Starr McMichael of Destination Greater Victoria, Minister Mélanie Joly, with Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Chair Dan Dagg.
At the Business Leaders Luncheon, sponsored by Destination Greater Victoria, federal Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Melanie Joly offered a sneak peek of plans for a national tourism strategy, set to be officially unveiled next week. Read more about the event here or see photos here.
Isitt: popular or populist?
In another in long string of populist political moves, Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt is expected to place emotion ahead of reason once again and bring forward a motion to Victoria Council to phase out horse-drawn carriages in favour of electronic carriages.

The Chamber supports the highest standards for animal welfare, which is why we hope council will acknowledge the exceptional care provided to horses by a business that has served visitors to our city for more than 100 years.

The SPCA has done extensive work to confirm the health of the animals in Victoria and is not calling for a ban. In fact, they say a lot more homework is needed before council should consider motions such as Isitt's.

Donna Friedlander, owner and operator of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, told the Times Colonist that she thinks Isitt's motion is based on his "own personal ideologies and is not based on facts or knowledge."

"This motion misses the whole premise of a horse-drawn carriage experience. Our services are about providing the public an opportunity to interact with and learn about our amazing horses, slow down and experience life at an easy pace, and remember our historical roots," Friedlander said.

Tally-Ho Carriage Tours: member since 1980
Serving Victoria since 1903

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Tourism Minister in town for Chamber lunch, announces funding for women leaderstourism
After speaking at The Chamber's Business Leaders Luncheon on Monday, federal Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Melanie Joly, announced an investment in women-led companies, including Abeego.
"We profoundly think that by doubling the amount of female-led companies that we will be able to double the economy by 2025," Joly said about the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, which awards up to $100,000 to support expansion into global markets.
Abeego produces the original beeswax food wrap. The company was founded in 2008 by Toni Desrosiers, who is a finalist for The Chamber's Business Person of the Year. The winners will be announced tomorrow at the Greater Victoria Business Awards gala.
At Monday's luncheon, sponsored by Destination Greater Victoria, Joly offered a sneak peek of plans for a national tourism strategy, set to be officially unveiled next week.
Joly told the room she is working to "change the culture" in Ottawa to help federal decision-makers better understand the value of tourism as a legitimate economic driver. She pointed to the need for major air, rail and bus companies to think of themselves as tourism businesses rather than as only transportation services.
Tourism represents more than two per cent of Canada's gross domestic product, and supports 1.8 million jobs across the country. In 2018, a record 21.1 million international tourists visited Canada.
The packed ballroom at the Union Club of BC heard that BC leads the country in tourism growth, and that, worldwide, there are about one billion more people travelling today than 20 years ago.
Europeans are especially interested in experiencing First Nations culture, and Canadian indigenous tourism has grown by 17 per cent a year, much faster than the five per cent growth rate for the industry overall.
"I was happy that Minister Joly was aware of the issues our employers are having attracting and retaining workers, particularly in the hospitality industry," says Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "Tourism employs 23,000 people in our region and should be supported in the same way we support the tech and natural resource industries."
Minister Joly noted that one way the federal government is working to help ease the crunch of the labour shortage is to make it more financially feasible for seniors by allowing them to continue working without clawing back as much of their pension income.  
Abeego: member since 2014   
Destination Greater Victoria: member since 1988
The 2019 Greater Victoria Business Awards are tomorrow, May 16! See the finalists here. If you didn't get tickets to this sold out event, you can follow along on The Chamber's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
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Final chance to take the Chamber's Membership Matters Survey!   
Love what we're doing on advocacy? See an issue that needs to be addressed? 

What's important to your business, let us know and you could w in round-trip flights to Vancouver for two from Helijet or two tickets to YYJ Eats by completing The Chamber's Membership Matters Survey !
Municipalities must continue to 'mind the gap' on business taxes
Today is the deadline for all BC municipalities to adopt their financial plans and submit their audited financial statements to the province.
In Greater Victoria, The Chamber has called on all 13 municipalities to continue to   mind the gap between residential and business property tax rates. This means that councils must consider both the multiplier they apply to business property tax rates and the percentage of the total municipal budget that comes from business property tax.

"I'm relieved that many municipalities have at least acknowledged that pressures to raise revenue has resulted in the tax burden creeping more and more onto the backs of business," says Catherine Holt, CEO of The Chamber. "Business continues to pay much higher tax for the same service that residents get. We need to keep working with municipalities so they remember to 'mind the gap' on property taxes and instead support initiatives that increase revenue by attracting businesses and encouraging investment and growth in their communities."
Earlier this year, Esquimalt council earned kudos from The Chamber for freezing the municipality's business tax rate to send a message that the municipality is "open for business."
Saanich, however, has some rebalancing to do. Business pays 23% of the budget from 6.7% of the land value. Residents pay 76% of the budget from 93.3% of the land value. In comparison, business in Victoria pays 47% of the budget from 20.4% of the land value. Not perfect but much more balanced.
A 2018 report found that Saanich ranked 20th out of the 20 largest BC municipalities in terms of tax fairness ratio, while Victoria ranked ninth.

One of the many complicating factors is that, in many cities, the value of business properties increased more than residential property values in 2018. There are many reasons for this, including the controversial method used by BC Assessment of determining " highest and best use."
We encourage Greater Victoria municipalities to look to Vancouver Council, which has shown great leadership by actively choosing to shift 2% of the property tax burden to residential properties in order to protect vulnerable businesses.
The Chamber encourages all Greater Victoria councils to be aware of the burden they are placing on businesses through property taxes, and ensure they don't create hardships that drive away investment in their community.

Members Around Town

Missing: Swan Lake's Honey Bee Swarm     
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is asking for the public's help in locating its honeybee swarm which is thought to have swarmed early Monday. A honeybee colony will swarm, or gather in a large cluster and move, if the hive gets too crowded. They will create a new queen, take half the colony and move on to a new location.
The Sanctuary says swarms usually occur from April to August and are generally peaceful if left alone. They can be found in trees, on houses, cars or on the ground. Please contact Swan Lake's Beekeeper at 778-977-3134 if you locate the swarm. 
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary: member since 2014   
TC book sale
The 22nd annual Times Colonist Book Sale over the weekend brought in $189,405 - the second-highest total since it moved to the Victoria Curling Club 10 years ago. Going into this year's sale, the Times Colonist's event had generated more than $5 million since it began in 1998. The money goes to literacy-related programs on Vancouver Island. 
Times Colonist: member since 1961    
Vital signs 
The Victoria Foundation is asking Capital Region residents to weigh in with their opinions on 12 areas critical to our community. The 2019 Victoria's Vital Signs Survey asks respondents to identify the most important issues facing the region.  Their responses help non-profit organizations, civic leaders and individual and business donors make decisions about grants, policy-making and charitable giving
Victoria Foundation: member since 2004  
Chard Development 
In early May, marking the company's 25th anniversary, Chard Development announced that David Chard will assume the role of Executive Director & Founder and Byron Chard has taken on the position of President & CEO. Formerly Chard's Chief Financial Officer, Byron will assume full responsibility for the day-to-day operation and management of Chard Development. Under David's 25 years of leadership, Chard Development has grown from a full-service development consulting practice into a merchant developer with over 1.3 million square feet of residential and commercial development completed.
Chard Development: member since 2008   
YYJ Eats   
Some things get better with age. Join us in our fifth year and 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:  
Come work at The Chamber!
The Chamber is seeking a Marketing & Membership Assistant and a Front Desk & Office Administrator. If you're a people person who enjoys a fun and dynamic environment with a close-knit team, we invite you to join us.

With 1,400 members, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce works with local business to build good business and great community. We do so through fun events, facilitating connections and advocating on behalf of our members.

Make a difference in your community as a part of our team.
SIPP moves to Plan B for transportation projects
The South Island Prosperity Partnership came up short in its bid to win the $10 million Smart Cities Challenge. As the announcement was being made yesterday, a crowd of regional leaders watched a live feed and waited with bated breath at the Songhees Wellness Centre.
The news wasn't what they wanted to hear, though it will allow SIPP to turn its focus to finding new sources of funding to follow through on its proposal to improve transportation in Greater Victoria.
Guelph, Ont., and Bridgewater, NS, were selected for the federal government initiative, which provides cash to help communities use data and technology to improve life for their citizens.
Greater Victoria had been one of 10 communities shortlisted out of more than 100 that applied for the $10 million funding. Making the shortlist came with $250,000 in federal money, which was used to develop a proposal that could compete for the larger pool of cash.
South Island Prosperity Partnership: member since 2018  
Greater Victoria records lowest unemployment rate in Canada for April
The latest numbers from Statistics Canada confirm what we all know - it's tough out there for employers in Greater Victoria. In April, our region had the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

In our region, more than 197,100 people were employed in April 2019, up from 196,300 in March.
The tight labour market has made attracting and retaining workers the biggest challenge facing almost every employer in Greater Victoria. The Chamber continues to advocate for solutions to housing and transportation in order to expand the available workforce.
On the bright side, the addition of 106,500 mostly full-time jobs across Canada is being seen as an indicator that the national economy is building positive momentum after a winter slowdown.
Accelerate your export plan

Are you exporting currently or looking to do so soon? The Chamber wants to help you succeed.

Partnering with the World Trade Organization, this course led by export experts will result in a road map for success. Participating organizations experienced an average international sales growth of 70% within one year of completing the program. Click here to watch a video about how TAP can help your business.

Full bursaries available for a limited time for qualifying companies. 
Value $5,000. Deadline for registration is May 25.

Click here for more details.
Get outside for the May Long, Queen Victoria commands!
Happy Birthday Queen Victoria - you barely look a day over 200! This May long-weekend is forecast to be a mixed-bag of Spring weather, so pack a jacket and enjoy our region's lovely beaches, parks and attractions! 
To add excitement, visit Adrena LINE or Wildplay Element Parks for some treetop exhilaration. For sea-level thrills, try whale watching, kayaking or stick to land with a day hike or a bike ride
The possibilities for outdoor fun are endless, just make sure to wear sunscreen! 
A nd don't forget to check out the Victoria Day Parade on Monday!
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