Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
April 14, 2021
Throne speech offers few details ahead of BC budget
Monday's speech from the throne offered few details about the provincial government's plan to help businesses recover from the pandemic. With case counts climbing over the last few weeks and the rapid spread of variants of concern, our economic recovery remains precarious one week before the province unveils its 2021 budget.

Aside from urging ongoing vigilance and a spirit of resilience, the throne speech promised that the April 20 budget will invest in capital projects and infrastructure to create jobs and boost local communities. There will also be money to help people disproportionately hurt by the pandemic, including gig workers and people working face-to-face with customers in retail and the hospitality industry. Many of those most affected are women, people of colour and young people.

"The Chamber is looking for next week's budget to reassure businesses struggling to get through the pandemic," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "We want to see investments that help employers find and keep workers. We need accessible child care so that parents can stay in the workforce, and we need training programs that ensure workers have current skills for the many jobs that are in demand but are going unfilled."
Circuit Breaker Restrictions
Restrictions expected to extend through to May
The restaurant industry has been told to expect restrictions on dining inside to extend beyond April and through to May. Representatives from the industry, including the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, met with BC's Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry this week. The restrictions, which the province called a circuit breaker, were set to expire on April 19.
Applications open for Circuit Breaker grants
Businesses adversely affected by the unexpected imposition of restrictions on March 30 can now apply for grants to help cover costs.

Businesses with between five and 99 employees or contracted staff are eligible for $5,000. Business with 100 or more employees can get $10,000, while businesses with between one and four people on staff can receive $2,000. If the business does not have any employees or contracted staff, a grant of $1,000 is available.
PST rebate for capital investments now available
Business in BC can now apply for Provincial Sales Tax rebates on purchases or leases of machinery and equipment, including tools, furniture, computers, software and zero-emission vehicles.

The rebate, announced in September, allows incorporated businesses to recover 100% of PST on most machinery and equipment purchased between Sept. 17 last year and Sept. 30 of this year.

Applications can be made until Sept. 20 for the first window. A second window of eligibility begins in October and continues to March 31, 2022. Rebate eligibility is based on the Canada Revenue Agency’s Capital Cost Allowance classes.
Feds set to unveil 2021 budget on Monday
The federal budget will be unveiled on April 19, and is expected to confirm ongoing support for wage and rent subsidies and other relief programs that have been vital for businesses affected by the pandemic.

Working with the Canadian Chamber, we have been advocating to government to offer direction on how investments in the private sector can create jobs and encourage the growth of new and existing businesses.

Read next week's BizNews for more analysis on the federal budget, and what it will mean for Greater Victoria.
Victoria reduces property tax rate for businesses
The Chamber and the Downtown Victoria Business Association commend the City of Victoria for reducing property taxes for business. It's the right thing to do as the pandemic continues to create challenges for our region’s economy.  

The City of Victoria has approved a two per cent decrease in taxes — about $146 for business with an average assessed value of $647,000. During 2020, the assessed value of commercial property dropped by an average of 5.29 per cent. Residential assessed values in the city increased by 2.26 per cent.  

“We’re grateful that Victoria council has acknowledged the struggles businesses are facing with uncertain conditions and the pace of change spurred by the pandemic,” Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce says. “We’re seeing many businesses pivot successfully and develop innovations that allow them to adapt. Reducing taxes during this time shows that the city wants to work with the business community, so that all of our employers and operators have a chance to get through this together.”  

The tax break reflects an adjustment to the city’s current policy of equalizing changes to taxes across all classes. If council had chosen to follow that policy, the average assessed business would have had a tax increase of $122.

The Chamber will recap property tax rates for businesses in all Greater Victoria municipalities as the information becomes available in the coming weeks.
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
Downtown Victoria Business Association: Member since 2007
Camosun gets grant to explore building film studio
Camosun College is getting $150,000 from the province to explore film industry training programs as well as the development of a film studio on campus in the District of Saanich.

“The investment from the BC government allows the college to further explore the feasibility of a film studio and sound stage at our Interurban campus and the exciting educational possibilities it could create for students," Camosun College's president Sherri Bell said in a news release.

The funds are a first step for creating the infrastructure needed to provide more opportunities for Vancouver Island's film industry, which continues riding a wave of optimism in 2021.

"By working together, we can capture the opportunity to bring more big-budget movies and TV shows produced right here in Saanich and create the essential infrastructure for a successful creative industry on the south Island at large,” Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said in a news release.
Camosun College: Member since 1981
District of Saanich: Member since 2019
Victoria votes Thursday on revised plastic bag bylaw
The City of Victoria is in the process of bringing back a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The revised bylaw goes to final reading on April 15.

The bylaw has been approved by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The District of Saanich will vote on June 15 to restrict plastic bags in that municipality.

“The Chamber worked closely with the City to ensure the bylaw reflected the work already being done by businesses to reduce waste and look after customer requests,” Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams says. “The public asked for this change and businesses responded. Victoria is to be commended for shaping the bylaw to ensure adoption by businesses, and for using a model that allows for seamless adoption of these regulations across our region.”
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
District of Saanich: Member since 2019
Hear how BC Housing plans on creating homes for everyone
Greater Victoria is facing crises in housing, overdose deaths and COVID-19, with all posing significant challenges for our region. The pandemic has made it clear that every British Columbian needs access to safe and affordable housing.

Learn how BC Housing is working with the City of Victoria, local non-profits, the private sector and Island Health on a coordinated response to shelter more than 500 people experiencing homelessness in Greater Victoria.

Learn about recent initiatives including:

  • BC Housing’s response to COVID-19
  • Shelter to Housing Initiative in Victoria
  • Community benefits of new housing
  • Opportunities for the business community
Tues. May 11, 2021 | 12-1 PM
Submit your questions for Mr. Ramsay by April 26, 2021.
How do you create a
personal brand?
Living in an ever increasingly virtual world, it's never been more important to create a positive online brand.

Hear from the Ocean 98.5 FM's morning radio host extraordinaire Robin Farrell on tips to creating a lasting brand and then share your takeaways in virtual breakout rooms.
Thurs., May 13 | 5-6 PM
Chamber Chats with CEO Bruce Williams
Pivot Pilots 2.0
As we continue to taxi along the Recovery Runway we are having conversations with Pivot Pilots — those business leaders who were able to pivot their operations through innovation. Chamber CEO Bruce Williams speaks with Scott Phillips, CEO of Starfish Medical, Richard Gale, Director of Camosun Innovates, and David Nicholls, Partner and General Manager of Vancouver Island Brewing.

In this edition, we speak with a company who undertook manufacturing much-needed ventilators for medical support to help COVID patients, a post-secondary that created face shields and a safe model for transporting vaccines, and a brewery pivoting from making beer to producing hand sanitizer.
Special thanks to our series sponsor: Island Savings
StarFish Medical: Member since 2009
Camosun College: Member since 1981
Vancouver Island Brewing: Member since 1993
Highlighting our Chamber Champions
As part of the celebration of Chamber Week in February, our Chamber Champions submitted quotes highlighting the importance of investing in The Chamber. Each week we will be showcasing these quotes.
"We invest in the Chamber because it's more than just a group, it's a good cause and good causes need to be supported."

Chamber Job Board
Ensure your job opening is seen by the right candidates with The Chamber’s job board!
For an extra $45 USD per job posting, shoot your listing to the top of the job board and increase the amount of job-seekers that view your job offer. Your job will also have a highlighted “FEATURED” badge and will be published to the Google Jobs Network.
You can also upgrade your previously-posted positions to ensure your job opening gets the most views over time.
Learn more about how to post on the job board and utilize featured posting here. ​
If you have any questions about the Job Board, please email:
Building up Greater Victoria
April is Construction Month, and Chamber members have been working through rain or shine to complete housing and infrastructure projects across the region.

As an essential industry, The Chamber is proud to support our members who work in the construction industry, including three Chamber Champions: Knappett Projects Inc, Kinetic Construction, and Mike Geric Construction Ltd.
To celebrate Construction Month, the #LunchBoxChallenge is encouraging construction employers to treat crews to lunch from local restaurants with grants of $250 to $500. Employers are able to apply for their grant here.

As Greater Victoria continues to expand, rewarding careers in the construction industry are available. Check out The Chamber’s job board to see great job offers from Chamber members. 

On April 30, just as Construction Month comes to an end, the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) will host their 2021 Awards to recognize excellence in construction. From awards recognizing women in construction to safety awards, The Chamber looks forward to celebrating our members and their achievements. 
Member News
Kinetic’s approach to lean construction

Kinetic Construction has been featured in The Jobsite for their implementation of lean construction. With the goal of eliminating waste while delivering more to clients, lean construction focuses on increasing efficiency between employees as they focus on an overall goal rather than individual objectives. Learn more about Kinetic’s approach to lean construction here.

Kinetic Construction: member since 2018
Kinetic Construction: Chamber Champion since 2020
36 Hours for 36k

HeroWork Program Society’s 36 Hours for 36k Campaign will take place April 16 -17. During this time, Trevor Botkin, Executive Director of HeroWork Victoria, will stay in a man-lift for 36 hours to raise funds for their Radical Renovation of The Salvation Army. The project has an overall goal of raising $80,000 by June 19 to renovate The Salvation Army’s Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre.

HeroWork Program Society: member since 2019
The Salvation Army: member since 2006
A virtual theatre experience

In another pivot for the art community, The Belfry Theatre has launched Belfry on Film – an opportunity for patrons to watch local performances at home. Their recent performance, featured on the CHEK News segment Vital People, showcased the dramatization of interviews with refugees across Canada. In June, their production of Same Old Same Old will be available for virtual viewing.
Belfry Theatre: member since 1995
CHEK News: member since 1971 
CHEK News: Chamber Champion since 2020
Esquimalt’s memorial banner program

The Township of Esquimalt has launched a memorial banner program, giving families a chance to honor their loved ones. The banners, displayed near CFB Esquimalt from September to December over the next three years, will feature the name of deceased service personnel and the conflict in which they served. Banners can be ordered on a first-come first-serve basis here.

Township of Esquimalt: member since 2020
CFB Esquimalt: member since 1979
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Seaspan constructing modern research ship

Seaspan ULC has begun construction on Canada’s most modern science research ship. Containing advanced wet and dry labs and specialized equipment, the ship will also be used for search and rescue operations as needed. The vessel is scheduled to be launched for oceanographic research missions in 2024.
Seaspan ULC: member since 1972
Seaspan ULC: Chamber Champion since 2020
Burger Binge

Be the hero of your office with The Zone @ 91.3’s Burger Binge Contest! Download The Zone’s app and enter to win lunch from Big Wheel Burger for yourself and 10 of your coworkers. Although office lunches may not look the same, this contest is a tasty way to enjoy a meal and connect with your colleagues remotely.
100.3 the Q & the Zone @ 91.3: member since 1987
Big Wheel Burger: member since 2020
Big Wheel Burger: Chamber Champion since 2020
RBC employees receive more time off

To promote the importance of workplace mental health, RBC has given staff an extra day off from work this year. The extra day is provided in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with needing to take time off, with the hope that employees take the extra day to recharge and be mindful of work-life boundaries.
RBC Financial Group - Commercial Financial Services, V. I. South: member since 1962
RBC Financial Group - Commercial Financial Services, V. I. South: Chamber Champion since 2020
Blue Love Campaign receives $100,000

The United Way of Greater of Victoria has launched their Blue Love Campaign for Mental Health – an initiative to raise funds for counselling, peer support and outreach services across Vancouver Island. The campaign, which aims to bring attention to the many hearts that have turned blue from shared, world-wide trauma over the past year, has already received a gift of $100,000 from Peninsula Co-op, who will match every dollar raised up to $100,000.
United Way of Greater Victoria: member since 1972
Peninsula Co-op: member since 2013
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