Business front-and-centre at gala

Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce asking the hard questions

Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce President Ian Brown addresses an audience of mostly business owners from the area during the 2014 Crystal Awards Oct. 23 at the Butchart Gardens.

Excellence in local business was rewarded Oct. 23 at Butchart Gardens during the eighth annual Crystal Awards, hosted by the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

Guests were treated to a gala evening, featuring great food, fun and the celebration of the people who are taking their businesses ever skyward. The Crystal Awards are given out each year in such categories as Business of the Year, New Business of the Year, top Green Business and Customer Service. See a full list and all the winners inside.

Chamber President Ian Brown, after setting the stage for the evening’s festivities, used the opportunity of the municipal elections to speak out in support of the business community on the Saanich Peninsula. Brown said issues of tax rates should be front-and-centre.

“Taxes and the commercial tax multiple (rate, compared with residential taxes) is an election issue for the Chamber during this year’s campaign,” Brown told the crowd, which included some political hopefuls.

“We are concerned about the continuing pressure.

“We want to pay our fair share, yes, but please don’t look at (business) as a servant whenever you need anything more for the community.”

Brown added his concern is that business cannot always pass tax increases on to their customers.

“We’re not there to be cannon fodder for the tax regime,” he said, adding if it wasn’t for the existence of businesses, government would not have the means to collect taxes in the first place.

Brown encouraged the audience to ask the candidates in Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney what they “are going to do for business.”

“We are not supporting any candidates in particular,” Brown continued, but we hope people ask the hard questions.”

Brown called the municipal level of politics the “biggest deal” in how it directly impacts residents and business owners in a community directly.

“They should be friends and they should be cooperative.”

And the winners are …

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Bistro Suisse

Green Business

BC Hazmat

Not-for-Profit Organization

Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation

Contribution to the Community

Island Savings Credit Union

Outstanding Customer Service

Helping Hands

Employer of the Year

Panorama Recreation Centre

Lifetime Achievement Award

Terry Stewart

New Business

Pacifica Real Estate Inc.

New Product or Service

Vancouver Island Almost Free Magazine

Newsmaker of the Year for 2013

Viking Air

Business of the Year (1-15 employees)

Salvador Davis & Co.

Business of the Year (16-plus employees)

Peninsula Co-Op