Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed)

Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed)

COLUMN: Good business key to a great community: The Chamber

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt shares her thoughts on 2019

In 2019, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce embraced a new mission statement that helped define our approach to advocacy.

Our Board of Directors chose “Working together to build good business and great community.” There’s a lot going on in this phrase. The Chamber, as many people know, is the first choice for people looking to make business connections. Our many types of events allow our members — whether they’re from the private, public or non-profit sector — to meet others looking to work together. Doing so let’s them build good business — in more ways than one. When an organization is successful, it’s doing “good business.” But it’s equally important for our members to be a positive force in the world, to be “a good business.”

If we can do these things, everyone in our community benefits and we will have a “great community.”

So how does that translate to our advocacy efforts? Let’s look at the issue we hear about most often from members. Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate continues to be among the lowest in Canada. Our region’s employers, regardless of size, are struggling to find and keep workers due largely to the high cost of living in our region.

The Chamber took a multi-faceted approach to this issue. We have called for all levels of government to make workforce housing more accessible. This requires regulations that encourage builders to add to our supply of market housing, and for them to be creative in how they include lower cost housing in the mix. It also means we need public investment in non-market housing. We need homes that workers can afford, and for many this means rent that is tied to their income rather than market priced.

After housing, child care is the largest expense for working families. The Chamber applauded the provincial government for investing in 22,000 licensed child care spaces in the province. The Chamber has called on the province to deliver universal child care to ensure working parents can fully participate in the labour market. Again, we were happy when the province announced a pilot program to test $10-per-day child care at 50 sites.

Transportation planning is also key to affordability. The Chamber was one of the most vocal voices that led to the province’s work on a South Island Transportation Plan. We have 13 municipalities in Greater Victoria. We need to think regionally about transportation to make sure commuters can get to work quickly, and are not slowed down when crossing arbitrary municipal borders. Riding the bus needs to be convenient, reliable and fast across the region. And we need active transportation networks, such as bike lanes, that connect communities in the most efficient manner possible.

Other advocacy priorities, which we will continue working on in 2020, include safe communities — we need solutions for our homeless, adequately funded policing and enforcement of laws and bylaws and access to health care. The Chamber will also continue advocating for better regional services. Voters in Saanich and Victoria have mandated a Citizens’ Assembly, and we think this is great start to combining the best qualities of these two great communities. We also track how municipalities collect property taxes to make sure they’re fair to business, and we support innovations led by business to help find climate change solutions. All of these are ways Chamber members are “working together to build good business and great community.” We hope you join us!

Catherine Holt is the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BusinessChristmasCity of VictoriaFinance

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Greater Victoria teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

One year in, teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressure from families

Richard Pierce is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Unsung Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Navy veteran helping others cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

Rich Pearce is the West Shore 2021 Unsung Hero

The value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020 (Peninsula News Review)
Value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020

New figures also show 25 per cent increase in number of new secondary suites

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Most Read