Where to now

And the award for Ultimate Disruptor goes to: Covid-19 – the game changing virus! 

As its effects began to be felt in our part of the world, we determined our organizational resources should be focused on supporting the entire business community, members or not. The slogan “a rising tide lifts all boats” was appropriately coined by a chamber of commerce and that sentiment seems to fit scenarios like this, and our marine environment, perfectly. People were looking to us to solve problems. Initially we were fielding many questions, and had precious few answers. There were many days we went home feeling the weight of this community’s economic survival on our shoulders. 

As time went on, we were no less busy, but became more comfortable in our role as a champion for our community, as a conduit for current and correct information, and as a catalyst for business change and growth. 

Now that we are all more knowledgeable about the changes Covid-19 has wrought in every aspect of our lives, our board and staff are considering how our organization will adapt. This wholesale examination of purpose and the value we bring to members will be conducted in consultation with our members. Initially, business owners were concerned about surviving the pandemic but the rude nudge prompted many of them to examine their operations critically and they made changes that have increased profitability. The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce turned 108 this year and you can rest assured we will make adjustments so we can continue to provide comprehensive value to members well into the future. 

What we discovered in the compulsory crash course in Coronavirus was that we are resilient, we are adaptive, and we are strong. Those who didn’t understand the value of  a chamber of commerce bore witness to our ability to mobilize resources to protect companies so owners could stay focused on keeping their business afloat. 

While our neighbours to the east and south have been dealing with instability and uncertainty, we had steady hands at the helm in our community, province, and our country. I could not be more proud of the work our chamber network has done in the last few months and of my colleagues across the Saanich Peninsula who work, arm in arm, with the rising  tide, to lift all boats.     

Denny Warner,
Executive Director



Media Release – From Farm to Flask







For Immediate Release
August 12, 2020

From Farm to Flask

(North Saanich, B.C.) The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is requesting the public contact their Member of Parliament and encourage support for amendments to the excise tax to achieve parity with the small distillers excise agreement enacted in the United States in 2017. 

In Canada currently, there is an escalator tax attached to the excise tax whereby domestic distillers pay $12.610 per litre compared to their counterparts in the U.S. who pay approximately $1.77 per litre.

This tax initiative is supported by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce as well as other chambers across Canada. The craft distilling industry is growing and plays a significant role in our economy. This is a true farm-to-table craft industry attracting residents and tourists to sample and purchase product from their distilleries. “To highlight how much of a driver every community’s local distillery could potentially be; each 200L barrel of Canadian Whisky produced requires 1 ton of local grain grown by local farmers, and every bottle of gin or vodka made requires 20 lbs of locally grown Canadian apples or fruit!”

Given the challenges Covid-19 has saddled business with we feel it is important to examine the barriers to success that can be easily removed. 

Please consider voicing your concern with your Member of Parliament and sign the petition started by Canadian Craft distillers: https://www.change.org/p/bill-morneau-support-excise-parity-for-canadian-craft-distilleries

Media Inquiries:

Denny Warner, Executive Director
Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Kirsten Titcomb
Devine Distillery & Winery

Tyler Dyck, President
Craft Distillers Guild of B.C.









Nominate your favourite business for the 14th Annual Business Excellence Awards

The Show Must Go On! 

If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that our business community is creative, supportive, and resilient.  Now more than any other time, it is vital that we recognize the strength of our community and showcase our mutual success.  

The Saanich Peninsula Business Excellence Awards  has been celebrating business excellence for more than 13 years, and while we may not be able to gather in person, we are so excited to once again host our 14th annual event, on Thursday, November 5th, from 4 to 6 pm live from the Mary Winspear Centre.  

Sheltering in place has given us an opportunity to get creative and this year we will host our annual sold out event ‘VIRTUALLY’, live from the Mary Winspear Centre.  We’ll broadcast the show to your entire team, so gather your colleagues and meet us on the big screen, the  Zoom screen that is, and join your amazing business community at The Ultimate Office party.

Click here to Nominate your favourite Peninsula Business

The deadline to nominate is September 30, 2020 at 10:00 am







VIRL offering online registration and more while branches closed

VIRL offering online card registration and more while branches closed

Friday, March 27, 2020: Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) branches remain closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we still have so much to offer VIRL cardholders across our library system. From existing online resources to new and enhanced offerings, VIRL is committed to offering services, amenities and entertainment to help in these challenging times.

Here are some of newest services and enhancements VIRL has made available:

Online Registration

We are so excited to be able to offer online registration for anyone who wants to take advantage of VIRL’s amazing online resources. A library card is your gateway to ebooks, audiobooks, streaming movies and TV, music, and more.

Sign up here: https://virl.bc.ca/get-help/get-a-card/


VIRL has added unlimited copies of ebooks and audiobooks available on a wide selection of popular titles — no holds, no wait lists.

Here some more examples of exciting online resources at VIRL:


Access to thousands of downloadable audiobooks and magazines.


Lynda.com offers courses with a focus on skills for business, creative industries, education, information technology, software, and web development. The tutorials are high quality and led by industry experts.

Find Lynda.com in our All Databases section.

Press Reader

The world’s largest online newspaper and magazine kiosk, where you can browse and read hundreds of full-content premium newspapers and magazines from around the globe.


This streaming movie service provides unlimited access to award-winning shorts, feature films, and documentaries from major festivals such as Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes.


Teachers and homeschoolers can find free educational ebooks for students from kindergarten to high school. No library card is required to access Tumblebooks.

Kindergarten – elementary
Middle school – high school

Mango Languages

Mango immerses you in real, everyday conversations in 45 different language courses, including Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish.


Access millions of downloadable and streaming music from Freegal Music and the Naxos music library.

“Social distancing can be a lonely experience for our customers, and VIRL staff have been working hard to find new, innovative, and exciting ways to help,” says VIRL’s Executive Director, Rosemary Bonanno. “Your libraries remain as places you can turn to for support, services, and connection. We will continue to innovate in the face of the fluid and unpredictable landscape we find ourselves in as a result of COVID-19.”

We’ve got a lot more to keep you engaged, entertained and informed in these uncertain times. Be sure to follow VIRL on social media, check our website regularly at virl.bc.ca

or sign up for our monthly eNewsletter for tips, tricks, recommendations, and stories from across our system.

We’re here for you, just like always.










We received a very generous donation of tablets from TELUS in response to a request we received from one of our local care facilities that they were in need of devices to facilitate communication between residents and their loved ones. We understood that the necessary restrictions on isolating residents would take a significant toll on their mental wellbeing. We were thrilled to receive a shipment of tablets from Telus we are sharing with care facilities and others who work with clients in their homes throughout the Saanich Peninsula.

We are pleased to be delivering them today, along with the current issue of Seaside Magazine for residents who are in need of reading material.

If your organization would like to share a note of thanks to TELUS on social media (and we hope you do!), please tag @telus and use the hashtag #AllConnectedForGood
The staff at the Town of Sidney’s Emergency Operations Centre generously donated time to charge the tablets, set up them up for log-in and load the apps users might need, so shout out as well to Town of Sidney.






BC Government Listens to Urgent Business Feedback

As you may know on Monday, March 23rd the BC Government announced a COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes $5 billion allocated for programs that support businesses, workers, and economic recovery.

This announcement was directly informed by the COVID-19 Business Impact Survey conducted by our BC chamber network and partners, which ran from March 13-18.

Businesses said they need immediate relief and flexibility on tax remittance, specifically the EHT and PST. Today, the government promised deferred payments on these taxes, and many others, until September 30th, 2020. We also shared with government that property tax relief would be helpful for businesses right now, and they responded by cutting the provincial school tax on property in half for commercial and industrial businesses in Class 4, 5 and 6.

The BC Government also announced further wage replacement programs, as our network requested, including a tax-free, one-time payment of $1,000 to those whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. This benefit will be aligned with the enhanced EI eligibility put forward by the federal government.

While this isn’t yet a panacea to the crisis our members face – yesterday’s announcement will help you work through your business continuity and contingency plans. We know you’re eager to gain more clarity on how to access these initiatives, and the province will provide these details tomorrow.

Premier Horgan said that these announcements are “just the beginning,” so it’s imperative you keep using your voice. Sign up for BCMindReader.com to participate in future surveys. We’ll be using this platform to continue to ask what you need, so we can advocate to government on your behalf.

The BC Chamber of Commerce has created a page of resources for businesses affected by COVID-19. We’ll continue to update you as new resources and supports are added.

You’re not in this alone.

Denny Warner, Executive Director
Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce


Federal Package for Business and Provincial update – March 18 Eblast

Dear Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce member,

Federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, just unveiled the “first phase” of Canada’s “Economic Response Plan” – which includes $27B in direct support and aid to Canadians and $55B in tax deferrals.

The federal package includes a number of desired-actions you flagged in the network-wide COVID-19 Business Impact Survey the results of which were shared with both the federal and provincial government, including:

  • A reduction of 90% of payroll taxes for companies with payrolls under $1 million
  • Liquidity measures for business that will be available through banks, other financial institutions as well as BDC and EDC
  • An emergency support benefit for those who lose their jobs and don’t qualify for EI (this includes self-employed workers who have to close up shop)
  • Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1
  • Allowing taxpayers to defer tax payments until after August 31 (for amounts that are due after today and before September)
  • Temporarily boosting of the Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.

Of note in this morning’s federal announcement is the new “Emergency Care Benefit” which offers up to $900 biweekly (for up to 15 weeks) to provide income support to workers who have to stay home and don’t have access to paid sick leave. The measure could disburse up to $10 billion. Also of note is a six-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments.

More on this later today.

On the Provincial Front

Additionally, on the BC front, the Provincial Chamber President & CEO, Val Litwin, and Dan Baxter, Director of Policy, Government & Stakeholder Relations, met with Premier Horgan and Minister James yesterday morning.

During their time with the Premier and Minister they shared the preliminary results of the network’s province-wide COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey on BCMindReader.com – and that over 7000 businesses have now chimed in. Thank you for your engagement in this critically important survey. The data the BC Chamber shared painted a dire, real-time picture of SMEs operating in the province today. The full results will be released tomorrow, first thing.

The Premier and Minister confirmed that the insights our network shared will help them craft their stimulus/relief package, which they hope to unveil in the days ahead. As mentioned above, the federal government just announced its updated stimulus package – and we understand the province won’t be far behind.

How is BC tackling the situation? The Premier confirmed that the province has a “three stage” focus in these early days:

  1. The health and safety of BC citizens
  2. Support for people and businesses
  3. Economic recovery

On the subject of business continuity and recovery, the BC Chamber tabled our network’s key considerations around what the province should further consider as it crafts its package for businesses, including but not limited to:

  1. Being more flexible around tax remittances (including the EHT)
  2. Working with municipalities to allow for delayed property tax payment
  3. Working with credit unions to ensure zero interest loans, lines of credit
  4. Enhancing EI access and wider wage replacement options for employees
  5. Providing funding for business to work remotely

We will continue to provide information as it becomes available. Call or email us if you have suggestions for other ways we can be supporting you in this challenging time.

Denny Warner
Executive Director

Important Information – March 17 Eblast

Dear Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce member,
In the last two days, BC Chamber of Commerce has received over 2300 responses to the chamber network’s COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey on BCMindReader.com. (survey closes on March 18)
Above all else, businesses are asking government for three things:
  1. To work with banks and lending institutions to offer zero-interest loans, loan guarantees, or lines of credit
  2. To be more flexible around timelines for tax remittances
  3. To enhance EI access or wage replacement for employees
Over the weekend the feedback was taken to government. They are working to remove red tape and get cash flowing to the business community.
In the meantime, some immediate measures have been announced to assist with your liquidity, operational concerns, and business continuity plans.
A list of these measures has been compiled on the BC Chamber of Commerce website, and will be updated on a regular basis.
Here is a sample of what you’ll find there:
  • BC Hydro: The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program provides the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Call BC Hydro’s customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss options.
  • CMHC is working to address mortgage payment difficulties. They’ve said on twitter that they are collaborating with lenders to allow payment deferral of up to six months.
  • Export Development Canada (EDC). In partnership with the federal government and Canadian banks, EDC will ensure customers impacted by COVID-19 have access to credit.
  • Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has resources available including:
  • Small Business Loan: Up to $100,000 can be obtained online in as little 48 hours from time of approval.
  • Working capital loan: Get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support everyday operations.
  • Purchase Order Financing: Increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with very flexible terms.
We are here to support you and will continue to share information as it becomes available.
Denny Warner
Executive Director

The New Entrepreneur

Last month I talked about how amazing this part of the world is in which to live and do business. Adding to our quite diversified, protected economy, we have relatively low crime, beautiful scenery, stable government, etc. and it is clear why this is a location of choice for many. 

Following on the heels of another successful Tour of Industry, our 11th, we once again heard loudly and clearly from the businesses who operate here, of the significant challenges to operating on an island that their competition elsewhere does not share. In spite of these unique challenges, the number one reason each of them states as to why they stay here is the exceptional “quality of life”. Putting aside concerns about higher taxes, much higher shipping and transportation costs, and a high cost of living, they stay for the lifestyle. 

Our diversified economy and this “quality of life” will stand us in good stead as we move into the future. Young companies, aged five years or less, are creating the majority of net new jobs. The new entrepreneurs are highly mobile, many of them are freelancers. They can and do choose to live where they are personally connected and there is a high quality of life. 

If we provide entrepreneurs what they need such as access to capital, talent, and technical infrastructure and assistance, we will continue to be a home for future business moguls. We must focus on attracting these entrepreneurs to our community (or grow our own) to maintain our economic diversity. 

Denny Warner, 

Executive Director 




We Are Amazing but Please Don’t Tell Anyone

In 2019, Macleans magazine ranked Canada’s best communities, and perhaps not surprisingly for those of us who live here (or those who choose to holiday here), the three municipalities of the Saanich Peninsula rank in the top 50 of the 415 communities they compared. In fact two of the three ranked in the top 30. The criteria they use is: wealth and economy, affordability, demographics, taxes, commute, crime, weather, health, amenities and culture and community. 

Their ranking found the “…best spots to live are communities with rural charm and access to urban jobs.” Many of the truly rural communities are struggling with a lack of job growth and access to health care and other amenities. While we definitely have issues around affordability and transportation, we are not prone to experience periods of volatility. 

We are blessed to live in a region with an incredibly diversified economy. A small list of the thriving sectors includes agri-business, the marine industry, air transportation suppliers and support services for the airport, advanced manufacturing, a charming retail zone in Sidney, a plethora of service businesses, and the tourism power-house, Butchart Gardens, which attracts more than a million visitors a year to this area. 

Two other critical areas that impact diversity in an economy are the level of education attained by the population (yes that’s high here too) and the level of affluence (also high). The more people are paid, the greater their demand for services. 

Add to the above, the scenic beauty and it seems likely we will remain at the top of the list of best places to live for the foreseeable future. But we don’t toot our horn too loudly because we are modest Canadians who are somewhat averse to change.  

Denny Warner,

Executive Director