Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, says her organization will continue to advocate for more child care, affordable housing and improved transportation in 2018. Photo by Jason Spencer

How will business in Victoria fare in 2018?

Greater Victoria Chamber CEO Catherine Holt notes a few trends to keep an eye on

When it comes to B.C. business, the health of Alberta’s economy is one of the horses to watch in 2018, said Catherine Holt, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO.

Noting the economic trends between the provinces, whereby their loss is our gain, Alberta’s ongoing recovery could further dry up an already thinning pool of employees here, especially in construction, the trades and tech.

“[A]s Alberta’s economy is doing better, we’re going to see less interest in Alberta workers moving to Victoria. We may even see the reverse start to happen – Victoria workers moving to Alberta,” said Holt.

At this time, she said, one of the glaring problems nipping at the ankles of local businesses is attracting and retaining workers. Despite Victoria’s shimmering unemployment rate of 3.3 per cent in November, that challenge is occurring irrespective of company size.

Holt has heard a lot of anecdotal evidence about the shortage from Chamber members, some 80 per cent of whom operate small businesses. She suspects retiring baby boomers have created the groundswell of job openings. Construction was an area of high demand for workers in 2017.

Aside from bringing in Albertan workers, Holt said more international immigration could help offset the employee shortfall.

And most small businesses, she said, are not in a position to pay high salaries, so employers are coming up with “creative methods” to address retention, including flexible schedules to accommodate childcare requirements.

It might not appear to be an employment issue at first glance, but childcare is one of three main areas the Chamber will continue to advocate for in 2018. Holt said there have been some inroads with regards to the province making childcare more affordable for parents who could be working.

A promising sign is a recent provincial announcement to invest in building more childcare spaces, Holt said, noting there’s also hope that the government’s $10-a-day childcare plan will come to fruition.

Another area the Chamber is looking to advocate for is housing. Specifically, Holt said, provincial funds to build affordable housing for University of Victoria students, which could, in turn, free-up rentals for lower-wage workers.

“UVic estimates that there’s at least 10,000 rental units in the market that are occupied by students, usually sharing – so that’s 20,000 students who are renting in the region,” she said.

Transportation is the third pillar in the Chamber’s 2018 advocacy plan. It’s an area Holt, who was recently named chair of BC Transit’s board of directors, is passionate about. She asserted that her roles at the Chamber and BC Transit are separate, however, the board of the Chamber does support improvements to public transit to get workers moving.

One immediate transportation need, for instance, would be dedicated bus lanes from the city to the West Shore and back, she noted.

Success this past year was seen in tourism, tech and retail, despite the trend of online shopping, Holt said, noting that most early forecasts predict moderate growth for BC’s economy in 2018.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Officials worry of fire risk at homeless camp

Regina Park camp has grown to 77 tents

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of Victoria couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

BC Supreme Court rules in favour of Victoria’s plastic bag ban

Court dismisses a challenge by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association

More than 150 tremors hit Vancouver Island in last 24 hours

Seismologists monitor to see if pressure will be added to major fault

Crews search for missing kayaker near Sooke

The person was seen launching their kayak from Beecher Bay on Monday at noon

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Mosquitoes out in full force already? Blame the weather

But a B.C. mosquito expert says the heat wave will help keep the pests at bay

New GOP plan: Hold kids longer at border – but with parents

Move would ease rules that limit how much time minors can be held with their parents

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 19

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

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Police find capsized boat near Tofino, 3 men still missing

Five men were aboard the boat when it sank off Vancouver Island early Monday morning

Drive-thru voting in Saanich crashes over environmental concerns

Environmental concerns over climate change could stall drive-thru voting in Saanich. Angila… Continue reading

Most Read