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

UPDATE: Island Health says no need for alarm over needle prick incidents in Victoria

Briefing followed meeting between Island Health, downtown service providers

Victoria a hot spot for millennials: new study

City ranks No. 2 for generation of Canadians seeking work-life balance

Rumble in the Vale: Strawberry Vale homeowners hang banner protesting construction noise, rumbling

Banner reading ‘Do you hear what we hear?’ hangs over Colwood Crawl

Central Saanich police chase down speeding biker

A motorcyclist from the Lower Mainland was caught on the Tsawout reserve… Continue reading

False missile alert for Central Saanich councillor

While on vacation in Hawaii, Central Saanich Councillor Alicia Holman was awoken… Continue reading

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Saanich lights up Layritz Park with solar-powered lights

Saanich plans to install more solar-powered lights after installing them in Layritz… Continue reading

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Victoria real estate sales off to slow start

New figures show regional real estate sales are off to a slow… Continue reading

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Most Read