Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
August 5, 2020
As homeless count grows, lasting solutions needed
Greater Victoria businesses are renowned for their generosity, and have always gone out of their way to help people in our community in need. However, our region is facing a crisis caused by failed policies and political posturing that has left too many neighbourhoods feeling unsafe.

From encampments in Beacon Hill Park and other public spaces, to temporary housing in former hotels, there is a growing concern that we are losing the safe community all of us depend on.

So what can we do to make a difference? As The Chamber, we will continue to advocate to all levels of government to invest in long-term solutions that go beyond temporary fixes. Housing alone is not the answer. There also needs to be readily available mental health and addiction services. The Chamber would like to see an expansion of the number of therapeutic recovery communities, which have the highest measurable success rates for treating people who want to end their dependence on drugs and alcohol.

As individuals, you can help by learning as much as you can about the issues that lead to homelessness and getting out to vote in coming elections. The City of Victoria is planning a new date for a by-election that was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If you're not happy with decisions made by a council majority, make sure you know which councillors vote as a slate and who your alternatives are.

The Chamber has spoken out in the past about the dangers of populist politics, and will continue encouraging people to get out and vote to ensure better representation of our entire community.
Residency requirement a fair approach to housing
The Chamber supports a motion by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps for residency requirements to prioritize placement in supported housing. The 2020 Point-in-Time Homeless Count, released this week by the Community Social Planning Council, provides a snapshot of the number of people living outdoors or in shelters on a given night.

Volunteers and staff combed the region on March 11 and reported at least 1,523 people experiencing homelessness. The survey showed that 84% of people had been living in Greater Victoria for more than a year. A further 4% weren't able to answer or chose not to answer.

Our region has struggled for years to help people transition to more permanent housing. We do not have the capacity to become a destination for people from across the country who would be better served by accessing services in their communities.
Transportation networks vital to affordable housing
The Capital Regional District has released a report that sheds some light on the connection between affordable housing and transportation networks.

One of The Chamber's main advocacy priorities continues to be the need for fundamental infrastructure that allows people to live and work in our region. Transportation and affordable housing are key.

The CRD study shows the value of a regional approach to transportation planning. By expanding transit, reducing commute times and improving active transportation networks, we can make sure our region's limited geography is used wisely.
Capital Regional District: Member since 1993
Feds announce change to CERB, extension to CECRA
Last week, the federal government announced plans to move Canadians off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and onto an updated Employment Insurance system. The CERB was an early response to the pandemic to help Canadians who suddenly lost their income as the economy was shut down.

Some employers have voiced concern that the CERB has made it harder for them to get staff back to work. The new program will make it easier for people to begin earning money without having their benefit clawed back, and will better protect contract workers.

The government also announced it was extending the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. It now covers July and August.

The Chamber continues to ask landlords, who must apply for the subsidy on behalf of their tenants, to work with their customers to ensure the long-term health of businesses.
Aug. 25 deadline for temporary layoff extension
If you need to extend COVID-19 temporary layoffs beyond Aug. 30, make sure to file your application by Aug. 25. The provincial government sent a reminder today to employers who want to retain staff who have been laid off. Under the Employment Standards Act, layoffs become permanent after 24 weeks and require severance.

The Chamber loudly advocated for an extension as many employers abiding by physical distancing restrictions are not yet able to bring back staff. Forcing organizations to let go of workers would mean the loss of trained teams and a large, unexpected expense.

The provincial government heard our concerns and allowed employers to apply for a variance to the deadline. The two-step application requires 50% support from the employees and the completion of an online application.

The provincial government also announced today that it would review layoff and recall rights of workers in the hard-hit hotel sector.
Expanded rebate helps transition to electric vehicles
A provincial rebate program is helping businesses transition to electric vehicles. The CleanBC Specialty-Use Vehicle Incentive is offering $2 million in new rebates.

"Eligible specialty-use vehicles include electric passenger buses, airport and port service vehicles, motorcycles, low-speed utility trucks and heavy-duty transport trucks. Rebates range from $1,700 to $50,000 per vehicle and are available for businesses, local and regional governments, and non-profit organizations that are purchasing five or fewer vehicles," says a statement from the BC government.

HarbourAir used the rebate program to purchase a fully electric shuttle for passengers travelling between Vancouver's harbour and the Vancouver International Airport.
HarbourAir: Member since 1993
Patio Season has arrived in Greater Victoria! Use this handy checklist to discover patios with incredible views, delicious food and cold drinks to enjoy on a hot day.

Before heading to a Chamber member patio, ensure they are open by visiting the Chamber Member Service Update page or by contacting them directly.

Take a photo of yourself completing the Patio Checklist, and tag us with @victoriachamber and #YYJPatioChecklist for a chance to be featured on our social media channels. Stay safe and support local this season.
Getting you back to business
Have your questions answered by industry experts
Join Chamber CEO Bruce Williams, along with Matthew Hohnsbehn, Liaison Officer at the Canada Revenue Agency, and Kris Wirk, Partner at Dusanj & Wirk Chartered Professional Accountants, as they break down how businesses can take advantage of this program and avoid any pitfalls.
Highlight your business

We're better together. At this free event for members-only, share wins and challenges and connect with business professionals at our joint Chamber and Prodigy Group Member Networking Breakfast.

Highlight your business in a 60-second elevator pitch. Hosted on Zoom, participants will have the opportunity to connect in small breakout rooms.

Each breakout room will last 10 minutes with a total of three switches during the one-hour event — that's more than 15 possible connections!
Spread the love! Pick up coffee or some baked goods before the breakfast to support a fellow Chamber Member.
Thurs., Aug. 13 | 8-9am
Chamber job board
If you're an employer looking for your next great hire, make sure to post your career opportunities on the Chamber job board.

The job board is an exclusive benefit of Chamber membership.

If you have any difficulty posting, please email We will get back to you within one business day. We know how important hiring the right person can be.

All jobs posted to our job board have been vetted by a member of The Chamber team.
Current Job Listings:
Make sure to focus on your health this summer
This summer, ensure you take care of your physical, mental, social and nutritional health as we enjoy warmer weather. For the month of August, The Chamber will be suggesting ways to take healthier steps during a truly unique summer.

As one of Canada’s fittest cities, Greater Victoria is known for its beautiful trails, expansive bike lane network and many waterways. Take care of your physical health by staying active through the help of a Chamber member.

Many gyms and fitness facilities are re-opening, or offering virtual workout options. Be sure to lace up a new pair of shoes and pick up sports equipment at a local retailer to enjoy activity with others in your bubble.

You can also explore Greater Victoria while staying fit by purchasing a new e-bike from a local retailer. Rebates are available for this fun and active mode of transportation.

Whether you’re swinging between the trees at WildPlay Element Parks or jumping for joy at Flying Squirrel Victoria, be sure you monitor your health and stay home if you feel ill. Follow provincial health guidelines and utilize Teladoc Telemedicine Services if you require a doctor, an exclusive benefit of Chamber’s Plan
Members Around Town
Making a meal of learning

The City of Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is hosting Feast at Home, an exciting way to learn new recipes and teach children cooking techniques. You can also enter to win one of 10 beautiful picnic baskets.

The month-long event includes an evening with a celebrity chef on Aug. 22, where you can purchase a complete ingredient kit to make your meal alongside Dan Hayes.

City of Langford: member since 2019
Book lovers appreciation

The Times Colonist’s annual book drive has some extra help this year from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and Russell Books.

On Saturday, drop off good books you want to donate at the Breakwater District at Ogden Point between 9 am and 3 pm. Russell Books will then sort and organize donations, and has agreed to buy the books to help support the Times Colonist Literacy Society.

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority: member since 2003
Russell Books: member since 1999
Times Colonist: member since 1961
Award-winning Innovation

VIATEC has received a TECNA Innovation Award for their thorough and timely distribution of a COVID-19 action plan.

VIATEC released a free Back to The Office Toolkit for employers, and they conducted a detailed survey to discover how Greater Victoria’s tech sector is responding to the pandemic.
VIATEC: member since 1991
An Empress-worthy picnic

Relax on the lawn at the Fairmont Empress this summer with a luxury picnic lunch. With such treats as watermelon salad and Saanich strawberries, you and up to six guests can enjoy delicious food while overlooking the inner harbour.
Fairmont Empress: member since 1962
Feeling cheesy?

From Aug. 8 to Sept. 8, support local restaurants and Our Place Society through Hungry Hearts 2020. Vote for your favorite Mac and Cheese dish at participating restaurants.
The winner will be announced during the Virtual Hungry Hearts Gala on Sept. 12.

Participating Chamber members include:

10 Acres Bistro: member since 2003

Aura Restaurant (Inn at Laurel Point): member since 1991

Chuck’s Burger Bar: member since 2019

Courtney Room (Magnolia Hotel & Spa): member since 1998

Il Covo Trattoria: member since 2017

Irish Times Pub: member since 2003

Our Place Society: member since 2010
Best of the City

The 2020 Best of The City Awards have been announced. The 26th annual awards, hosted by Black Press, features 143 categories of business excellence. Not surprisingly, many Chamber members were chosen as the Best of the City.
Black Press: member since 1987
Welcome to our newest members!
Is your business implementing new strategies or innovative ways of connecting with consumers?