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Family businesses cover wide economic scope

Of 4,500 businesses registered in Saanich a substantial number are family owned and operated
Members of the South Island Prosperity Project

As a member of Saanich council, I am delighted to see this recognition of family businesses in our municipality. Of 4,500 businesses registered in Saanich a substantial number are family owned and operated. These family businesses cover a wide economic scope and bring considerable benefits to our communities and economy.

Ranging in size from two- to four-person enterprises to those with 200 employees, they vary considerably in industry type. They include transportation, grocery and convenience stores, accommodation, gas stations, personal grooming, professional services, pet services, medical and dental practices and more. Many of the restaurants, cafés, bakeries, retail stores, arts and craft stores and farms we enjoy in Saanich are family owned.

Most of us will know someone who is either employed by a family business or is a member of a family that runs a business. Some such businesses have sprung from the unique entrepreneurial dreams of individual family members. Others have arrived through franchising, or purchasing an existing business. As well as providing goods and services, they supply local jobs and incomes. Linked to the community, they are often generous donors to our local teams, causes and events.

The commercial marketplace of any business brings both opportunities and demands. The financial bottom line needs to be covered. Staff salaries, suppliers, rentals costs and taxes must be paid. Customers need to be satisfied, to return and to spread the good word. However, running a family business brings its own challenges that involve some unique perspectives of working with other family members. Especially for the younger generation, questions on what it is like to work with your mother, father, uncle, sisters and brothers need to be addressed. As well, what is the appropriate succession plan?

Family businesses can provide exceptional opportunities for younger family members to gain workplace experience. Some 30 per cent of family businesses are passed successfully to the next generation, and 10 per cent to the third. To some this indicates a low success rate for succession. This perspective can be misleading. Much depends on the desire of younger generations to continue a business; the founders exit strategy, as well as advances in technology and trends that change the marketplace. In contrast, 90 per cent of startup business may not succeed past the first year. Plus, as educators and families know, the new generation can be more intrigued by careers charmingly different to those chosen by their parents.

Recognizing the unique challenges of family businesses in our region, the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise has transitioned its local chapter to the Family Business Association – Vancouver Island. The association brings resources that help build on the value and success of locally grown family businesses.

As a councillor, I believe our municipality has a role in creating an environment for economic vitality. This is done though our land use policies. Greater residential and commercial density is seen in specific locations. Hence, our villages and corridors help provide the customer density businesses need. It includes the good roads and infrastructure your municipal taxes enable us to maintain.

In addition, the municipality needs a supply of workplace and family housing, both rental and marketplace, which is diverse and affordable. Saanich has also stepped up as a full funding partner for the South Island Prosperity Project, which is tasked with building the economic base in Saanich and the region. As the chair of our Planning Transportation and Economic Development Advisory Committee and council’s liaison to SIPP I am privileged to work with my council colleagues on these initiatives.


Fred Haynes is a councillor with the District of Saanich.