Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
May 20, 2020
We were moving quickly. What was a thriving economy with full-employment and promises of another prosperous tourism season ahead was replaced with weeks of uncertainty. The world's economy stepped into a deep freeze.

For weeks, information came fast and changed often. Government programs were launched, then tweaked and tweaked some more. Our outstanding provincial and federal health officials guided us to safer times.

As we move into Phase 2, it's more important than ever to remember that we are all in this together.

The weeks ahead will be profoundly difficult for many business. We need to support each other, and we need to encourage innovative ideas needed to survive in the new normal.

This is how we will restore confidence in our community, and how we can make sure we will be there for the better times ahead.

The Chamber will continue working tirelessly to support members. Our voice is your voice. Together we have shaped government policies that have provided financial relief for business and helped show the way forward.
Recent Program Updates
Commercial rent relief applications opens Monday
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the application process for the Canada Commercial Rent Assistance begins May 25.

Under the program, the federal and provincial governments will cover 50% of rent with the tenant and property owner covering 25% each. This will not be easy for businesses and owners suffering tremendous loss in revenue but it is the best way to ensure we can get back to a robust economy as soon as possible.
Feds fix oversight in COVID-19 loan program
More businesses are eligible for emergency loans after the federal government finally patched a flaw in the program originally unveiled in early April.

Yesterday's change to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) addressed concerns raised by The Chamber and business organizations such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“Eligibility for (CEBA) should not discriminate against different business structures. such as entrepreneurs receiving income directly from their firms and businesses that rely on contract employees and pay staff through dividends," the Canadian Chamber stated yesterday.

The Chamber welcomes the move to fill this gap, though we wonder why it took so long. The delay has hurt many businesses and hindered their ability to plan for the months ahead.
Large employer loan applications open today
The application process opened today for the federal government's Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF).

The program is designed to be a lender of last resort for businesses in Canada with annual revenues of more than $300 million that need $60 million or more in financing. The employers must have significant operations or a large workforce in Canada. Loans will be assessed case-by-case. There is no cap and the amount is based on cash flow needs for the next 12 months.

Applicants will need to explain their plans for sustainability in the fight against climate change, as well as promising not to pay excessively for executives.
Restart BC: Phase 2 underway this week
As the May Long-Weekend came to a close, BC began Phase Two of its Restart Plan. Included in this plan is the reopening of the retail sector, hair salons, parks, beaches and much more. 

  • The Bay Centre and Hillside Shopping Centre have opened with reduced hours and will be open every day of the week. 

  • Salons, barbers and other personal service establishments are opening (many with extended hours to meet demand), while adhering to thorough sanitization procedures. 

  • Restaurants are slowly beginning to open with limited seating capacity, and takeout options will remain available at many local eateries. 

  • Hotels, gyms and other businesses will be opening soon - now is the perfect time to purchase a gift certificate to support them until then.
Although we are heading towards a new normal, it is essential we continue to follow guidelines set by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Maintain social distancing, wash your hands diligently and stay home if you are feeling unwell. Together, as a community, we can help ensure businesses will remain open and the provincial economy can restart successfully.

The Chamber Member Service Updates page is continually updated to reflect our member’s updated hours. You can visit the page here.

In accordance with Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan, Chamber staff have returned to the office. Please note that our office is not open to visitors (apart from scheduled meetings). We are available to answer any inquiries. Please call 250-383-7191 or email

As our province begins to reopen, and businesses start resuming services, we look forward to continuing to help local businesses during these unprecedented times. Whether our staff is in the office or working from home, we are #InItTogetherYYJ with you.
Upcoming Virtual Fireside Chats
Tomorrow, May 21
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Jeff Bray, Executive Director, Downtown Victoria Business Association, as they talk specifically about how our downtown businesses can recover in the face of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, May 22
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Victoria Police Chief Del Manak, as they talk about safety for businesses and citizens in the downtown core as businesses reopen. Chief Manak will provide practical steps we can all take to ensure we have a safer community.
Setting up B.C. for Recovery
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, as they talk about how our collaborative approach of working together across governments and communities has made British Columbia a leader in this country when it comes to flattening the curve and setting us up for a successful recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Homeless camps to be evacuated by end of today
The provincial government says it expects homeless camps along Pandora Avenue and at Topaz Park will be evacuated by the end of the day. Temporary accommodation has been found for more than 330 people who had been living in the camps.

Last week, the province purchased the Comfort Inn Hotel near Topaz Park. The building now houses 93 people and the government has promised they will have support services available to them.

The Chamber strongly advocates for the importance of safe communities. To be successful, housing requires mental health and addictions services to address the root cause of homelessness.
Let us know about updates to your hours or services
We've created a webpage to help your customers keep track of updated hours and services as a result of COVID-19. If your changes are not yet listed, email  to have your information added.

Click on a category below to find innovative ways our members continue to serve Greater Victoria.
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
Masks for Meals

Pacific Football Club announced they will be selling branded face masks with proceeds going to local restaurants. These restaurants will use the proceeds to provide meals to those in need throughout the region. The campaign, which is in partnership with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association , includes these Chamber member restaurants:
Moxie’s Grill & Bar : member since 2012
Strathcona Hotel : member since 1961
Irish Times Pub : member since 2003
Chuck’s Burger Bar : member since 2019
Pre-Order your masks here.
Pacific Football Club: member since 2019
BC Restaurant & Food Services Association (BCRFA): member since 1996
Emergency Community Support Fund

The United Way of Greater Victoria and The Victoria Foundation are offering $1.6 million to local charities. The Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) is now accepting funding applications, and funding can be used to cover staffing costs, purchase assistance and much more for Victoria’s most vulnerable groups. Charities are urged to apply here .
United Way of Greater Victoria: member since 1972
Jack Stock

Jack 103.1 has announced Jack Stock – 2 days of Peace & Music & Self-Isolation. Tune in live on May 29 and May 30 for “the best live concerts ever!”
Rogers Media - Jack 103.1 & Ocean 98.5: member since 1962

Interested in helping children by staying active? Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria have launched #MoveForMentoring , a virtual fundraiser that supports building meaningful relationships for young people in Greater Victoria. From now until June 30, you or a team can sign up to raise money — anything from pushups to dancing is encouraged, as long as you get up and move!
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria: member since 2000
Book Donations

Do you have a bookshelf collecting dust? Our Place Society is currently requesting book donations to their New Roads Therapeutic Recovery Community. Genres requested include books on grief, mindfulness , religion, nutrition and other helpful topics. Specific book requests can be found here
Our Place Society: member since 2010
Is your business implementing new strategies or innovative ways of connecting with consumers?