The annual Victoria Flower Count is scheduled to start next week (Mar 7-14)! Who's ready to count some blooms? Not sure just how many blooms your large heather bush and small cherry tree carry - never fear there is a formula for that.

In 1975, The Chamber started the annual program to promote the beauty and colour of our region to help attract tourists. Today a wide variety of community leaders support this tongue-in-cheek event.
Federal Budget & Taxes
The federal budget contains a lot of icing but not much cake for Greater Victoria. In particular there were no initiatives to help employers attract and retain employees, which is our top priority, and no money for infrastructure projects in this region.
The focus of the federal budget is mainly on gender diversity, adding 5 weeks to parental leave for new parents and money for women entrepreneurs and First Nations. One bright note for business - small business tax is reduced to 10% this year will drop to 9% in 2019.
The budget also included an update on the closely watched proposal for small business tax reform that chambers across Canada rallied to change.  Click here for more details on the new thresholds for passive investment of business income, including Business Limit reductions and income sprinkling measures as well as changes to the Canada Workers Benefit.  
The budget didn't deliver on funding for transportation, housing affordability and child care, any of which would have been a great contribution to making our region more affordable. 
Chamber News
Business Leaders Luncheons
AGM & Mayoral Address
Marketplace Mixer
Business Mixers
Prodigy Group Mingles
Event Photos
Employer Health Tax Raises Too Many Questions
The Chamber has heard many concerns about the Provincial Government's plan to introduce a payroll tax starting next year. There are some significant issues with the Employer Health Tax that must be addressed before implementation.

The Province has announced it will be consulting with non-profits, school districts and municipalities on the tax. Businesses must also be consulted.

There needs to be clarity, for example, on how government will measure payrolls, whether some types of payment will be exempt and how the different tax rates will be adapted to a rising cost of living.

"This tax appears to create an incentive to keep payrolls as low as possible. It will discourage employers from hiring or promoting staff, which is surely an unintended consequence," said Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "We look forward to the opportunity to express the concerns of our members to the Minister."

2020 North American Indigenous Games Bid 
Songhees Nation, and Nations from the Greater Victoria region gathered with young athletes and community leaders to announce they are bidding to host the 2020 North American Indigenous Games. The games were created in the 1990s as a catalyst to support the health and wellbeing of indigenous youth through sport and cultural activities.

"Bringing the North American Indigenous Games to Greater Victoria in 2020 will not only be a defining showcase of athleticism and culture, it will be a significant economic generator for the entire region," Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam said. "We already work well together across the region. The Games will strengthen collaborative relationships, and we'll have fun doing this together."

The games are hosted every 3 years and feature athletes competing in a number of sports including archery, badminton, basketball, lacrosse and soccer. The games would bring 5,000 athletes to the region, if successful Greater Victoria is vying against bids from Ottawa, Halifax and Winnipeg.

Songhees Nation: member since 2017
Your Chamber in the News!

Universal Truth About Universal Child Care
Message from Chamber CEO Catherine Holt   
This article originally appeared in the Times Colonist.

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has been exerting his influence in several ways on the government's agenda, and that includes objecting to its promise of universal $10-a-day child care. The universal part means that anyone who needs the program can use it, regardless of income.

Weaver was quoted in the Times Colonist as saying: "I've made the case many times before - somebody who's earning $2 million a year clearly doesn't need to pay $10 for child care. Why would we support a program that would diffuse the limited resources we have to provide a one-size-fits-all [approach]?"

However, there are a couple of universal truths about
universal, one-size-fits-all programs.
  1. The first truth is that they endure. 
  2. The second truth is that, counter-intuitively, the only way to make sure there is enough funding to sustain them is to provide them to everyone. As government funding gets tight, we don't cut programs that benefit everyone - we cut programs for the poor. Think health care compared to income assistance.
The Chamber supports a one-size-fits-all approach to child care because it is the tried-and-true Canadian way to have a rising tide that lifts all boats.
Giving Back
Past Chamber Chair and 2018 Chamber Member of the Year Al Hasham will be the 2018-19 United Way Greater Victoria Community Campaign Chair. In this volunteer position, Al will lead the community fundraising efforts for United Way Greater Victoria in 2018 and 2019, working alongside the local United Way team. Al will help United Way Greater Victoria realize its 3-year goal of $15 million to be raised by the end of the 2019 campaign.

"I love my community and I love that United Way gives back right here in Victoria and across the Capital Regional District from Sooke to Sidney to Saltspring Island," said Al. "Powerful and passionate - that's how I feel about the work United Way does here. No matter what race, religion or background, United Way is here to help."

Al Hasham has lived in and been a business owner in Victoria since 1987. Currently he is the President and CEO of Maximum Express Courier, Freight & Logistics, President and CEO at Max Furniture and CEO of Cambria College.

United Way Greater Victoria: member since 1972

Maximum Express Courier, Freight & Logistics: member since 2004

Max Furniture: member since 2008

Cambria College: member since 2017

Hear from BC Ferries on their plans to evolve our coast ferry system.

BC Ferries is one of the largest ferry operators in the world and an integral part of the highway system for anyone who resides or does business on Vancouver Island.

Hear from their CEO, Mark Collins, on their strategic plan Connecting Communities and what the future looks like for our coast ferry system as it continues to evolve.

Wed, Apr 18 | 11:30 am-1 pm
Hotel Grand Pacific, 463 Belleville St.

Members Around Town
Winning Big in BC
FreshWorks Studio's co-founders Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani have won the Best Immigrants Entrepreneur Award at the 2018 Small Business BC Awards. The award recognizes an outstanding new Canadian who has overcome adversity, exhibits leadership both in their community and within their business, and has a strong track record of business growth. 
FreshWorks Studio: member since 2017  
Chamber Governor Passes Away 
Chamber Governor Alan Emery has passed away in Victoria. Alan served on numerous boards and organizations: Vice-President of the BC Chamber of Commerce; President of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (1977), the Victoria Bar Association and the Victoria Golf Club; Board Chair of BC Institute of Technology, Glenlyon Boy's School and the Victoria Airport Authority.

Chamber Accreditation  
The Chamber is proud to announce we have received an A+ Accreditation with Distinction rating from the Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada (CACC). The national program vets chambers on the work that they do for their members as well as excellence in governance and then awards accreditation to a select number of chambers based on set criteria.
Largest Clipper sets sail Thursday for Seattle
Clipper Navigation's brand new  Victoria Clipper V made its inaugural run on the Victoria to Seattle route yesterday. The high-speed catamaran, with a fleet-high capacity of 440 passengers and a new business class section, replaces the 22-year-old Clipper IV, which is being retired from service after today's (Feb. 28) run.
Clipper Navigation Ltd. - Victoria Clipper: member since 2014
Esquimalt Graving Dock
The Government of Canada announced $15.8 million for the replacement of the main (north) substation at the Esquimalt Graving Dock.

The investment will be used to construct a new, modern substation building and replace aging high- and low-voltage transformers with modern and efficient equipment. The newly installed equipment is designed to last for a minimum of 30 years and will be easier and safer to use. The contract also includes the cleanup of service tunnels and the replacement of old, lead-based electrical cables with environmentally friendly cables.

The graving dock's local economic impact is estimated at about $183 million. It supports about 1,350 jobs in the Capital Region and generates about $18.8 million in federal, provincial and municipal taxes, according to the federal government.

CFB Esquimalt: member since 1979

Business Matters 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.
Welcome to Our Newest Members!  

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