A small group of Greater Victoria business leaders met yesterday with Joyce Murray, the President of Canada's Treasury Board, who is also Minister of Digital Government. Read more here
Sunday deadline for feedback on Employment Standards Act changes
Businesses will face more expenses if the provincial government carries out proposed changes to sick leave and statutory holiday pay laws.
 
Chambers across BC are asking the government to reconsider its plans for updating the Employment Standards Act. We have been steadfastly advocating against some of the most dramatic proposals, such as increasing sick leave to 10 paid days a year. Currently employers are not obligated to pay any sick days.  
 
As a business that will be directly affected by these changes, your voice needs to be heard. To help you provide feedback, we've included a template letter from the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce you can sign and email to the Ministry of Labour to oppose changes to the Act.
 
Download the letter, insert your name, title and the name of your business, and email the text of the letter to ESAReview@gov.bc.ca with a CC to communications@victoriachamber.ca by this Sunday, March 31, 2019.
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City of Victoria Business News 
Victoria commits $1.8 million for affordable housing
The City of Victoria is earmarking $1.835 million for two affordable housing projects.

"We've heard from residents and businesses that affordable housing is desperately needed," Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a news release. "This contribution, which leverages significantly higher investment from other levels of government, will create new affordable housing in two Victoria neighbourhoods."

The proposals call for a total of 138 homes for families, working adults, seniors and people with disabilities.

The money will help the Capital Region Housing Corporation and the Greater Victoria Housing Society with projects in James Bay and the Quadra Village area.

Small Business Info Session
The Victoria Small Business Info Session takes place April 9, from 9 am to noon at Victoria City Hall. The morning will feature an introduction to services available through the city and community partners. For more information or to register, click here.

Four-year Strategic Plan and Budget
The City of Victoria's four-year Strategic Plan and Budget can be viewed here. City Council says the plan focuses on quality of life, though The Chamber would like to see the city work to grow the business sector by reducing property taxes and harmonizing regulations with other municipalities rather than hiring 34 more staff. Click here to see The Chamber's budget presentation to the city.

Province funds child care planning
The provincial government will provide Victoria with $23,300 to undertake a child care needs assessment and long-term plan to boost much needed child-care spaces for working parents. The money comes from a partnership between the Union of BC Municipalities and the provincial government's Community Child Care program.


City of Victoria: member since 1962

Greater Victoria Housing Society: member since 2012
Annual General Meeting & Mayoral Address
Residents of the City of Victoria and District of Saanich gave an enthusiastic yes when 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?"

The Chamber is looking forward to a Citizen's Assembly examining the benefits for business resulting from amalgamation.

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


Women leaders are no longer noteworthy - and that's equality
Message from Chamber CEO Catherine Holt   
This article originally appeared in the Times Colonist March 24.
 
An event I was at shortly after International Women's Day was exciting because of what did not happen. I have been waiting for this particular thing to not happen my whole adult life.
 
It was a very well organized and well attended reception hosted by Pearson College for senior representatives of United World Colleges International, in town for their biannual meeting.
 
The leaders giving speeches included Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, who is a UWC alumnus; Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin; and Pearson College president Desiree McGraw. Other leaders were acknowledged, including Pearson College chair and former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean.
 
You'll notice that all of those leaders are women. That's not what I found remarkable.

Read Catherine's column or listen to an interview with her on CFAX  .   
 
Pearson College: member since 2017

Kudos to Esquimalt for freezing business tax

Esquimalt council stood up for business last week by choosing to freeze the municipality's business property tax rate. Esquimalt mayor Barb Desjardins  told Black Press that council understands 2019 will be a difficult year for businesses facing the new provincial Employers Health Tax.
 
"This is the year of the double-whammy of the health tax on employers," Desjardins told Victoria News. "That, for a business, is a huge challenge ... the only way they can make that up is by reducing their staff, or increasing their budget."
 
Esquimalt Coun. Ken Armour put forward the motion in an effort to help send a message that the municipality is open for business. Esquimalt's business property taxes will be 3.03 times the residential rates. That's down from 3.2 times the residential rate last year. Armour says he would like to see the multiple paid by businesses gradually reduced to two times the rate paid by residents. If that happened, it would be the lowest differential among all 13 municipalities.  
 
The Chamber continues to advocate for business and residential tax rates to be as close to each other as possible so everyone pays the same amount for the same service. 
BUSINESS LEADERS LUNCHEON
 
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 compared to previous numbers as against other cities in the world.  
Sponsored by: 
Thu, Apr 18 | 11:30 am-1 pm          
Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour
728 Humboldt St.

   


Clearing up confusion over West Shore ferry costs
 
Last week, we reported on BC Ferries' West Shore Ferry Pre-Feasibility Study which looks into the feasibility of ferry service from Royal Bay to Esquimalt and Ship Point. However, we used an incorrect figure as the proposed cost for this service. BC Ferries says the capital cost for two terminals and two ferries operating every 40 minutes would be $52.8 million, with an operating cost of about $5 million.

We apologize for any confusion. To be clear, The Chamber continues to advocate for efficient and convenient transportation alternatives for Greater Victoria residents. By moving away from single-occupancy vehicles, we can reduce congestion and travel times for commuters and help our region's employers better attract and retain the workforce we require.

We need to invest in ongoing improvements to our regional transit system.

A cost-effective commuter ferry to the West Shore funded by BC Ferries would be a welcome transportation alternative for our region.  
 
Read more:
 
BC Ferries: member since 1983  

Members Around Town

Canadian Tire's unusual emergency snow equipment  
Justin Young, Associate Dealer and Store Owner of Canadian Tire Hillside moved here from Ontario in 2016. His goal for his store is to be a better option than online shopping so he prides himself on having whatever his customers need in the moment. That often depends on the season and the weather: bedding plants in spring; camping equipment in the summer; rakes in the fall. So when Victoria had a big snowfall in February, he knew people would be looking for snow-related items and, coming from Ontario, he was pretty confident he knew what those would be. But he was astonished at the item that was the No. 1 seller. Can you guess? If you think it was snow shovels, salt, snow tires or windshield scrapers you would be wrong.  The answer is pure Victoria: bird seed.
Canadian Tire Hillside: member since 2018  
Chamber members among first legal cannabis stores in Victoria to get provincial approval
Five months after cannabis was legalized in Canada, the BC government has approved the first round of legal recreational dispensaries in Victoria. Two of them are Chamber members The Original FARM Downtown and The Original FARM Hillside . The Original FARM Downtown has received provincial and municipal approvals and is weeks away from reopening. However, The Original FARM Hillside has received provincial approval, but the City of Victoria has sent their municipal application back to Public Hearing to again engage with the community. Prior to voluntarily closing on Oct. 17, 2018, the Original FARM Hillside had a City of Victoria municipal license and operated without incident for 3.5 years.  
Original FARM Downtown: member since 2018 
Original FARM Hillside: member since 2018 
More people are hauling themselves to Greater Victoria
According to Canadian Growth Cities for 2018 prepared by U-Haul, Greater Victoria finished second behind Kingston, ON. U-Haul calculates the ranking by subtracting the number of one-way U-Haul trucks leaving a municipality from the number of trucks entering said destination, drawing on data generated by the travels of more than two million one-way U-Haul trucks travelling across the US and Canada.
U-Haul Company of Canada: member since 2016  
Clipper Vista class 
The Victoria Clipper has launched Vista Class, a new class of service between Economy and Comfort Classes on its Victoria Clipper V vessel. Vista Class features leather seats on the upper deck, legroom for window seats, panoramic views and easy access to the outdoor viewing deck. Since launching the Victoria Clipper V last year, Victoria Clipper has eliminated 232 sailings without sacrificing capacity - an environmental step forward for reducing traffic in the Salish Sea. 
Victoria Clipper: member since 2014  
YYJ Eats   
Experience an exciting variety of gourmet food samples, local wine, craft beers and specialty cocktails created and presented by s ome of Victoria's most   popular  restaurants, breweries, wineries, cideries & spirit makers .
 
Tues, Jun 4 | 5-7 pm
St. Ann's Academy Historical Site
835 Humboldt St.
Sponsored by:  
Chamber hosts roundtable with Treasury Board Presidentjoyce 
 
A small group of Greater Victoria business leaders and Chamber board members met yesterday, Mar. 26 with Joyce Murray, the President of Canada's Treasury Board, who is also Minister of Digital Government.
 
"I'm here because we introduced a budget last week," Murray said, explaining that government's goal is to stimulate the economy, create jobs and provide equal opportunities for more Canadians.
 
Asked about updating the vigourous stress test on mortgages, Murray said it will remain in place to protect Canadians at risk of overextending on real estate purchases.
 
She said the federal government is getting back into affordable housing through its National Housing Strategy to help Canadians most vulnerable to homelessness.
 
Murray answered questions about public-sector hiring policies, recognizing foreign certification, the Canada Summer Jobs Program and why government believes prioritizing debt to GDP and signing free-trade deals is the best way to encourage investment.
 
Business leaders also took the opportunity to share innovative ideas that could help improve the nationwide shortage of skilled labour, as well as success stories related to investment in research.
 
For more information about our upcoming events g o to victoriachamber.ca.   
Business Matters Advertising Opportunities

The Chamber offices are bustling as we  begin planning and writing our Spring Business Matters magazine. With profiles of business leaders, outstanding business connections and this year's Business Award winners, it's a high demand magazine.  
 
Want your brand in front of more than 2,000 business leaders in Greater Victoria? Don't be left out. This is the last week to contact us   for advertising opportunities and receive 20% off your advertising.
Welcome to Our Newest Members!
 

Tom Wood Contracting 


 

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 name while keeping your name clearly visible.

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