Spatial Mismatch

There is a term for the situation when employees can’t or don’t live where the jobs are located: economists call it “spatial mismatch”.

In some cities this condition is very pronounced. Think San Francisco. Boston. New York City. And to a lesser degree, Vancouver, Victoria, and the Saanich Peninsula. When housing costs are prohibitive, workers, especially those who are lower-income earners, are forced to live further and further away from their jobs.

We are beginning to see significant consequences of this mismatch. In the San Francisco area, some restaurants can’t hire servers so, by necessity, they have gotten creative and have put their patrons to work. There are fine dining restaurants that have become self-serve. Diners find their own tables, get their own water, order drinks and food at a counter and often bus their own dirty dishes. Perhaps not surprisingly, more people are opting for take-out than eating-in. Locally, a lack of available staff has resulted in Help Wanted signs popping up and some businesses have had to reduce the hours they are open.  

In recognition of the growing divide, some cities and regions have developed strategies to connect low-wage workers to good jobs. Many of the jobs that go unfilled are those in the service industry. Employees are more likely to travel longer distances for a position that pays competitive wages and offers a benefits package. Employers are creating entry-level jobs and demonstrating the potential for those positions to lead to a career. Wherever possible, housing is being created adjacent to jobs and transit. Employers are offering predictable and regular hours that coincide with transit schedules and are providing employees complimentary bus passes.   

Connecting workers and employers across our region will remain an issue for the foreseeable future. Addressing this lopsided supply will require local governments and companies (and organizations like ours) to innovate a Saanich Peninsula solution.


Denny Warner,

Executive Director



Cast Your Net Widely

I attended a workforce forum last week, which was focussed on the the difficult challenges employers face in finding employees to fill current positions. Employers are having to spend an increasing amount of time on recruitment and retention efforts, and are finding it necessary to expand their focus to access groups of people they have not had experience recruiting including immigrants, indigenous populations, people with diverse abilities, and the semi-retired.

The first challenge employers face is in figuring out where and how to access these largely untapped and diverse groups of potential employees. Gone are the days when you post a classified ad and are overwhelmed with resumes from a host of qualified applicants. The second challenge is in successfully and sensitively navigating the recruiting process. Employers may find themselves dealing with language and cultural barriers as well as workplace accommodation issues. It seems the key to making this all work is time, patience, and flexibility.  

Seemingly at odds with the difficulty employers are facing recruiting, at the federal level, as mentioned by Saanich – Gulf Islands MP, Elizabeth May, who attended the same forum, is the focus of bureaucrats and politicians on job creation. This policy approach is more than a little mind-boggling considering almost every business I know is looking for employees. It isn’t merely an irritant that companies have jobs open for extended periods of time; for some smaller businesses, a lack of employees has resulted in shortened hours and work weeks. It is very difficult to generate revenue when your doors are closed.

There seems to be a slight recognition of the shift in the balance of power from job creators to job seekers as evidenced by the criteria for the 2019 Canada Summer Jobs program. They have relaxed their previous requirement that applicants be students. We are able to hire any qualified candidates between the ages of 15 and 30. It’s a small step, but employers will take whatever help is offered.

Our thanks to John Juricic and Harbour Digital Media for shining the light on these important labour market issues. This Chamber will continue to support employers’ recruiting and retaining efforts by sharing information about programs and people and resources. Stay connected and sign up to receive our weekly e-Blast.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director





Peninsula Industrial Forces Unite

Media Contact:
Denny Warner
(250) 656-3616


SIDNEY, FEBRUARY 1, 2019 — The Sidney North Saanich Industrial Group (SNSIG) is pleased to announce that they are consolidating their Peninsula-based Industry and Manufacturing Sector advocacy efforts with the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. Recognizing similar focus and goals, and the importance of maximizing organizational resources, Peninsula-based industrial companies appreciate the opportunity to make use of the administrative strength and community reach of the Chamber. Sidney North Saanich Industrial Group activities and programs will now be supported and delivered through the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is cognizant of the immense contribution that the industrial businesses make to our local economy and looks forward to facilitating their continued access to decision-makers, and to promoting strategies to best serve their interests.

John Juricic, SNSIG ED states: “The ongoing issues of Affordable Workforce Housing availability, Labour Market concerns and increased Transportation options will be best served in a sustainable and effective manner thru the expert and experienced capacity of the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. I look forward to working with the Chamber thru this initial transition stage and developing the long-term association with this great Peninsula Business Organization.”

The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, building community through business since 1912.








Much more than a Tour

We have organized tours of businesses on the Saanich Peninsula now for 9 years for our Tour of Industry. To date, we have visited approximately 36 of them and the Tour remains one of the most popular activities we undertake, for several reasons.

The first reason is that many of the businesses we have been privileged to see over the years are leaders in their field but do not have clients or customers in this area. They have developed ground-breaking technology, innovative products or services and yet little is known about them at the local level. It is like a treasure hunt uncovering these gems in our own back yard.

Another reason we know so little about many of these businesses is that business leaders are busy! Their work day extends far beyond the hours their employees work. It is not on their priority list to let the wider community know the fantastic nature of their operation. We never have an issue with businesses agreeing to open their doors to us despite the challenges present in shepherding almost 60 people at a time through their work areas. We present them with an audience of community leaders eager to hear their story and they are pleased to have the opportunity to brag, at our request, about their success.

When the Tour ends, our guests frequently express two main themes for why it was a valuable use of their day: they learned fascinating features of each of the businesses toured and they often had not anticipated the quality of interaction they would experience with their fellow guests. The Tour of Industry is networking on steroids. Imagine a moving mixer attended by participants who are leaders in their own areas of influence. Kind of like speed dating with a different seat mate en route to each new destination.

There are a few other reasons the franchise has prevailed: we throw in a meal with a guest speaker, we have stellar organizations that step up every year to sponsor, and, crucial to the event’s success, we have an embarrassment of industrial riches on the Saanich Peninsula and have yet to exhaust our possibilities for interesting, successful enterprises to tour.


The Honeymoon Phase

What does it mean for the Saanich Peninsula that we have 2 new mayors and a substantially different council in Sidney? Obviously, time will tell, but we were heartened to see a recent photo of the Sidney and North Saanich mayors together, smiling broadly, at the Grand Opening of the new peninsula Canadian Tire. Previous mayors and councils had idealized cooperation and pointed to the services that were currently shared as evidence of their harmony while it was clear relationships were anything but collaborative. Early conversations with many members of council and new mayors have generated cautious optimism amongst our board and chamber members that a shift in cooperation is happening.

In the lead up to the election, many citizens of Sidney and North Saanich expressed dissatisfaction about the change Sidney was experiencing. Responding to a perceived lack of control is legitimate; however, venting, or chronic complaining, always serves to deplete people’s energy, dampens positive attitudes, and almost inevitably results in people feeling wholly unmotivated to change behaviour.

We support our municipal leaders in fostering a climate of entrepreneurialism and mindful growth in our communities. We look forward to participating in discussions, about the complexion of the community we want to live and do business in, where there is laser-like focus on generating ideas and zero time wasted on debating facts. We encourage future facilitators of the OCP and area plan discussions to be strict about having ideas travel through the process accompanied by solutions. We are wildly enthusiastic about consultation where problem solvers are engaged in creating the plan for change.

It’s not our role to give advice, but we anticipate that this approach is less likely to result in a divorce four years from now. We look forward to working with all three councils to see the appropriate infrastructure and foundation develop on the Saanich Peninsula, to not simply sustain business, but to ensure it thrives.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

A Reason To Celebrate

The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and title sponsor partner Island Savings were thrilled to recognize these businesses recently at our 12th Annual Crystal Awards for Business Excellence:

Entrepreneurial Spirit – Urban Bee Honey Farm

Green Business of the Year – Focus Hair Design

Not-for-Profit Organization of the Year – Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank

Contribution to the Community – Hughesman Morris CPA

Outstanding Customer Service – All Care Canada (Sidney)

Employer of the Year – Bayshore Home Health

Lifetime Achievement Award – Michell Family

New Business, Product or Service – Trich Analytics

Newsmaker of the Year – McTavish Academy of Art

Business of the Year 1-15 – Pacific Ridge Landscapes

Business of the Year 16+ – Titan Boats

Those of you who have never attended the Crystal Awards are missing out on a stellar event. It is inspirational to hear the stories of the people who have invested incredible amounts of time and energy into their businesses, to witness their passion, and to recognize their efforts. There are many, many businesses operating on the Peninsula that you have never heard of and that is unfortunate, because they are doing amazing things. The networking is fabulous and people are unbelievably supportive of each other. The guests enjoy the wonderfully-prepared locally-sourced dinner in a beautiful setting.

Those reasons are compelling enough to attend, but it is the greatest honour to attend as a finalist for an award. Winning awards can have unforeseen benefits for your company. It gives you an opportunity to legitimately brag about how amazing you are. It can benefit your hiring and retention efforts. Winning an award builds credibility, enhances your reputation as a trustworthy brand, and can lead to increased sales. It’s free publicity!

The award goes to… You won! Now what? Take advantage of the opportunity. Consider using press releases, social media, emails, and other platforms to spread the word. Make sure your suppliers and customers know you are an award-winning organization. Put it on your business cards and website. Find a prominent location in your office to display your award. Leverage this community stamp of approval and share the news loudly and proudly. And if you weren’t nominated this year, get thinking about the possibility for next year. We look forward to recognizing a whole new batch of exemplary companies and you could be one of them.


Congratulations to our Winners

Business of the Year 1-15 Employees – Sponsored by TELUS PureFibre

Winner – Pacific Ridge Landscapes

Business of the Year 16 + Employees – Sponsored by Island Savings

Winner – Titan Boats

Not for Profit Organization of the Year – Sponsored by Casman Properties

Winner – Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank

Contribution to the Community – Sponsored by Flader CPA & Peggy Yelland & Associates

Winner – Hughesman Morris CPA

Green Business of the Year – Sponsored by Peninsula News Review

Winner – Focus Hair Design

Entrepreneurial Spirit – Sponsored by Camosun/UVic Co-op Programs

Winner – Urban Bee Honey Farm

New Business, Product or Service of the Year – Sponsored by Hughesman Morris

Winner – Trich Analytics

Employer of the Year – Sponsored by BMT, Bottle Depot and Coastal Heat Pumps

Winner – Bayshore Home Health

Outstanding Customer Service – Sponsored by Victoria Airport Authority

Winner – All Care Canada (Sidney)

Newsmaker of the Year – Sponsored by the Times Colonist

Winner – McTavish Academy of Art

Lifetime Achievement Award – Sponsored by Peninsula Co-op

Winner – Michell Family


Loyal Employees are Your Most Valuable Asset

Last month I talked about how important it is to do your due diligence in recruiting, hiring, and training new employees. When you have hired the best, you want to keep them because good employees are challenging to find in this competitive labour market. Are you properly armed to win the employee retention battle?

The most obvious consideration is the rate of compensation you are offering. Often that is the carrot dangled to attract the best staff but for many employees, a competitive rate of pay isn’t the reason they stay.

Employees report that they want to feel they have a stake in the success of the business and are part of a team. Do you take time to celebrate organizational and employee milestones and accomplishments and create opportunities for team-building and socializing?

There are other perks to think about. Do you provide extended benefits or contribute to an employee’s RRSP? Some businesses pay for Costco memberships for each of their staff. Some offer a day off for the employee’s birthday and others organize birthday celebrations in the office complete with cake and a glass of bubbly. Have you considered offering your staff educational opportunities which might lead to a promotion? There are organizations that start employees with four weeks of holidays a year. Flexible schedules might be the key to retaining certain employees so they can more easily meet their family and work obligations. You will need to get curious and creative to learn what matters most to your individual employees.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, be a strong leader. Demonstrate your willingness to hear feedback, positive and negative. Don’t take your good workers for granted. Ensure your employees are well-suited to and trained for their positions, check in on them often to alleviate any points of contention and treat your employees like they are the most important asset of your business. Because they truly are.


Do it Right or Do it Over

Gather together a group of business owners or managers today and the topic of conversation naturally turns to the difficulty of recruiting and retaining employees. The first of two articles on these challenges, this one will deal with recruitment issues.

The cost to recruit and train an employee for an entry-level position is estimated to be about 16% of a year’s wages. Recruiting costs for senior managers can range as high as 200% of the position’s yearly salary. The recruitment process is time-consuming and expensive. The traditional method of hiring was to place an ad, expect to receive an overwhelming number of calls and applications, screen out most of the applicants, interview the top three candidates and hire the one who seemed to be the best fit for the position. This strategy does not work in this current labour market. Some companies have gotten so desperate they have resorted to paying candidates to come in for an interview. It’s a given that your compensation package must be competitive in order to attract the best candidates but potential new employees are looking beyond compensation. Also important to them is a work-life balance, flexibility, work that feels meaningful, shared values, and opportunities for growth.  

Reported HR woes include “job ghosting” by new hires who just don’t show up for work. Increasingly common are situations where new employees are asked to do a task they don’t understand or are requested to do something they don’t wish to do and simply walk out. These are examples of employees who were not well-matched for the job, were not properly trained, or found themselves in a work environment that did not provide the necessary support. If you don’t have time to recruit, onboard and train new hires properly, you will find the time to do it again

When it’s so difficult to find employees you are tempted to place any warm body. Hiring the right person can bring you new customers. Sometimes hiring the wrong person will result in you having to do a lot of clean up to restore your clients’ faith in your business. Recruiting is a full-time job. Business owners must be looking for the next best employee at networking events, in the grocery line-up, at their child’s sporting event, and at get-togethers with family and friends. When you have identified an appropriate candidate, it is crucial that you take the time to check references and ensure they are a good fit. Go beyond the information and contacts that are readily available. Listen to what is being said and for what isn’t. Once you have made the hiring decision, tailor the orientation and training so as to establish the best possible foundation for your new hire.

And then, when you are congratulating yourself for finally placing a winner, turn your attention to how you are going to keep that person engaged and employed. You don’t want to watch your investment walk out the door to another company which more clearly demonstrates their long-term commitment to their employees.


Denny Warner,

Executive Director