Having many politicians in one place will give local industry the chance to lobby on behalf of the various issues facing their businesses on the Saanich Peninsula.
For those working in local industry, that’s what makes the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Tour of Industry a unique experience.
The next tour is Fri., Jan. 23, 2015 and space on the bus is almost full. Many of those on the tour are local politicians, says Denny Warner, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich are booked, as are MP Elizabeth May and MLA Gary Holman. The guest speaker during the tour’s lunch stop will be new Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“We hope she will be talking about how the Saanich Peninsula is an economic driver for Greater Victoria,” Warner explained.
Warner credits John Trelevan, the chamber’s secretary, for sending a Twitter message to Helps, inviting her to speak.
The tour, which will visit a series of companies and organizations throughout the area, will also act as a platform, Warner said.
“Some of the issues on the table include competition with the U.S. and their Made in the U.S.A. policies. There’s no such policy in Canada,” she said. “There is some frustration by some of the businesses on the difficulties in participating in the U.S. markets.”
Locally, she said issues of taxation and municipal services will be raised, as they were during the fall’s municipal election campaign. The issue, she said, raised the spectre of businesses looking elsewhere to avoid what they see as high taxes.
“It can be attractive (for businesses) to look elsewhere, but for many of them, it’s about quality of life. They are facing challenges to compete, however.”
Warner said she’s hearing that some owners are feeling like they and their tax contributions are taken for granted. Throw in concerns with cooperation from local planning departments, and there will be a full slate of issues on this tour.
“This kind of focus has been the goal of the tour, “ Warner explained. “It’s to help get politicians to know the success stories and struggles facing these businesses.”
The tour can also be revealing, exposing people to products and activities that not everyone knows about. During tours in the recent past, participants found out about local products manufactured for international subway systems, new trends in recycling and secretive, secure buildings where vast quantities of information is stored.
The Jan. 23 Tour of Industry starts at Vancouver Island Helicopters where they and the Victoria Airport Authority get the group off on the right foot. Boarding a Wilson Transportation bus, the tour will visit: the Canadian Coast Guard’s Victoria MCTS centre, the 433 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, Portofino Bakery, Morinwood Contract Millwork, Category 12 Brewing and J.S. Foster Precision CNC Machining and Manufacturing. The lunch stop takes the tour group to the Brentwood Bay Resort and Spa, where Victoria’s mayor delivers her address.
The Peninsula News Review will be taking part in the tour, reporting on both the issues raised throughout the day and on the area businesses that have opened their doors. Watch for our stories in upcoming editions of the PNR.