Bruce Williams named new CEO of The Chamber

Bruce Williams Photo: Brad Edwards Photography

VICTORIA, BC – The Board of Directors of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has selected Bruce Williams to become the organization’s next CEO, effective June 15.

John Wilson, chair of The Chamber’s Board of Directors, says Williams was chosen after a rigorous process that examined an extensive list of candidates from across Canada.

“Bruce has proven himself as a highly capable leader in Greater Victoria. We’re delighted he’s agreed to take the helm at The Chamber as we work to restart our economy after a very challenging time,” Wilson says. “Bruce is well-known and trusted as someone who cares deeply about our community. He’s also had tremendous success connecting with people in business and government, which will be vital in his new role at The Chamber.”

Williams had been serving as interim CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership, which evolved from an economic development committee that originated with The Chamber. He is co-owner of the Spark Strategic Group and has served as a business executive with Bell Media and as a broadcast producer, on-air host and television anchor with CTV.

“I want to recognize the exemplary and inspired leadership created by Catherine Holt over the past four years,” Williams said. “Catherine crafted an efficient, effective and extremely influential organization. She along with current and past Chamber board members and staff should be proud of the organization they have formed.

“Recognizing the current state of our economy due to the COVID-19 crisis, I feel The Chamber can remain strong and resilient as we work with and support small, medium and large businesses. Greater Victoria has always been a strong, healthy, sustainable and inclusive community and I’m proud to be assuming this role to engage us all with our new economy.”

Williams will take over from current Chamber CEO Catherine Holt, who announced she was moving on from the role in January.

“Of course, at that time we had no inkling we would soon be facing unprecedented economic turmoil caused by a global pandemic,” Holt says. “Fortunately for The Chamber, we have been able to build a small but mighty team that has proven it can rise to the occasion. With Bruce’s exceptional skills as a communicator, I can’t think of a better organization to help Greater Victoria get through this challenge. We have the foundation for one of the most robust economies in Canada, and I look forward to the day when all businesses can thrive once again.”

Since 1863, The Chamber has served Greater Victoria by working together to build good business and great community through advocacy, networking, professional development and innovative services as changing times require. Find out more at

“Fun for Life GO” Online Recreation Resources

The City of Victoria has launched online recreation resources to help residents stay healthy and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fun for Life GO combines ideas from the City’s experts in fitness, programming for children and older adults, and outdoor recreation, with links to other helpful resources.

Staff from the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre are creating videos from home to stay connected with residents while recreation facilities remain closed.

The first videos include two strengthening exercises you can do from home without special fitness equipment, two interactive games to keep kids active and engaged, and 10 ideas to stay active outdoors while practising physical distancing. New videos will be added regularly.

“This is a difficult time for many who rely on the City’s recreation facilities and programs to maintain their physical, mental and emotional health,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “Fun for Life GO is a creative way to stay connected and to continue to support residents with their activity needs during this extended time at home.”

In addition, staff continue to visit City parks as part of the Recreation Ambassador Program to engage with residents about recreation facility closures and physical distancing. Open spaces and trails in City parks remain open.

More info via:

Engage with the Royal BC Museum at home

Royal BC Museum - Engage at homeWe’ve got plenty of ways for you to explore BC’s natural history and human history, whether you’re browsing from your sofa or tackling schoolwork at your kitchen table.

While the Royal BC Museum is closed during the COVID-19 outbreak, you can still enjoy our online programs, from materials for learners of all ages to videos, talks with curators and more.

For children and youth:

For parents, teaching parents and adult learners:

  • Educators (including parents at home!) might use a helping hand these days. RBCM@Home (Office Hours) is online support just for educators, every second Monday and Friday.
  • If you miss the great outdoors, join our RBCM@Outside webinars. These themed virtual fieldtrips to local destinations are every second Wednesday.
  • Hang out (virtually) with museum curatorial and collections staff every Tuesday and Thursday with our RBCM@Home webinar
  • Explore the Learning Portal or, if you’ve suddenly become a home-schooling parent, learn how to use the Learning Portal as your resource (pro tip: check out themes).
  • Browse museum and archives highlights, selected by our curatorial and archival teams with 100 Objects of Interest
  • Learn how research helps us unlock the secrets to BC and the cultures that flourish here on the Research Portal
  • Reacquaint yourself with a giant of the art world at the Emily Carr timeline
  • Check out the Royal BC Museum presence on the Google Art Project, featuring Emily Carr and more
  • Curl up with a Royal BC Museum ebook or audiobook.

For archival explorers:

For the video-minded:

We’re also developing new online programs to continue to keep you engaged with stories of BC history and with our museum experts, no matter where you are in the province (or the world, for that matter!).  Stay tuned.

We’re always happy to engage with you about BC’s human history and natural history on social media. Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Ready for more stories of BC’s natural and human history? Subscribe to our newsletter.

The 37th Annual TD JazzFest: Cancelled

The 37th edition of the TD Victoria International JazzFest has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

From all of us at the Victoria Jazz Society and the TD Victoria International JazzFest, we wish you and yours all the best and utmost health during these challenging times. We extend our sympathies to those whose lives and livelihoods have been gravely affected by this unprecedented upheaval.

For many months the Victoria Jazz Society has worked tirelessly to produce the 2020 festival, and therefore we are deeply saddened to announce that the 37th edition of the TD Victoria International JazzFest (June 19 – 28, 2020) has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. With the Government of Canada imposing non-essential travel restrictions on foreign and US nationals until June 30, 2020, and with the B.C. provincial ban on gatherings exceeding 50 people, we are unable to present the June festival at this time.

With this ever-evolving situation, we had to carefully consider the health and well-being of patrons, artists, volunteers and staff, and came to this conclusion. Connecting with our family of public funders, donors, and corporate partners, we are currently working on a contingency plan to present a “live music presentation series” beginning in late summer/early fall of 2020, which will include components of the TD Victoria International JazzFest and Vancouver Island Blues Bash, in hopes that circumstances will become more favorable.

Tickets to the previously announced Marquee Series performances at the Royal Theatre and McPherson Playhouse will be refunded at the point of purchase (The Royal Theatre and McPherson Playhouse Box Offices). Refunds will be processed starting April 14, 2020, and can take between 5 to 7 business days to be reflected on your credit card.

The Victoria Jazz Society is grateful for your ongoing support. Like many others in our sector, any donations to our non-profit organization (registered charity) are greatly appreciated at this time. We believe that live music’s ability to engage our community will continue to thrive and positively impact the local social, economic and arts scene in the near future. We look forward to experiencing the joys of live music again with you all soon.

“I’m saying: to be continued, until we meet again. Meanwhile, keep on listening and tapping your feet.” – COUNT BASIE.


The Victoria Jazz Society

Physical Distancing at Beacon Hill Park and Dallas Road

The City is making it easier for people to maintain physical distance in Beacon Hill Park and along Dallas Road by restricting vehicle access and realigning parking.

Starting Friday, April 10, primary roads within Beacon Hill Park will only be accessible to service and first responder vehicles on weekends.

Parking along Douglas Street and on Nursery Road will remain open with an increased number of accessible stalls.

Along Dallas Road, parking near the multi-use pathway construction between Dock Street and Lewis Street will be suspended over the holiday weekend (April 10 – 13) as changes to allow parallel parking are completed. These interventions will free up space inside Beacon Hill Park and in constricted areas along Dallas Road so local residents can stay active, while also maintaining physical distance.

Practise Physical Distancing in Public Spaces

In addition to vehicle access and parking restrictions, City staff will be out in public spaces to engage with residents about playground and recreation facility closures and to encourage physical distancing.

“I look forward to seeing our parks bustling with playdates and picnics again one day, but right now we are following Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.  “Now is the time for people to remain in their home municipalities and to use the parks and trail systems nearby. So if you do go out for exercise and fresh air, a walk close to home is your best option.”

CRD and City parks are staying open at this time as the risk of transmission outdoors is much less than the risk indoors. As directed by B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, if you are going for a walk, don’t congregate or gather in groups. Keep a two-metre physical distance and be courteous of others.


It takes a village, or two, to make hand sanitizer

It takes a village, or two,
to make hand sanitizer

Over the last few weeks, a call went out to the craft distillers to make hand sanitizers for first responders and others.  Merridale and many from the BC Craft Distillers Guild have jumped into action to figure out how to do this. Most of us have never made a product like this before, but Guild Members worked together closely sharing information and recipes, which has been incredibly inspiring.

At Merridale Distillery, our first call for help came from one of our growers, Dr. Robert Anderson. Hand sanitizer was desperately needed for Home Care Workers to take with them on their home visits. These workers are out on the front lines of the pandemic and needed something portable.

Because we pick our fruit in the fall, ferment it into cider, and then distill the cider into spirits in our small still, we didn’t have the neutral spirits available to make it. Luckily, our good friends at Averill Creek, Wendy and Andy Johnston had grain alcohol they could spare.

We then reached out to Gifty at Shea Butter Market, a long-time collaborator who has been making our hand creams, cider soaps and lip balms for years. Understanding how often the hand sanitizer would be used, we wanted to create something that wouldn’t dry or irritate the skin.

Gifty brought her skin care expertise to the table, along with her Baraka Shea Butter, which is hand-made by women and families from the village of Kperisi in Northern Ghana. She helped us work on a formulation that added in a little Shea Butter and Coconut oil, so that it would smell great and feel good.

The second key ingredient in hand sanitizer after the alcohol is aloe gel. As the supply chain slowed down, there was no aloe to be found anywhere. We searched. Gifty searched. And, finally we located some at Voyageur in Surrey. When they learned that the aloe was for hand sanitizer for Home Care Workers, they jumped into action helping to ensure that our order was ready before the end of the day on Friday.

Understandably, couriers are extremely busy right now and we couldn’t find a way to get our newly acquired Aloe Gel to the Island. So, in jumped Karen, a Vancouver-based member of our family. She picked up the aloe, packed it up and headed to the ferry terminal. Rick, our owner, in the meantime had hopped on the ferry as a walk-on. They did a quick pass-off at Tsawwassen and Rick rode the ferry back to the Island with a suitcase of Aloe Gel in tow.

With the last ingredient finally in hand, Gifty’s team sprang into action, quickly getting an assembly line in place. The hand sanitizer was made, packaged and labeled in less than 24 hours. The following afternoon, we dropped off the packaged hand sanitizer for our nurses in the Duncan hospital.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Shea Butter MarketAverill CreekVoyageur Soap & Candle, Karen Symmes, and of course, our local health care workers and Dr. Anderson for reaching out! Seeing a community pull together on a project like this is heartwarming. It’s the good part of the bad that is happening right now.

As we move forward with further production, most of our product will be given away to first responders, but we will have a limited amount for our customers.  We have stayed open in the eatery supplying take away foods for your freezer and pantries.  Our cider and spirits shelves are also stocked.  To customers coming into the Farmhouse for take-away foods, cider, or spirits, we are making one bottle of sanitizer available per person at our cost of $5. Please support local during these trying times, whether it be here or another business close to your home.  We want businesses to survive and be there when this passes.  Stay Safe.  Stay Positive.  Stay supportive.

Cool Aid Society is launching the Home Hair Challenge

Victoria – Cool Aid Society is launching the Home Hair Challenge Friday (April 10) ! A lighthearted way to raise much-needed funds to support people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As hair dressers and salons have temporarily shut down, members of the community are left to fend for themselves with personal grooming. This has given rise to the #HomeHairChallenge where people showcase their handiwork by posting before and after pictures of haircuts, dye jobs or other homemade creations using the hashtag #HomeHairChallenge.

To encourage people to get involved and support Cool Aid, donors Jim Thomson and Kathleen Brandsma, inaugural homemade stylists, will shave their heads for the occasion, and match donations made through #HomeHairChallenge up to $10,000. The media is invited to witness the head shave in their front yard at their home in James Bay today and learn more:

What:   Jim Thomson and Kathleen Brandsma shave their heads

When:  11 am, Friday, April 10

Where: 433 Montreal Street in James Bay (250-516-2402)

“We wanted to come up with a way to help the community that would also help people have a bit of fun and create some levity in these serious times,” said Jim. “We’ve seen first hand the impact the work Cool Aid does in Victoria and the need is becoming greater every day,” said Kathleen.

Here is how the #HomeHairChallenge works:

  1. Donations to support the matching challenge can be made at
  2. If you are styling your hair, post before and after picture of your homemade haircut or style to Facebook and Instagram using #HomeHairChallenge @VicCoolAid
  3.  Your donation will be matched up to $10,000 by Jim and Kathleen until   April 30th!
  4.  Your donations will provide food security and care for hundreds of people served by Cool Aid.

Pumpkinfest at Galey Farms

Pumpkinfest at Galey FarmsPumpkinfest at Galey Farms is a great time for the whole family! Featuring live entertainment, face painting, kids games, hay rides, u-pick pumpkins, train rides, corn maze, playground, petting farm, children’s haunted house, fantastic seasonal displays and our Cow Train!

This annual event is running October weekends 6th, 7th a& 8th, 13th & 14th, 20th & 21st, 27th & 28th from 10 am to 4 pm.

Cost is $12 per adult $8 per child for one Train Ride ticket or one Corn Maze ticket. With your purchase of first ticket, second ticket at $6 (+taxes). Family Combo Pass (2 adults, 2 children) for $48 includes Corn Maze and Train Ride. Hayrides and Petting Farm are complimentary only with the purchase of first ticket or separately $3 per person.

Infants (not walking and must be accompanied by a parent) free.

Seasonal ticket rate applies for Cow Train.

All prices plus taxes.

Don’t forget to bring your camera!


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2018 Island Farms Santa Claus Parade

Island Farms Santa Claus ParadeThe Island Farms Santas Light Parade

The Santa Claus Parade is November 24.  It starts at 4:45 pm at the corner of Government & Belleville at the Legislative Buildings and travels down Government Street near Centennial Square.  Parade Route HERE

Please support the Mustard Seed Food Bank and bring a non-perishable food donation. Donations will be collected on the parade route.  Help for those in need is especially appreciated during the holiday season.

Afterwards, join the fun at Centennial Square for refreshments from Island Farms and witness SANTA OFFICIALLY DECLARE CHRISTMAS IN VICTORIA OPEN!

More Christmas fun in the city IEOA Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive

The Saanich Fair kicks off Saturday #yyjevents

Come and join us for what will be an amazing show. Canadian Rock Icons 54.40 will be performing at the Saanich Fair Sunday night. The Chris Buck Band plays Saturday.

As always our concerts are free of charge with paid admission to the Saanich Fair.

Make sure to share this and hope to see you and all your friends here for an amazing time!

Midway Ride all day Wrist BandsSaturday Sept. 1st 10am-10pmSunday Sept.
2nd 10am-10pm
Monday September 3rd 10am-6pm
Adult, Youth, Children, Senior$40$40$35
Please note: GST included in all prices
 Admission at the Gate:Saturday September 1st 8am-9pmSunday September 2nd 8am-9pmMonday September 3rd 8am-6pm
Youth (7-13)$8.00$8.00$7.00
Senior 65+$8$8$7
Children (6 and under)FreeFreeFree