Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
February 3, 2021
How business associations have helped retailers pivot during the pandemic
In the latest Chamber Chat, we turn the spotlight on community connections that have helped businesses rally to keep customers coming in and shopping online. Campaigns such as #ChamberLocalVicBC, shopping by appointment and free delivery by local BIAs have helped many small businesses survive 2020.
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Combining K9 units makes sense for Saanich and Victoria
In another move that will improve the efficient delivery of protective services in Greater Victoria, the Saanich and Victoria police departments announced they have combined K9 units. The Integrated Canine Service will operate out of VicPD's Esquimalt headquarters and brings together two units that have served their communities for many years. The new unit will use @ics_k9 on Instagram and Twitter.

Joining forces makes sense as the communities are interdependent on each other. Last week, the Victoria fire department announced mutual aid agreements with neighbouring municipalities.
Victoria Police Department: Member since 2008
Connect with Provincial Ministers
Three virtual events this
February and March
The Chamber is hosting three high-profile provincial ministers in the coming weeks. This is your opportunity to ask questions - and get answers.
Thank you to TD Bank Group for sponsoring the following events:
What will economic recovery look like after the pandemic?
As we emerge from the fog of the pandemic, find out how government is refocusing relief efforts to make sure no one is left behind.

Join Chamber CEO Bruce Williams and the Hon. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, to hear about what is being done to ensure an inclusive economic recovery across B.C.
Business Restart Series:
Thurs., Feb. 18 | 12 - 1PM
BC's plans to address homelessness
Since the beginning of the pandemic, affordable housing and homelessness have become some of the most pressing issues facing our region.

Be a part of the discussion as Chamber CEO Bruce Williams talks with Hon. David Eby, BC Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, about the province's 10-year housing plan and actions being taken to house the homeless.
Tues., Feb. 23 | 12 - 1 PM
BC's plan for transportation in the Capital Region
Hear from Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure on what's coming down the road in Greater Victoria including priority infrastructure projects, the South Island Transportation Plan, transit improvements, green transportation initiatives and more. 
Business Restart Series:
Tues., Mar. 2 | 12 - 1 PM
Delays devastating for transportation and tourism
The reality is stark for tourism and transportation businesses, and without immediate help many vital services and experiences will disappear before the pandemic ends. On Monday, Wilson's Transportation announced it cannot afford to resume bus service to Tofino on Feb. 12, as previously planned.

Wilson has asked the province for help ensuring its essential service could continue.

“There is a similar subsidy model in place to ensure public safety along the Highway of Tears in Northern BC,” said John Wilson, President and CEO of Wilson's Group of Companies in a news release. “We know how important our services are to island First Nations and other communities and we also know the devastating effects the loss of a service like ours can have.”

The Times Colonist reports that Transportation Minister Rob Fleming acknowledged, in a statement, that some inter-city bus providers, like other businesses, are struggling. “I recognize how dire the situation is, and am fully committed to working with this sector in the recovery from pandemic-induced financial challenges.”

According to the latest industry statistics from Chemistry Consulting, the number of buses using BC Ferries was down almost 90% in 2020 from 2019. The situation is also dire for accommodation providers who saw revenue per available room drop by almost $85 per night in 2020 compared to the year before.
Wilson's Group of Companies: Member since 2004
Chemistry Consulting Group: Member since 2006
BC Ferry Services: Member since 1983
Provincial program helps businesses get online
On Wednesday afternoon, the province announced the Launch Online Grant program to help small businesses market products on the internet.

“This program will provide business owners with the ability to expand their online presence and create a customized e-commerce site that will give them the boost they need to keep moving forward,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, in a news release.

Businesses must have fewer than 150 employees and generated more than $30,000 in sales in 2019 or 2020. The program is administered by Alacrity Canada.

“We launched an online shop within 48 hours after the lockdown,” David Nicholls, general manager of Vancouver Island Brewing said in the news release. “While we were happy to get it off the ground, we soon realized that the online store could not meet all of our needs and the uniqueness of shipping beer. "

Grants of up to $7,500 are available for online-related expenses, including pictures, creating an online inventory system, advertising costs, subscription costs of an e-commerce platform and training staff to manage the website.
Alacrity Canada: Member since 2019
Vancouver Island Brewing: Member since 1993
Victoria gets $4 million for safer drug pilot project
The opioid crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic, with overdose deaths creating a worsening crisis in our community. A federal/provincial pilot project announced yesterday will help by providing alternatives to the dangerous street drugs at the root of suffering. In Victoria, $4 million has been allotted for a medically validated supply for people with addictions.

"This medication option will provide a life-saving alternative to the contaminated drug supply that is driving our drug poisoning crisis," Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health said in a news release. "The recent increase in overdose deaths in communities within Island Health shows a clear need for better access to a safer drug supply."

This crisis affects all corners of society, and we know safe communities are fundamental for all of us to be able to function well at work and at home.
Island Health: Member since 2020
Should Build Back Victoria continue into summer?
There have been plenty of changes during the pandemic as businesses were forced to find new ways of serving their customers. In the City of Victoria, a temporary program allowed for new uses of public spaces to help businesses. Now the city wants to know what's working, and what should be continued into the spring and summer.

A survey is live asking for feedback on Build Back Victoria, which allowed for new commercial activities such as temporary patios, business in parks and street closures.
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
Thank you to our Chamber Champions!
Learn more about how these organizations are championing the work of The Chamber.
What does local mean to you?
Our #ChamberLocalVicBC campaign aims to help individuals understand what local means on a social, economic, and community level. We're asking our members to answer this question with a quote about what makes their business or organization local.

We hope you will help us amplify these stories as we work with resilience to bounce forward out of this pandemic.

Contact Thomas Zeran to share your story.
Follow this campaign on social media with the hashtags:
#ChamberLocalVicBC #UnderstandLocal
The Chamber has always supported local business. Back to our founding in 1863, we helped Greater Victoria's economy thrive by serving as a unified voice for enterprise.
The Natural Hair Salon: member since 2021
Prince of Whales Whale Watching: member since 2002
Newport Realty: member since 2006
Ride the Glide - RTG E-Bikes Inc: member since 2012
Brown's The Florist: member since 1981
Mayfair Optometric Clinic: member since 1996
CHEK News: member since 1971
Sheringham Distillery: member since 2018
Luxe Home Interiors: member since 2004
Stand out during Chamber Week: Feb. 15 -19, 2021
With Chamber Week quickly approaching, make sure you're putting your best self forward by updating your online directory listing! Through strong SEO practices, thousands of users are viewing The Chamber’s member directory every month. So, we made an easy checklist to ensure your listing is getting the views it deserves.
Online Directory Listing Checklist:
  • Your logo, pictures and YouTube video are all up-to-date
  • All your social media channels are listed
  • Your listing description reflects your brand
  • All relevant keywords are added
It's easy to make changes to your listing - simply login here. To update your logo, photo or video, select the Media Update button listed at the top of the page. To update your listing description, keywords and social media channels, select the Profile Edit button. 

As always, you can email us the changes you would like to see and we can update your listing on your behalf. 
Chamber Week will be Feb. 15 – 19. Find out how we’re celebrating here
Training subsidy and cultural awareness helps employers find and keep workers
An updated wage subsidy program is available for employers to help cover costs of hiring or training staff. The WorkBC Employer Wage Subsidy covers a percentage of employees wages for up to 24 weeks.

WorkBC has opened the program up recently to make it accessible to more people looking for work. The hope is that it can help people get the training needed to take on roles that employers are having a difficult time filling. The Chamber continues to advocate for programs that help employers find and keep workers, and we know that this is an underlying concern for our region's economy.

To find out more about the program, an info session is planned for Feb. 10, starting at noon.

WorkBC is also hosting an info session on cultural awareness on Feb. 8, from 9 to 11 am. Inclusion is another advocacy priority for The Chamber, allowing employers to successfully widen their talent pool and contribute to the community.
WorkBC: Member since 2006
Chamber Job Board

As businesses start rebuilding their team, recruiting the right talent can be a make or break move. If you're looking to court a particular candidate, Agilus has some advice on what candidates want in 2021.

And if you need to hire but the cash flow says otherwise, the federal government has a myriad of programs to help you rehire or expand your workforce.

And of course, post your position on The Chamber’s Job Board connecting great employers needing help with employees in need of work.

Learn more about how to post on the job board here. ​If you have any questions about posting, please email
Member News
TELUS and Omicron property proposal

TELUS and Omicron Canada have submitted a proposal to build one of Nanaimo’s largest rental properties. The $70-million project would provide housing for up to 500 residents, ranging from studio suites to three-bedroom apartments. If approved, the six-story building would take 24 – 30 months to construct. 
TELUS Communications: member since 1962
TELUS Business: Chamber Champion since 2020
Omicron Canada Inc: member since 2015
Bring your own popcorn

The Victoria Film Festival will be returning virtually this year from February 5 – 14. During the 10 day festival, watch 50 feature films and 23 shorts ranging from mysterious thrillers to animated shorts, many of which were filmed and produced in BC. Purchase a festival pass or your individual tickets here.
Victoria Film Festival: member since 2006
Supporting Island kids

The Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island is hosting a 50/50 raffle to support children with chronic and/or complex health needs. Proceeds will go to the Island kids first fund, dedicated to supporting kids across Vancouver Island by providing access to support programs and therapy. Buy your tickets here until Feb. 13.
Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island: member since 2017
Staying warm this winter

Team Sales Vancouver Island has donated 100 coats towards Victoria Cool Aid Society’s 13th annual Coat Drive. With this donation, Team Sales Vancouver Island has provided half of the overall goal for the initiative. With a goal of acquiring 200 coats by the end of the week, Victoria Cool Aid Society is still accepting donations to support those in need this winter.
Team Sales Vancouver Island Ltd: member since 1991
Victoria Cool Aid Society: Member since 2006
Innovations in Island Health

In a recent article in Douglas Magazine, Cory Fry, director of consulting services for CGI, describes how adapting healthcare technology during the pandemic has accelerated innovation within the public sector. From the creation of virtual chat assistants to the implementation of video calls to connect isolated patients with their doctors and families, the article shows how Island Health and government agencies have shifted to provide virtual solutions — and how virtual care will likely become a permanent option.
Douglas Magazine: member since 2004
CGI Information Systems & Management Consultants: member since 2011
Island Health: member since 2020
Tasting Victoria Awards

The finalists for the Tasting Victoria People’s Choice Awards have been announced, highlighting delicious restaurants across Greater Victoria. Voted by Capital Daily readers, finalists included Big Wheel Burger as the region's favourite takeout restaurant, and Bear & Joey as the regions favourite new restaurant. Many Chamber members received awards — see the full list of winners here
Capital Daily: member since 2020
Big Wheel Burger: member since 2020
Big Wheel Burger: Chamber Champion since 2020
Bear & Joey: member since 2021
GVHA board update

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has appointed two new members to their board of directors. Geoff Dickson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Victoria International Airport will be serving on the board until December 2024, while Florence Dick, Songhees Nation representative, will be joining the board until December 2022.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority: member since 2003
Victoria Airport Authority: member since 1981
Songhees Nation: member since 2017
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