Attend the Business Leaders Luncheon: Mark Collins, CEO of BC Ferries, sponsored by  Point Hope Maritime, to learn about plans to create a local commuter service between downtown Victoria and the Westshore. A 10% discount is available if you also attend our AGM and Mayoral Address.
BC-wide text alert system  
The BC government tested its new emergency alert system today, March 21 at 1:55 pm on televisions and radios. They will be testing the wireless smartphone alert May 9 at 1:55 pm.

The need for a unified provincial alert system became apparent on Jan. 23, after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska. Sign-ups for the City of Victoria's Vic-Alert program soared the day after the tsunami warnings were issued, with the number of subscribers rising from 6,800 to 60,000. 

Advertising opportunities
The Chamber offices are bustling as we begin
planning and writing our Spring Business Matters magazine. Chock full of burning issues, outstanding business connections and this year's Business Award winners, it will be a must read edition. Put your brand in front of more than 2,000 business leaders in Greater Victoria.  

Don't want to be left out? Contact us for advertising opportunities and to receive 20% off your annual advertising.
Chamber News
Business Leaders Luncheons
AGM & Mayoral Address
Premier John Horgan Luncheon
Governor of the Bank of Canada Luncheon
Business Mixers
Event Photos
How much will BC's new tax cost you?
An unwelcome surprise in the BC Budget is turning into sticker shock for employers calculating just how more tax they will have to pay under the Employer Health Tax. The EHT will cost much more than MSP Premiums, which the new tax will replace after a one-year overlap.

Greater Victoria employers have told The Chamber that the EHT will hurt their ability to grow payrolls. The CEO of a longstanding Victoria business - that employs many young workers - said the new tax is a 260% increase over what the company pays to cover MSP premiums. That hurts, especially as the business is also raising its entry-level pay to $15 per hour. A common concern is that the tax will add an expense for employers with employees who opted out of MSP, such as youth covered under their parents' plans or adults covered under their spouse's plan. The increase over current costs range from $3.3 million for a large public sector employer to $22,000 for a small non-profit to $150,000 for a mid-sized family-owned company.

To find out how the new tax will affect your business, here's a handy estimator you can download. Brace yourself.  
Members Around Town
Island Good launches
The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance has launched Island Good, a new way to identify locally sourced food products. Look for the Island Good logo at these Vancouver Island grocers Thrifty FoodsCountry GrocerQuality Foods, and 49th Parallel Grocery. 

Thrifty Foods: member since 1981
Quality Foods: member since 2015
LifeCycles Project Society wins  SIPP award 
Matthew Kemshaw, Executive Director of LifeCycles Project Society, won $15,000 from the South Island Prosperity Project's Smart South Island Innovation Challenge. The money will support Harvesting Abundance in the Urban Orchard, a program that will connect homeowners, volunteers and staff for effective collaboration on urban orchard harvesting.  
LifeCycles Project Society: member since 2016
South Island Prosperity Project: member since 2017 
Flower Count Numbers are IN!
Last week, 3,467,394,781 flowers were counted in the annual Victoria Flower Count. Congrats to the City of Colwood, named Victoria's Bloomingest Community for the 5th year in a row with over 2,029,598,802 blooms counted! 
BCBusiness 30 under 30
The awards keep rolling in for Samarth Mod, Co-founder and CEO of FreshWorks Studio. The latest accolade? BCBusiness 30 Under 30. BCBusiness was impressed with FreshWorks raking in seven figures in 2017 with 38 employees. The company plans to open offices in Eastern Canada and expand into the US in the next two years.

FreshWorks Studio: member since 2017

U-Bicycle rides into Saanich
Saanich has revised its streets and traffic regulation bylaw to permit
U-Bicycle to operate in the region. U-Bicycle plans to introduce between 75 and 100 bikes for a one-year pilot program.
U-Bicycle: member since 2017
Gov'ts meet for Pacific Coast Collaborative
Premier John Horgan, the governors of Oregon and Washington, and governor of California representative, met last week to mark the 10th anniversary of the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC). They identified critical issues facing all four jurisdictions, including co-ordinated efforts to address environmental protection, trade, the overdose crisis and, in particular, climate change.

"For the past decade, the PCC has helped propel our region to the forefront of climate action," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. "We're ready to tackle the next decade of collaboration on climate and so many other issues, including the destructive scourge of substance-use disorders that too many of our friends, family and neighbours face."

The Chamber is also looking to drive climate action and is offering 10 members partially subsidized Climate Smart training and certification. The program has been proven to save a business money while helping reduce its environmental impact. Check out Climate Smart for more details or email us to sign up now and grab a $1,000 discount.
A $4,000 house, 3D printed in 24 hours

ICON, an Austin, Texas based start-up,
has developed a method for printing a single-storey 650-square-foot house out of cement in only 12 to 24 hours, a fraction of the time it takes for new construction. Using the Vulcan printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house.

The houses are targeted for the developing world, but given Greater Victoria's housing crunch, perhaps homeowners who are looking to subsidize their mortgage could transform their neglected backyard into housing.   

The City of Victoria is considering pre-zoning areas to provide additional density for affordability or purpose-built rentals. Council's discretion in approving such applications would be limited to development permit issues such as layout, landscaping and general appearance.   
Panel reviewing Labour Relations Code hears from BC business groups
A coalition of 13 business organizations wants to make sure the Province considers the impact on investment in BC before making any changes to the existing labour code.

A panel tasked with reviewing the current code was in Victoria on Wednesday. The coalition, which includes the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Board of Trade, made a joint submission asking the panel to respect the consultative efforts made in 1992/93 to craft the current code.

"Workplaces have evolved and continue to change rapidly as technology and new generations of workers demand flexibility, choice and innovative workplaces," states the coalition's submission. "Any changes to the Code need to be cognizant of this change and ensure that opportunities for BC's economy to attract investment, talent and jobs are not compromised in the process."

The Victoria public hearing was the first of 10 planned across the province. Read more about the review, including how to contribute to the process here.
This is a rare opportunity to hear directly from one of Canada's leading experts on monetary policy. Poloz, a highly regarded speaker, has talked about economic uncertainties that keep him up at night including cyber threats, household debt and youth underemployment.
Governor Poloz, appointed in June 2013 for a seven-year term, has worked in the public and private sector and was the President and CEO of Export Development Canada before joining the Bank of Canada. 

Wed, June 27 | 11:15 am-1 pm
Crystal Gardens
720 Douglas St. 

Chamber members get special pricing for this Conference Board of Canada info session.
Save $50 on your ticket with promo code: PRM2 
We need a parking plan
In response to our downtown parking shortage, the City of Victoria staff are recommending an increase to long-term daily parking rates at downtown parkades and councillors have issued a three-year temporary-use permit for a vacant lot in Old Town to be used as a parking lot. However, it doesn't appear the city has a long-term plan for ensuring downtown Victoria remains accessible.

"These decisions are certainly welcome, but Victoria's business community needs to know there is a multi-year strategy - not just one-off serendipitous solutions," Chamber CEO Catherine Holt wrote in her April Business Examiner column. "And yes, we understand that, in an ideal world, this problem would have a regional solution since most of the cars arriving downtown come from outside the city. But we can't wait for that."

You can catch Catherine's full Business Examiner column " Parking: We don't need a miracle, just a plan" in April.
10 jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago
One of the best indications of how quickly the world is changing is how fast new job titles pop up on the scene to keep up with changing technology, scientific discoveries, market shifts and new ideas. Douglas Magazine recently published an article called " 10 Jobs That Didn't Exist 10 Years Ago".

Some of the interesting jobs of note:
  • Virus designer - Makes use of patients' stem cells to create antibodies or targeted therapies. Cells are grown, differentiated and processed using viral vectors. The designer engineers the viral vectors that activate the cells for targeted therapies. 
  • Social media manager - Leads an organization's social-media strategy to boost engagement. Develops strategy to guide online presence on various platforms, producing content, customer service, analyzing data, managing campaigns.
  • UX designer - Improves the usability and/or accessibility of a product (e.g., an app or website) by examining every stage of a consumer's interaction with that product; tries to make the experience better at each point of interaction.
See the full list here.
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