Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
June 10, 2020
So I don’t have to say good-bye to you — the many, many members who I have come to know and admire, especially as we have navigated these last few months together. At the top of that list are the board chairs I have worked with: Al Hasham, Dan Dagg and John Wilson.

And it would be especially painful to say good-bye to our small but mighty staff. We have just come through what is probably the ultimate test of how to reinvent ourselves to serve our members when they need us most. It has bonded us.

They are: Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman – Chamber backbone; Christine Lewis – events wizard; Jim Zeeben – information machine; Stef Cara – membership magician; Carmen Lundstrom – data genius; Thomas Zeran – marketing whiz; Kiera Dorman – incredible designer; Robyn Copp – office ambassador; and Wendy Polsson – numbers guru.

The most important thing about The Chamber, and the thing that will see us survive and eventually thrive despite this challenging time, is our culture. Everyone knows culture makes or breaks an organization. The Chamber’s culture comes from this close-knit town, our long history and our current members and staff. It’s an admirable mix of hard work, embracing change, standing up for what matters, helping each other, doing what we can for the community and — not to be forgotten — having a hell of a good time.

The Chamber lives its mission: working together to build good business and great community.

I have been very proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to be your CEO.
Journalism needed to keep unfounded fear in check
In a time of unprecedented uncertainty, we can't let the fear of COVID-19 become a bigger threat than the disease itself.

That's why it's so important to have reliable sources of information from journalists who know — and care — about their community.

On today's Fireside Chat, Chamber CEO Catherine Holt spoke with Dave Obee, the Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Times Colonist.

The fascinating conversation looks at the early impacts of the pandemic, how it has affected so much of our lives and what we need to do to restore confidence in an economy battered by this health crisis.
Times Colonist: Member since 1961
Return of office workers key to restarting downtown
Greater Victoria has turned a corner in our fight to get through the COVID-19 crisis, but there is still plenty of work to do.

With zero prospects of international travel returning this summer, business in our region — especially downtown Victoria — need local support. Specifically, they need workers who can safely return to their offices to get back to their pre-pandemic routines.

Our economy has always benefited from the stability of a large public sector. Many businesses cater to these workers by providing lunch or retail therapy. Having reliable patrons helps these businesses survive the ups and downs of tourism seasons. However, with many organizations allowing workers to stay home — even though the Provincial Health Officer has said they can safely return to work — downtown businesses are facing a crisis. The situation will only get more dire as government relief programs begin to wind up.

The Chamber urges employers and employers who have been able to continue working through the pandemic to make the choice to go back to your office.

Along with the Downtown Victoria Business Association and the City of Victoria, we have co-authored a letter to Victoria MLA Carole James asking her to get this vital message through to government ministries with downtown offices.

We truly are all in this together, and public sector workers have a critical role to play in restarting our economy.
Downtown Victoria Business Association: Member since 2007
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
City needs to adjust plan for closing Government St.
The City of Victoria is moving quickly to help businesses struggling to make it through the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

The recently unveiled Build Back Victoria plan includes shutting down Government Street between Humboldt and Yates streets.

The initiative aims to make the area more accessible for pedestrians and provide more space for businesses to abide by physical-distancing guidelines.

The Chamber applauds the city for working at a much faster pace than it typically does, and we are encouraged that council is open to adjusting measures as unintended problems arise. One concern voiced by businesses on Government Street, as well as delivery drivers, is that closing the thoroughfare makes it difficult to bring inventory to shops. One solution would be to allow for storefront deliveries during set hours each day.

“It would be a benefit for businesses in this area if we could get delivery between 7 and 11 am every morning,” says Sarah Frye, comptroller for Munro’s Books, located at 1108 Government St.
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
Munro's Books: Member since 1978
Langford making big moves to get back to business
Next week, the City of Langford is preparing to launch a business recovery marketing program. Langford has already made news for courting the film industry by offering unused arenas for use as temporary movie studios.

The West Shore municipality could also find itself the centre of the Canadian soccer universe. The Canadian Premier League, which includes Langford-based Pacific FC, is expected to decide soon on a host city for its 2020 season.

On June 5, City Centre Park re-opened Langford Lanes and Westhills Arena, as well as mini golf and City Centre Grille.
City of Langford: Member since 2019
Pacific FC: Member since 2019
Saanich releases plan to restart municipal services
The District of Saanich has a plan to re-open more of the services it provides.

On June 1, Saanich council endorsed a framework for restart report that will prioritize the health and safety of staff and residents.

"Saanich’s restart will not look the same as other communities," said a statement from Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes. "Municipalities across the region, and the province, approached closures and service interruptions differently, so our restart plans won’t look the same either."
District of Saanich: Member since 2019
Rental housing included in plan for Saanich mall site
A proposal to add 600 rental units to one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Greater Victoria is welcome news for our region.

Wesbild, which owns University Heights Shopping Centre in Gordon Head, has submitted a proposal to the District of Saanich to re-develop the property.

The plan calls for five six-storey buildings that would include ground floor commercial space, an expansive daycare, sustainable transportation options and a dog park as well as rental units that range from 315 square-feet to three-bedrooms.
Wesbild: Member since 2018
District of Saanich: Member since 2019
Chamber welcomes new CEO of Our Place Society
The Chamber extends a warm welcome to the new CEO of Our Place Society, Julian Day.

Day comes to Victoria after 11 years at Edmonton's Boyle Street Community Services. The organization is the largest of its kind in the Alberta capital.

“I am particularly looking forward to engaging and meeting with colleagues and forging, out of these uncertain times, our shared future together, and continuing the extraordinary work of service to Victoria's most marginalized citizens,” Day said in a news release.

The Chamber looks forward to continuing the outstanding relationship with Our Place Society, and the work it does to keep our community safe.
Our Place Society: Member since 2010
New hotel proposed for historic Wharf Street site
A proposal to turn a Victoria landmark into a new boutique hotel is a sign of confidence that tourism will once again flourish after travel restrictions are lifted.

The Salient Group has applied to the City of Victoria to revitalize and upgrade the heritage building at 1244 Wharf St.

The 120-year-old building, located on the harbour at the foot of Yates Street, is currently underutilized — especially as it sits on high-profile property in the heart of the Old Town district.

With so much uncertainty caused by COVID-19, it's heartening to see interest in investing in the future of tourism in Victoria. Before the pandemic, The Chamber supported plans for additional hotel rooms downtown. Through these trying times, it's vital we continue to encourage investment in this sector.
City of Victoria: Member since 1962
The Salient Group: Member since 2017
Uber Eats says Greater Victoria among top tippers
Greater Victoria is known for being a generous community, and further evidence comes from Uber's meal delivery service.

Our region is behind only Quebec City for the title of Canada's most magnanimous tippers, according to Uber Eats. Canadians, as a whole, have been tipping 55 per higher than we did before March 9.
Uber Canada: Member since 2019
Your virtual doctor
During these uncertain times, being able to receive non-urgent medical assistance is as important as ever. Thanks to Teladoc Telemedicine Services, an exclusive benefit of Chambers Group Insurance, you can speak with a doctor without ever leaving your home.

Members can receive a diagnosis, treatment recommendation, and even be prescribed medicine when necessary. You can consult a physician about non-urgent medical matters by video conference or by phone, from wherever you are, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
When a Chamber staff member utilized this benefit, they were happy to share their positive experience:

"Within an hour of downloading the app, I was able to meet with a doctor and have a prescription ready for me at my local pharmacy.

"After downloading the Teladoc app, and inputting my medical history, I was able to schedule an appointment with a certified Canadian doctor. I uploaded photos for the consultation directly through the app, and after speaking to my doctor, and receiving a diagnosis, my prescription was sent directly to my local pharmacy, with notes of my visit added to my profile in the app, including instructions for medication and follow up procedures.

"Being sick, there is nothing worse than sitting in a waiting room for hours on end. This process was fast and simple and I would highly recommend it to anyone."

Chambers Plan offers the Teladoc Telemedicine service  at no additional charge  to all plan members and their dependents. With the Chambers Group Insurance plan, you can customize an employee benefits plan that meets your needs.
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  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 Events
Join us for a virtual tailgate party and support the Victoria HarbourCats !

Attendees are encouraged to wear a Victoria HarbourCats hat while they network. If you don't already have one you can click  here  to gets yours before the event.

After the mixer, grab some takeout from one of our awesome local  restaurants  and watch a replay of a July 2018 game against the Corvallis Knights. 
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're already starting to see a change in the jobs offered as BC gets back to work. As of June 15th, we look forward to returning to the Job Board being 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.
Members Around Town
Our Community United

Team Sales Vancouver Island has launched the “ Our Community United” project, an initiative to support local businesses and local charities through the sale of T-shirts. Many Chamber members are involved in this campaign, including Dodd’s Furniture & Mattress, Frontrunners Footwear, Russell Books, Wilson’s Group of Companies and Max Furniture. Proceeds from the shirts will go to organizations such as the Victoria Literacy Connection Society, the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and Lifetime Networks.
Team Sales Vancouver Island: member since 1991
Dodd's Furniture & Mattress: member since 2002
Frontrunners Footwear: member since 2002
Russel Books: member since 1999
Wilson’s Group of Companies: member since 2004
Max Furniture: member since 2008
Victoria Literacy Connection Society: member since 2018
BC Children’s Hospital Foundation: member since 2016
Lifetime Networks: member since 2013
Finding fun downtown Victoria

The Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) is hosting a self-guided/socially distanced scavenger hunt across downtown Victoria. On June 18, you and your team can explore three construction sites with plenty of tasks to accomplish. Register for this unique and exciting event here.
The Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA): member since 1986
Time to Talk Travel

Departures Travel is hosting a virtual travel talk series: The Departures Lounge. Speakers include representatives from the cruise, airline and private travel industry, including Madone Pelan, GM of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. The event takes place June 11, 4-7 pm, on Facebook.

Departures Travel and Niche Travel Inc: member since 2013

Oak Bay Beach Hotel: member since 2011
Jump for Joy

Flying Squirrel Victoria has unveiled its rope course, adding a new dimension for thrillseekers. The course hangs above the facility and offers numerous fun and challenging sections. Flying Squirrel Victoria is also giving away a free year of passes to a lucky participant through its Instagram page.

Flying Squirrel Victoria: member since 2018
Let’s Par-Tee

Iron & Wood Golf Simulators, offering private simulations of more than 84 championship golf courses, has officially opened its doors to customers. The organization offers climate-controlled private rooms, which include state-of-the-art golfing experiences, as well as multi-sport options from hockey to baseball. PGA professional golf lessons are also available.

Iron & Wood Golf Simulators: member since 2020
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