Catherine Holt of The Chamber, Samantha Wilson of BC Ferries Connector part of the Wilson's Group of Companies, Mark Collins of BC Ferries, Sage Berryman of Point Hope Maritime, a Ralmax Company and Dan Dagg of The Chamber 
BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins addressed a sold-out crowd today at The Chamber's Business Leaders Luncheon sponsored by BC Ferries Connector and Point Hope Maritime, a Ralmax Company. Read the highlights from the event here and see the photos here.  
Bus-lane project for Greater Victoria continues with federal funding
A southbound bus-only lane from the Burnside bridge to Tolmie Avenue on Highway 1 in Saanich is the latest part of transit improvements for Greater Victoria's increasingly congested highways.
The new lane establishes a system of continuous bus lanes in both directions between the Mackenzie interchange and downtown Victoria.
Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of public services, announced Ottawa's share of the financing at the BC legislature Wednesday. The $4.9 million federal share combines with the $11 million provincial share for the southbound lane project, matching the northbound lane completed in December.
Susan Brice, chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, said the ongoing improvements have already made riding the bus more attractive as transit is moving faster than the often-clogged car traffic entering the city from the north.
Chamber News
Business Leaders Luncheons
Prodigy Group March Mingle
2019 Marketplace Mixer
Business Awards
Event Photos
Upcoming Chamber Events

Opportunities abound, BC Ferries CEO saysferries
BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins told the sold-out crowd at today's Business Leaders Luncheon that there is potential for ferries to do much more to help move people around our region.
Collins spoke about innovations at BC Ferries that have helped it consistently rank among the top five ferry systems in the world.
BC Ferries has been working with the private sector to study the feasibility of operating a commuter ferry between Colwood and downtown Victoria and/or CFB Esquimalt. The study will be available for local politicians to review soon, but Collins says the price tag would be about $100 million. Compared to the $85 million to build just the McKenzie Interchange, a ferry would be exceptionally cost effective, Collins said.
Collins also addressed questions about why it makes sense to look to international shipyards to build ships. "It's very expensive to build locally," he said, explaining that the increased costs would increase fares by 25%. He suggested the way to develop a local shipbuilding industry is to focus on productivity rather than one-off builds for the ferry system. European yards are more competitive because they are constantly working on vessels for many different clients.
When asked about comments made by BC Premier John Horgan at a Chamber Business Leaders Luncheon last week, Collins said anyone who compares BC Ferries to a cruise ship probably hasn't been on a cruise lately.
"The frills pay the bills," he said, countering the idea that BC Ferries is overly focused on providing expensive food and services. The fact is that discretionary spending by travellers helps cover the cost of sailing.  
Collins told the audience that BC Ferries is at the forefront of environmental sustainability. "You would be hard pressed to find another ferry system as clean operating as we are," he said.
BC Ferries is also a world leader when it comes to reducing noise that disturbs marine animals. Collins said the Salish Sea is an international "hot spot" for innovations because of ongoing efforts to protect southern resident killer whales (SRKW).
"We know we can make the biggest difference to the whales," Collins said, adding that BC ferries is one of the only fleets with a focus on noise reduction. "It's not even on the sonar of other fleets."
To learn more about efforts to protect SRKWs, make sure to book your tickets to the Business Leaders Luncheon: Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard on Mar. 15.
BC Ferries: member since 1983 
How can Canada protect vital ocean industries and our marine environment?

Hear from Federal Minister Jonathan Wilkinson about Canada's future plans for critical fishing habitats, orca conservation and support for industry.
Sponsored by:
New date! Only 10 tickets left. 
Friday, March 15 | 11:30 am-1 pm     
Hotel Grand Pacific
463 Belleville St.

Business property taxes shouldn't be a shell game
Rising commercial property values are adding another variable to the role municipal councils have in setting property tax rates. The Chamber advocates for tax fairness and has been working to shine a light on the higher property tax rates all 13 Greater Victoria municipalities charge businesses compared to residents.
Local governments set their annual budgets by determining how much they need to spend to deliver services to their citizens. After accounting for revenue from sources such as user fees, municipalities use property taxes to generate most of the cash needed to ensure they can balance their budgets.
The two largest classes of properties are residential and business (commercial). Councils must balance the need to keep taxes affordable for citizens with the need to encourage investment and commercial development by not overburdening businesses.
What The Chamber has noticed is a trend in recent years for municipalities to minimize increases to residents by offloading increasing costs to businesses. This was evident in rising tax multiples - for example, in 2016, Victoria charged businesses a tax rate that was 3.1 times the rate charged to residents. This multiple increased to 3.4 in 2017 and 3.5 in 2018. In Saanich, the multiple has climbed from 3.5 in 2016 to 3.9 in 2017 and 4.3 last year.
The impact of a rising multiple has been amplified in the last few years with residential property values soaring while business property values trailed behind.
This year, the opposite has occurred in a number of BC jurisdictions causing a backlash against BC Assessment, which determines the annual value of all properties in the province.
In Saanich, for example, residential properties have increased by an average of 10% while business properties have jumped by an average of 20%.
This means that even though municipalities show a decrease to their multiple, the actual tax bill facing businesses will still be going up.
Greater Victoria municipalities are in the midst of finalizing their budgets, and must adopt a final budget by May 15. The Chamber will continue to track tax rates and urges all councils to consider the actual bill they will burden businesses with before setting their budgets.
2017 Property Tax Rate Analysis - A Survey and Review of Commercial and Residential Property Tax Mill Rates in Metro Vancouver including Victoria and Saanich, BC  
Flower count
The 44th Annual Greater Victoria Flower Count starts  today and runs until Mar. 14. Started in 1976 by The Chamber as a light-hearted event to promote the beauty and colour of our region, it is now organized along with The Butchart Gardens and Destination Greater Victoria.
Not sure just how many blooms your large heather bush and small cherry tree carry? Never fear, there is a formula for that. Today a wide variety of community leaders support this tradition of showing our civic pride.   
Watch CHEK's video about the launch here.   

The Butchart Gardens: member since 1976

Destination Greater Victoria: member since 1988
Members Around Town
Accent Inns wins award
Accent Inns won the 2019 Employees First Award, presented at the BC Tourism Industry Conference Gala. Taking feedback from their employees, in 2018 Accent Inns rolled out a new onboarding and training program to welcome their employees under both their brands: Accent Inns and Hotel Zed. The "Welcome to Hotel Awesomeness Training," or "WHAT?," provides new staff with branded gifts tied to the company's four core values and sets them up for success with check-ins at 30, 60, and 90 days.
Accent Inns | Hotel Zed: member since 1992
Ideafest is the University of Victoria's week-long festival of research, art and innovation. Browse the 2019 schedule to discover 40 events on campus that run until Mar. 9. All events are free and open to the public, with no registration required unless otherwise specified. 
 University of Victoria: member since 1976 
Malahat Skywalk announced 
Malahat Nation and A.Spire by Nature are collaborating  on a tourist attraction called the Malahat Skywalk. It will be a 650m elevated wooden pathway through an Arbutus forest leading to an accessible spiral ramp climbing up to a 40m high sightseeing lookout. Visitors will witness magnificent views of the Finlayson Arm and distant coastal mountains. T he proposed attraction is situated on the traditional territory of the Malahat Nation and the goal is to start construction in the fall with a proposed opening in June of 2020.  
Malahat Nation: member since 2019 
The Inclusion Project  
Royal Roads University is hosting The Inclusion Project on Mar. 30. It will engage all stakeholders in critical conversations about diversity, equity and inclusiveness across civil society, and public and private sectors. The project will cast a global lens on local issues and address the challenges faced by newcomers - immigrants, refugees and international students.  
Royal Roads University: member since 1996   
HarbourCats new coach  
Todd Haney has been appointed the new Head Coach of the Victoria HarbourCats . Haney served as associate coach with the HarbourCats in 2018, when the team missed the playoffs by one game. Haney has extensive coaching experience leading the Waco Storm program, an elite travel team in Texas and he is currently Director of Player Development at Texas State.
  Victoria HarbourCats: member since 2012
Network with over 300 people and meet over 50 businesses who will be showcasing their services and products. We have some amazing door prizes from ski tickets to whale watching.
Sponsored by:
Thu, Mar 21 | 4-7 pm
Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa
100 Harbour Rd.

Victoria seeks to hire 34; province orders city to add 6 officers
Victoria City Council has tough decisions to make before the municipality must submit a final budget on May 15.
A combination of audacious plans for spending and unexpected expenses are forcing council to rethink how it will balance its budget. Municipalities are not allowed to run deficits.
On Feb. 27, the provincial Police Services Division told Esquimalt and Victoria that they needed to hire six new officers to meet the 2018 request from the Victoria Police Department.  
The request was vetoed by Esquimalt last year, which refused to pay its share - $40,778 - to hire the six officers, even though Victoria had agreed to cover its $428,000 share.
However, despite the order from the province, VicPD's Police Chief Del Manak might still need to cut staff after Victoria council rejected the Victoria Police Board's initial budget request this year.
Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt asked if the city could dip into surpluses or new revenues, but was told by staff that council has already allocated all of the city's extra money.
A week earlier, council voted to hire 34.5 full-time employees at a cost of about $3.5 million, including $125,000 for office equipment.  
Celebrate Success
Congratulations to all the finalists for the 2019 Greater Victoria Business Awards!
See the complete list here.  
From start-ups to local legends, the awards shine a light on hard-working businesses, business people and community leaders in 14 categories worth celebrating. Finalists were chosen by an independent panel of prominent business leaders who served as judges.
Thu, May 16 | 6-10 pm
The Fairmont Empress , 721 Government St.
A limited number of tickets are now on sale for this event. To register please call our office at 250-383-7191. Please note there is a maximum of 4 tickets per registration.
 Sponsored by: 

Spring forward to Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 10 at 3 am. The switching between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time always ruffles some feathers with many people saying they want to keep  Daylight Saving Time year round, so it'll be darker in the mornings, but lighter in the afternoon/evenings.
The BC Chamber of Commerce has an active policy advocating for year round DST. Their reasoning is it would reduce related workplace accidents, sleep deprivation, heart attacks, traffic accidents and boost tourism.
Collaborating on transportation
The South Island Prosperity Project (SIPP) has teamed up with Camosun College to create and deliver new transportation options for First Nations communities on Southern Vancouver Island. The initiative, currently dubbed the 'Indigenous Microtransit Pilot', began as part of SIPP's federal Smart Cities Challenge application.
Bruce Williams, SIPP Interim CEO, spoke to the importance of the initiative and its potential to make a positive difference in the region. "There are ten First Nation communities and 17,245 Indigenous people on South Vancouver Island. Only two of the ten communities are in any reasonable proximity to access to education and career opportunities off-reserve. The other eight are rural, remote, and not well-served by transit. There is a real need for improvement for reasons including safety, access to healthcare and education, and engagement with our shared economy. SIPP is proud to partner with Camosun College to help improve connectivity for these underserved areas."
Camosun College will recruit and employ a co-operative education student to assist in the development of the plan. 
Growing into a new name 
On Apr. 1 the South Island Prosperity Project will officially become the South Island Prosperity Partnership, as the organization has evolved beyond simply being a 'project.' The new name highlights how partnerships and collaboration are fundamental to everything SIPP does.  
  South Island Prosperity Project: member since 2017
Camosun College: member since 1981  
Insurance Reassurance

As a small business owner, sometimes it feels like you have to do it all. Making sure your business and staff are taken care of is no easy task especially when everyone's health and wellness directly affects the success of your business. On top of this, it can be stressful when unexpected problems come up that require an expert opinion - HR, accounting, legal, etc.

The good news is that The Chamber's Group Insurance plan, administered locally by Jack Insurance and Financial Services, looks after both sides of your business. It goes well beyond just providing you with health and dental coverage plans and includes a free "visit" to Business Assistance Service (BAS).

This confidential service provides access to up to six hours of professional accounting, counseling, legal or human resource advice by experts who understand the difficulties small business owners face. So when you have a challenging situation, you have somewhere to turn for support.

Keep your most important asset, your people, healthy and well taken care of with the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan - the most popular employee benefits plan in Canada for small business. For more info or to register your business, call 250-383-9866 or email Rob Jack.

Jack Insurance and Financial Services: Member since 1998
Welcome to Our Newest Members!

Member to Member Deals

Want your company's special offer to appear here? Send us an email!