Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
May 27, 2020
Bill Lewis, chair of the Hotel Association of Greater Victoria, was today's guest on our Fireside Chat series with Chamber CEO Catherine Holt.

The Chamber continues to call on government to help tourism, expected to be the hardest hit sector of the economy.

Lewis said the federal wage subsidy has helped the hotel industry as it "re-learns its business." However, there are concerns about what will happen if the subsidy is not extended beyond September.

Hotels face a number of increased costs, including the need to showcase to guests that measures have been taken to ensure accommodations are properly sterilized. This extra effort means hotels will want to encourage longer stays, perhaps charging a premium for short-term visits.

Marketing our region will also be key so that we will have a source of visitors once it is safe to travel, whether regionally, nationally or internationally.

One hope is that more British Columbians will choose to vacation close to home, staying in hotels and patronizing shops as they would on holiday elsewhere.

"it would be wonderful for all of us to enjoy our backyards and our businesses," Lewis says.
Canadian chamber and tourism industry ask for help
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is joining with tourism industry associations to call on the federal government to make five changes in support of the sector.

To help tourism businesses survive without the summer revenue they depend on, the federal government is being asked to:

  1. Develop clear standards for travellers
  2. Facilitate safe inter-provincial travel
  3. Re-assess restrictions on non-essential travel from the US
  4. Ease international travel thoughtfully, following successful models elsewhere
  5. Amend the mandatory 14-day quarantine to target high-risk visitors.
Paid sick leave can't be added burden for employers
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan have said publicly that they support the introduction of paid sick days to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as businesses re-open.

The Chamber is adamant that, if such a measure is introduced, it cannot be funded by employers who are already struggling with higher costs. We all want to ensure our workplaces are healthy, but it is vital that we don't make things worse by forcing unsustainable practices on employers. Paid sick days might be a good idea, but how it would be delivered needs to be well thought out before being introduced.
Hotline enables businesses to navigate federal relief
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has created a hotline offering access to 125 qualified business-advisors who can provide guidance on federal relief-programs and organizations available to support your specific business.

The Business Resilience Service is available at 1-866-989-1080 seven days per week.
City-branded toolkit helps business safely re-open
The City of Victoria has created a toolkit to help businesses re-open during Phase 2 of the provincial government's Restart Plan. The toolkit includes signage, a safety checklist and designs that help customers understand where to stand to ensure physical distancing. The kit was produced collaboratively by the city, Community Micro Lending, Downtown Victoria Business Association and Think Local First.
Downtown Victoria Business Association: Member since 2007
Community Micro Lending: Member since 2020
Think Local First: Member since 2014
VIATEC handbook helps staff get 'back to the office'

VIATEC has created an informative “Back to the Office” Re-entry handbook to help employers make sure their office spaces are safe for employees and customers.

The guide includes a master checklist complete with a list of high-touch items that need to be sterilized often, as well as ideas for maintaining physically distancing in small offices.
VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council): member since 1991
Saanich grants reprieve to roadside stands
Roadside stands in the District of Saanich have been given a reprieve after council voted on Monday to stop enforcing a bylaw prohibiting the "sale of homegrown and value-added fruits, vegetables, flowers and homemade crafts" from urban homes.

The issue came to a head after Foxgloves Flowers opened a roadside stand to sell off a shipment of perishable product received before the pandemic hit. The innovative approach turned out to be a hit with customers, and an example of a successful pivot needed for business to survive our ongoing crisis. The Chamber applauds Saanich and Foxgloves Flowers for their efforts!
Foxgloves Flowers: Member since 2006
District of Saanich: Member since 2019
Federal relief available for non-profits, charities
Non-profits and charities, which contribute to the valuable civil society sector of the economy, have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help, the federal government created the $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, available through the Canadian Red Cross, the United Way and Community Foundations of Canada.

Funding criteria is for organizations that are not receiving other relief, and is based on support for vulnerable populations.
United Way: Member since 1972
Is your business open? We want to hear from you!
For 157 years the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has worked with businesses through good times and bad. Like an insurance policy that you’re glad to have when things go wrong, we’ve been active through this crisis to support our members.

Join our members in supporting local businesses to restart our economy as we prepare to move into Phase 3 of BC's Restart Plan.
The following industries are putting their plans in place for increased activity in the coming months:

  • Enjoy a day in a local park, or spend time in the great outdoors when camping facilities open. Be sure to stock up on camping supplies from a local retailer.

  • Universities and Colleges will be implementing a mix of online and in-class sessions this September, while K-12 education will return in full in September (with a partial return next week).
Although not every local business has opened its doors, buying gift certificates is a perfect way to support your favourite organization. Whether it’s a certificate to help someone buy textbooks, or for a stay at a beautiful hotel, you can still support business from the comfort of your own home.
The  Chamber Member Service Updates page is continually revised to reflect our member’s updated hours. You can visit the page  here. Click on a category below to find innovative ways our members continue to serve Greater Victoria.
Upcoming Virtual Fireside Chats
On June 1, BC Transit is planning to jumpstart service delivery and re-institute fares in our region.

Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Erinn Pinkerton, CEO of BC Transit, as they talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted ridership in the region and what their plans are to restore consumer confidence as restrictions ease in the province.
Submit your questions for Erinn by noon on Monday, June 1 to
With concerts and gatherings of more than 50 people restricted for the foreseeable future — the arts and entertainment industry has had its livelihood disappear overnight.

Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Kathryn Laurin, CEO of the Victoria Symphony , as they talk about how organizations and businesses in the arts and entertainment industry will recover in the face of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Submit your questions for Kathryn by noon on Tues., June 2 to
UVic projects get funding for COVID-19 solutions
Innovations being developed at the University of Victoria will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. UVic has received funding from the Digital Technology Supercluster COVID-19 program in Vancouver.

The consortium is investing $60 million in a number of projects, including those at UVic, to improve the health and safety of Canadians and build expertise to help in future emergencies.

“I am proud that UVic researchers are finding solutions that can potentially help our province and country emerge from the current situation with new knowledge that benefits society,” Lisa Kalynchuk, UVic’s vice-president of research, said in a news release.
University of Victoria: Member since 1976
Connecting employers with employees today
The Chamber is proud to have featured more than 200 jobs on our Job Board since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. We continue to offer this service free of charge to employers using the code SUPPORTYYJ.

The Chamber is receiving recognition for this program internationally and we are working with various organizations to encourage other chambers and associations to help local essential service providers and employees get connected.

If you have any difficulty posting, please email We will get back to you ASAP on the next business day.

All jobs posted to our job board have been vetted by a member of The Chamber team.
Thanks to our friends at H2 Accelerator, we have a new ad campaign you'll see online. It encourages out-of-work locals to pitch in at businesses that need help.
Members Around Town
Local businesses assisting cancer patients

In addition to the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer patients on Vancouver Island who face up to six weeks of treatment far from home have also had services from community-based support programs paused or reduced. 

Thanks to a growing network of local businesses, support systems are improving. Accent Inns , Hotel Zed , Parkside Hotel , Wilson’s Transportation , Current Taxi and Thrifty Foods are some of the many Chamber businesses helping the 20,000 cancer patients on Vancouver Island each year as they receive world-class care from the BC Cancer Foundation – Vancouver Island . BC Cancer continues to offer patients access to safe, short-term accommodation, transportation and gift cards for groceries, medications and fuel.
Accent Inns | Hotel Zed: member since 1992
The Parkside Hotel and Spa: member since 2013
Wilson’s Transportation: member since 2004
Current Taxi: member since 2019
Thrifty Foods: member since 1981
BC Cancer Foundation – Vancouver Island: member since 1997
New President of Pearson College

Craig Davis has been named the new President and Head of Pearson College UWC , effective Aug. 1. Davis has been part of the education sector in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vancouver, making him an excellent fit for the uniquely global campus, says the college's board. 

Pearson College UWC: member since 2017
Free Meal on Us

TUTTI , Victoria’s local delivery app, is offering $25 off meals for hospitality industry workers under their Free Meal on Us campaign. Every order will see $2 donated to The Mustard Seed . TUTTI has also launched a 30-day free trial of their delivery service to local restaurants, offering low fees and helping ensure people in Greater Victoria can continue to enjoy their favourite meals.

TUTTI: member since 2018
The Mustard Seed: member since 1999

Prince of Whales Whale Watching has launched WhaleTails , a free junior naturalist course that provides children with fun and educational activity sheets. The program aims to teach youth between four and 12 about wildlife in BC, while also engaging them in ongoing conservation efforts
Prince of Whales: member since 2002
E-Commerce Assistance

Alacrity Canada is offering its services to help local businesses build e-commerce stores and digital marketing campaigns.

In partnership with Jetstream, this initiative aims to help brick and mortar retailers, manufactures and businesses tap into a new revenue stream. 

Alacrity Canada: member since 2019
Is your business implementing new strategies or innovative ways of connecting with consumers?