commission is appointed by the province to represent the region - not the interests of the municipality each commissioner comes from.
A Greater Victoria Transportation Commission, with appropriate resources, would go a long way to meeting many of the issues expected to come up in the Ministry's report.
For another take on last week's announcement, read Les Leyne's column from the Jan. 15 edition of the Times Colonist.
The world of social media is constantly changing. The Chamber has once again partnered with Social Media Camp to bring our members the 2019 Social Media Series. Book all three seminars and save!

In this seminar, we will review the expected social media trends for 2019, what they mean to you and how to leverage them most effectively.
Thu, Jan 24 | 2-4 pm   
The Chamber, 852 Fort St.
Learn the importance of growing a quality network on LinkedIn, three ways to increase your visibility and stay 'top of mind' without being spammy.   
Thu, Feb 28 | 2-4 pm   
The Chamber, 852 Fort St.

Explore how you can leverage social media to provide a personalized experience for your customers.  
Thu, Mar 28 | 2-4 pm   
The Chamber, 852 Fort St. 
Members Around Town
A new program that intends to make treasure from trash
The Synergy Sustainability Institute is launching a new program that intends to make treasure from trash. Project Zero, billed as a circular economy initiative from Synergy, will establish an incubator program for Vancouver Island entrepreneurs who want to turn waste materials into new products.
Synergy Sustainability Institute: member since 2017     
Dealership goes hi-tech 
Audi opened its brand new dealership earlier this month at 2929 Douglas St., complete with virtual reality devices in the showroom that allow customers to build their dream car, open a door and drive away - all without going outdoors. The GAIN Group invested $25 million to build a 32,000-square-foot building for Audi and a building of about 12,000 square feet for its Alfa Romeo and Maserati dealerships. The Alfa Romeo and Maserati dealership is set to open in March 2019.  
GAIN Group, Vancouver Island: member since 2012
New VP at Seaspan
Seaspan Shipyards appointed Tony Winter as Vice President, Project Delivery. Winter brings considerable experience to the newly created role at Victoria Shipyards where he has served in senior roles since joining in 2011. 
Seaspan ULC: member since 1971
Victoria Shipyards: member since 2002
Welcome to Our Newest Members!  

Chamber Name Tags
In response to members' requests, The Chamber has redesigned the name tags Chamber members can purchase. We increased the prominence of your business while keeping your name clearly visible.

Need to get one of the snazzy new Chamber Name tags? Email us to order yours today.