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Greater Victoria business leaders weigh in on their hopes for 2022

Greater Victoria business leaders weigh in on their hopes for 2022

VIATEC Technology Sector Employment Government Entrepreneurship CEO COVID-19

As we face 2022, we asked a selection of business leaders to weigh in with a few thoughts about the year nearly behind us, and the one ahead.

It’s been a challenging year — although the word doesn’t seem adequate to reflect the pain, stress, anxiety and near-constant stream of problems over the last 12 months.

With the COVID pandemic continuing unabated in the background, Greater Victoria weathered unprecedented heat, torrential rain and flooding, along with protests, blockades and angry demonstrations.

As we face 2022, we asked a selection of business leaders to weigh in with a few thoughts about the year nearly behind us, and the one ahead.

We asked them to offer a Christmas wish, a New Year’s resolution, an initiative, project or hope for their communities, and what they would like to see on the region’s agenda in 2022.

Dan Gunn, chief executive, VIATEC

“Our local tech sector had a remarkably strong year in 2021. It would have been considered exceptional even if we weren’t in a pandemic. I cannot recall a time where we’ve seen so much growth and so many successful funding rounds and sizable acquisitions of and by local tech companies."

“Thanks to the cascading effects to just about everything caused by the pandemic, we see 2022 as a blank slate which will allow us to evaluate all that we do and how we do it. I hope everyone takes a moment to realize that the Etch-a-Sketch has been shaken so hard that we all have an opportunity for reinvention and improvement."

“It’s exciting to assess what we would do differently and to have the option to introduce new priorities and approaches less encumbered by past habits and expectations. Our mission to cultivate the most cohesive tech community in the world by providing resources to tackle shared opportunities and challenges while providing a sense of belonging and shaping our region will remain, but how we go about that is all on the table.”

Jill Doucette, CEO, Synergy Enterprises

“As the hot mess of 2021 comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the hardships felt by small businesses, and how resilient they have been. In 2022, my hope is that we lean into creativity and innovation to support entrepreneurship, the arts and small business.”

“Let’s create more maker spaces, allow for more small-scale and home-based businesses to thrive. Let’s support the local businesses that are taking a leap to do things differently. Let’s support the innovators, the fearless and the backbone of our economy — our small businesses.”

Reid James, general manager, Hotel Grand Pacific

Reid James says his hope for 2022 might seem obvious — less disease. His other hope is related: for tourism revenue to return to the Island, along with much-needed labour.

Casey Edge, executive director, Victoria Residential Builders

“The overriding reality of the past year has been record-low housing inventory, high demand and record prices.

“[New housing] supply could be available but is collecting dust in glacially paced development permit processes in many municipalities. Our hope for the new year is the B.C. government will start to support millennial families by holding municipalities accountable for the obstruction of housing supply.

“In addition, millennials can hold their local councils accountable by voting for candidates truly supporting housing and administrative efficiency during the municipal elections in October 2022.

“Finally, we hope Santa brings a new LRT train to the Langford-Colwood twins because they have been doing most of the family’s house work for the other 11 kids in the CRD.”

Marci Hotsenpiller, founder, RITUAL Nordic Spa

“After a year with so much fear about illness and getting sick, our 2022 wish list would include a host of new and innovative ways to ensure workers — both front-line and everyday workers — get support on staying well. On a provincial level, we applaud the new sick day policy in B.C. but would love to see these costs shared by the government so that small businesses aren’t burdened.

“On a social level, we are seeing a more open conversation about mental health, which is a starting point in reducing the stigma around talking about mental wellness.

“On a business level, encouraging employees to get and stay well, both physically and mentally, could become a higher priority for employers.

“On a civic level, with more and more research showing that time spent in nature or in parks can boost the immune system and general well-being, our city design in downtown Victoria could work to require developers to add more green nature space to new condo towers being built downtown.

“On a community level, the groundswell of local interest in cold-water swimming and the welcoming communities of ocean swimmers that have popped up in Victoria these past few years have shown a hopeful energy among residents who are taking wellness into their own hands. May this energy grow and continue into the new year.”

Jeff Bray, chief executive, Downtown Victoria Business Association

“For 2022 the DVBA would love to see the city provide real-time parking information for the city-owned parkades. This would make it easier for visitors to know where there is parking and head straight to it. It would improve the people experience in visiting downtown.”

Ian Robertson, chief executive, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority

“My wish for all is health, happiness and a day when we can discard masks and see everyone’s face again.”

John Wilson, chief executive, Wilson’s Transportation

“My wish for our community is to be safe and to feel safe.

“To be healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally. These trying times have taken a toll on us all. It is important that we take care of all aspects of our health and the health of those around us. And to be happy, whatever happiness looks like and feels like for you and your loved ones.

“We still have a long road a head of us and it is important that we continue to support one another. Together we will make it through yet another year where the only thing that seems certain is uncertainty itself.”

Paul Nursey, chief executive, Destination Greater Victoria

“On the region’s agenda for next year, and the coming years, would be a focus on infrastructure renewal.

“This is a growing region for residents and the visitor economy will come back stronger than ever before in the next couple of years. It is important to get the Belleville [Street International Marine Transportation] Terminal project across the line, work on integrated transit solutions such as light rail and we will continue our research on the medium- to long-term need for downtown conference centre renewal, as we demonstrated prior to COVID-19 that we can sell out that facility and we are turning away vital and lucrative meetings and conference business.

“Hence if Santa can bring a focus on infrastructure renewal, that would be greatly appreciated by our industry.”

Al Hasham, chief executive, Maximum Express Courier

Al Hasham has a few wishes on his mind, ranging from COVID disappearing to Victoria council taking on a very different look after the next election, with “smart, realistic and business-minded people” and red tape being replaced by quick, cost-effective decision making at council tables.

“I would like to wish everyone a less-COVID, better, successful, harmonized and collaborative 2022.

“Let’s work together to help one another and make our community and region the best place in the world to work, play and live.”

Additional Info

Media Contact : Dan Gunn, CEO, VIATEC, / 250-882-2820

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