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New App Makes Paying On-Street Parking Easier

Dec 06, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – Paying for on-street parking just got easier. Motorists can now pay for on-street parking using their iPhone, iPad, Android smart phone or tablet by downloading the free ParkVictoria app from the App Store or Google Play. Motorists can also use any data-enabled mobile device to access the ParkVictoria mobile web application at www.parkvictoria.ca.

ParkVictoria allows motorists to pay for on-street parking at any numbered downtown parking space, while on-the-go or from the comfort of their vehicle. There is no need to visit a pay station or parking meter.

The mobile payment system sends a reminder text message or pop-up notification before a parking session expires, enables customers to extend parking time up to the maximum time zone limit posted, and to refund any unused parking time to a ParkVictoria “wallet” or credit card.

Customers also have the ability to view or print parking receipts, and to view their parking history. ParkVictoria is a secure method of payment; all data is encrypted to ensure safe and secure payment transactions.

The parking session information that is entered into the ParkVictoria system is immediately sent to the City’s parking monitoring system.

Sign-up is free and uses a phone number, email address or Facebook account to identify customers.

PassportParking Inc. developed ParkVictoria, having created customized mobile parking payment systems for cities in North America such as Chicago and Omaha. They are currently developing a parking application for the City of Toronto.

The City of Victoria is improving customer service and making parking downtown easier. In September, the City implemented a range of improvements to shift motorists from higher-demand on-street parking spots to available spaces in the City's five parkades. There are five City parkades within two blocks of all downtown attractions, three City surface parking lots, and nearly 2,000 on-street parking spaces downtown.

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Capstone Event Showcases Camosun Student Talent

Dec 03, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA — Camosun College’s annual Capstone Event will showcase a variety of projects from the Electronics & Computer Engineering Technology program’s graduating students, Friday December 5 at Interurban campus. Projects range from an auto guitar tuner to a home lock system controlled from your smartphone to a virtual reality controlled drone. The projects represent work the students have done for the last three months.

“Innovation is alive and well at Camosun,” says Alan Duncan, Program Chair. “I’m truly amazed at the diversity of projects this term. It’s remarkable what these students have been able to accomplish in 11 weeks. We’re seeing potential products of the future.”

The students will present their projects from 10am to 2pm on Friday, December 5 at the Helmut Huber Annex at Interurban.

Project Details

Aerial Immersion Platform
Aerial Immersion Platform will allow any owner of a RC aircraft to experience a real-time first-person flight from the safety of the ground. The applications for this device range from entertainment to commercial surveying applications. The system uses a mounted 3D camera on a quad copter controlled from an Oculus Rift VR headset connected to a ground station system.

Portable solar power station
This portable solar power station has two-axis tracking and utilizes MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) to give the batteries an optimal load. Each Solar Cube has an Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller, 1W MPP solar panel, two servos, circuit board and an external acrylic shell. The output is a USB connection charger at 5V. The system requires no input from the user other than a simple on and off switch.

Weather Survey Drone
The weather survey drone is the culmination of sensors attached to a buoyant, ocean-ready frame which is powered by two motors. There are two brushless AC motors both controlled with electronic speed controllers and a Playstation 3 controller over Bluetooth. The sensors monitor weather conditions and, along with GPS coordinates, have their data transmitted to a land base station.

Smart Lock System
This home lock system can be controlled and monitored completely from the convenience of a smart phone or tablet. It allows operation of the lock from anywhere around the world over an internet connection and gives the user many different features that collectively provide a full experience.

Microphone preamp
Created by a pair of music enthusiasts, the microphone preamp has been designed to provide high transparency amplification to small studios and recording artists. With 60dB of gain and +48V phantom power and excellent noise rejection, the design is suitable for any studio recording situation.

Guitar auto tuner
Digi-Tune is a device which automatically tunes a guitar by detecting the frequency of the string and controlling a servo motor to adjust it accordingly. The user connects his/her guitar to the Digi-Tune’s input jack with a standard guitar cable. After selecting which string is being tuned and placing the winder slot over the tuning peg, the user only has to pluck the string and Digi-Tune will do the rest.

Wireless CD quality audio
The Audio-TxRx transmits CD quality audio wirelessly using the 2.4 GHz ISM band. The user could listen to audio within 50 meters without the need of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. For around $70 anyone could use it in their own home to listen to audio from any device that has USB and a headphone jack. There is no need to purchase a new set of headphones as any set of headphones will work. The receiver is compact enough to carry which allows the user to enjoy a seamless wireless audio experience.

The sponsor for the event is Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC) which serves the public interest by registering and regulating applied science and engineering technologists, technicians and technical specialists in BC. With more than 10,000 members, ASTTBC is one of BC’s largest professional associations and is known for high standards, addressing skills shortages, and promoting technology careers.

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E-Commerce Investments To Drive Service Improvements And Continued Efficiencies At BC Ferries


Dec 03, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – Pursuant to the Efficiency Plan that was provided to the BC Ferries Commissioner on September 30, 2014, BC Ferries has just submitted an application for the Fare Flexibility and Digital Experience Initiative, which proposes e-commerce and information technology upgrades that will drive significant change in how the company does business and serves its customers over the next decade. The company is currently in the planning stages, and if approved by the BC Ferries Commissioner, the Initiative will be implemented in phases starting in 2017.
The Initiative will modernize the way BC Ferries sets pricing, sells travel and manages loads and will provide important benefits, including shorter wait times, an improved customer experience, operational efficiencies and the opportunity to offer discounted fares at off-peak travel times. In addition, the Initiative will reduce upward pressure on fares.
“BC Ferries has heard from our customers that they want more flexibility in how they book travel in the future, more certainty at the terminal that they will be able to board the sailing they want, and more opportunities for discounted fares,” said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “We plan to invest in information technology and e-commerce systems that will meet those goals while incrementally increasing traffic and keeping fares lower than they would be under the current business model.”
The Initiative includes two business strategies. The Fare Flexibility and Revenue Management Strategy sets out a new system to manage fares and improve operational efficiency through better capacity management. The Digital Experience Strategy will provide customers with a modernized e-commerce platform, greater online functionality and booking options, and better access to BC Ferries through systems and applications designed specifically for mobile, tablet and desktop channels.
BC Ferries’ current website and IT systems are outdated, rigid and inflexible, and cannot support the new approach to pricing, capacity management, and purchase of ancillary services.
The Initiative will be introduced through phases. Initially, customers on the Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island routes will have opportunities for discounted fares for off-peak travel times and the ability to book in advance without a reservation fee.
“We believe that this Initiative is aligned with a number of the BC Ferries Commissioner’s recommendations outlined in his 2012 Review of the Coastal Ferry Act,” said Corrigan.
The Initiative builds on ongoing efforts to control expenses and implement programs to make BC Ferries as safe, efficient, cost-effective and customer-focused as possible. Efforts include expanded choices in food and retail as well as five dual-fuel vessels that run on LNG and are expected to save $12 million per year when in full operation (based on current fuel price estimates).
“We will continue to look for cost savings, performance improvements, and the best and most creative ways possible to meet the needs of BC’s coastal communities, who rely on us to connect them to the places and people that are important in their lives,” said Corrigan.
The BC Ferries Commissioner is independent of government and the company. Under the Coastal Ferry Act, the BC Ferries Commissioner must approve the company’s major capital expenditures, including the Fare Flexibility and Digital Experience Initiative.

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Bosa Properties’ In-Building Cold Storage Allows Condo Dwellers Home Grocery Delivery While Away From Home

Dec 03, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – Bosa Properties today announced that Promontory at Bayview Place will be home to a BosaFresh facility –allowing residents the opportunity to receive home grocery delivery right to their door. To assist in growing home grocery delivery, Bosa has teamed up with Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery (SPUD.com) to provide access to a purpose-built facility in its condo towers, allowing residents to enjoy daily grocery deliveries while away from home. The facility is also available for any grocery service that residents choose.

The partnership between Bosa Properties and SPUD.com, and the purpose-built temperature controlled room at Promontory, makes the BosaFresh program the first of its kind in Canada. The initiative is also being launched at Bosa’s Lido homes in Vancouver. The move comes as online sales of food are poised to grow an estimated 13% annually across North America as part of trend towards greater convenience and rise in ecommerce across computers, tablets and smartphones.

“BosaFresh is another innovative feature we are offering residents of our properties, helping to make urban living even more convenient,” said Daryl Simpson, SVP of Bosa Properties. “We recognize that on-line shopping, and particularly home grocery delivery, is on the rise. Our relationship with a company like SPUD allows our home owners to take advantage of the tremendous benefits that home grocery delivery provides.”

“At SPUD.com, we’re looking forward to providing deliveries to residents of Promontory that is even more convenient than our standard service,” said Peter Van Stolk, CEO of SPUD.com. “BosaFresh will mean no more rushing home to ensure your milk, meat and fruit stays fresh. Cold storage will keep it well preserved until you’re ready to come home.”

“We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the experience of living in a condominium home, and place a great amount of time and energy on the process of innovation at Bosa Properties,” commented Simpson. “With BosaFresh™, residents at Promontory can take advantage of the phenomenal services that SPUD provides, as well as receive deliveries from other local merchants currently offering home delivery”.

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Huu-Ay-Aht First Nations Citizens Vote To Continue Exploring Proposed LNG Project At Sarita Bay

Dec 02, 2014

(News Release) PORT ALBERNI – Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Steelhead LNG are pleased to announce that they will continue to explore the proposed development of a US$30 billion LNG Project at Sarita Bay on Vancouver Island. This follows Huu-ay-aht citizens voting in favour of doing so today at the Nation’s People’s Assembly in Port Alberni. The proposed Project, which includes a 24‐mtpa (million tonnes per annum) land‐based facility, is one of the largest proposed LNG projects in British Columbia.

The People’s Assembly vote approves the lease of Huu-ay-aht Treaty Settlement Lands to the proposed Project and the carrying out of comprehensive environmental, traditional-use and technical studies in advance of a final investment decision expected in 2018. The vote comes after months of intensive community engagement with Huu-ay-aht citizens, which saw Huu-ay-aht government and staff members, Steelhead CEO Nigel Kuzemko and Steelhead LNG engineers and staff members meet regularly with Huu-ay-aht elders and citizens in Anacla, Port Alberni, Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. The work to address Huu-ay-aht citizen questions and concerns included community engagement sessions, home visits, visits for Steelhead LNG staff to key Huu-ay-aht cultural sites, as well as a tour of hydraulic fracturing operations in Alberta by Huu-ay-aht citizens.

“Today’s vote is an indication that our Nation is open for business and that certainty can be achieved for projects on First Nations territory in BC,” said Jeff Cook, Elected Chief Councillor of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. “The important thing to remember is that, as a Treaty Nation that is once again in control of natural resource projects on its territory, partnerships and certainty with us must be negotiated and earned on our terms and in accordance with the principles that have guided our Nation and our people for generations. Steelhead LNG’s approach and their respect for our people, our principles and our processes are an example of how companies should conduct business with First Nations.”

Steelhead LNG and the Huu-ay-aht will now carry out technical studies that will examine a wide range of environmental and engineering issues related to the proposed Project, including: air quality and emissions, fishing and freshwater resources, Huu-ay-aht traditional land use, marine issues (fishing, carrier traffic, crabbing, eel grass, marine habitats), wildlife (migratory birds, species at risk), noise, transportation and roads and socio-economic issues.

“While this vote represents an important milestone for our proposed Project, we recognize that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Kuzemko. “Huu-ay-aht citizens have identified a number of issues that are important to them, and we look forward to studying those issues closely with the Huu-ay-aht before a Final Investment Decision is made in 2018.”

If a Final Investment Decision to build the proposed LNG facility is made in 2018, it’s expected up to 4,000 jobs would be created during the construction phase, with 300 to 400 full-time jobs created when the plant is operational. In addition, the proposed Project would generate hundreds of spin-off jobs and business opportunities in the Alberni Valley in many sectors, including: business administration, hospitality, manufacturing, first aid, accommodation, recreation, tourism, transportation, catering, security and other service sectors. This includes local spin-off jobs with restaurants, schools, grocery stores, hotels, hospitals and providers of medical, business, heavy machinery maintenance, industrial and other services.

As the proposed Project moves into the feasibility stage, five new jobs for Huu-ay-aht citizens will be created in 2014 and early 2015 to support the different activities related to the next phase of technical studies. The first position will be for a Huu-ay-aht Employment Strategy Advisor, who will create a long-term education and training strategy for Huu-ay-aht citizens to secure the direct and spin-off jobs that will be created if the LNG facility goes ahead.

To that end, Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Steelhead LNG will work with the provincial government and Vancouver Island colleges, such as North Island College, Vancouver Island University and Camosun College, to develop new trades programs that would provide Huu-ay-aht citizens with funding and training for LNG project-related jobs such as pipefitters, welders, plumbers, iron workers, equipment operators and electricians. The long-term employment strategy for Huu-ay-aht citizens will also include capacity-building education and training for a wide range of administrative, technical and professional service careers such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, human resources officers and numerous other administrative positions.

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Queen Of Oak Bay To Undergo Major $7.7 Million Upgrade Project At Seaspan’s Vancouver Drydock

Nov 28, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – BC Ferries’ Queen of Oak Bay is commencing the first phase of a multi-million dollar three-quarter life upgrade tomorrow at Seaspan’s Vancouver Drydock in North Vancouver.


The vessel’s extensive upgrade will include the following safety and mechanical improvements:
• Critical systems renewals (piping and equipment)
• Propulsion overhauls and renewals
• Electrical distribution upgrades
• Elevator upgrades
• Installation of local application water mist on main engine room machinery
• Energy efficiency upgrades including LED lighting in machinery compartments and HVAC
upgrades
• Large scale steel renewal
• Regulatory surveys
“The Queen of Oak Bay project is part of the approximately $150 million that BC Ferries will spend in BC this year alone on annual vessel maintenance, refits and vessel upgrades,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering. “This extensive upgrade is an important investment in one of our major vessels which will ensure we maintain a safe, reliable and efficient service, and in the process, staying focused on fare affordability for the benefit of our customers.”
The 33-year old Queen of Oak Bay carries 360 vehicles and 1,488 passengers and crew. Following the first phase of this major project, the vessel will return to the Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay route in February 2015. The Queen of Coquitlam is currently replacing the Queen of Oak Bay in the meantime.
The second phase of the Queen of Oak Bay’s three-quarter life upgrade is scheduled from November 2015 through February 2016 at BC Ferries’ Fleet Maintenance Unit in Richmond. The remaining scope of the project includes upgrades to the passenger accommodations and services, energy efficiency upgrades, installation of state-of-the-art bridge and navigation systems, renewal of the steering systems, further electrical upgrades and replacement of end-of-life equipment.
The Queen of Oak Bay is the first of C-Class vessel to undergo a three-quarter life upgrade. The Queen of Surrey will follow with the first phase of its three-quarter life upgrade in Feb 2016.

The remaining C-Class vessels will undergo smaller asset betterments over the next four years starting with the Queen of Coquitlam in September 2015.
Under contract to the Province of British Columbia, BC Ferries is the service provider responsible for the delivery of safe, efficient and dependable ferry service along coastal British Columbia.

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Royal BC Museum Declared Best Museum in Canada

Nov 19, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA –  TripAdivsor.ca reviewers have declared the Royal BC Museum Number 1 in a list of the Top 10 Museums in Canada for 2014.

Along with this honour comes the continued declaration of the Royal BC Museum as a Travellers' Choice™ Winner, a title the museum and archives has held proudly for many years now.

Both awards honour top attractions worldwide based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travellers.

“It truly is an honour to receive this praise, especially knowing it comes not from a panel of experts or a single voice, but from the thousands of visitors who have come to the Royal BC Museum and have enjoyed their time here enough to tell others,” said Dr Scott Cooper, Vice President, Exhibitions Innovation. “We thank them all for their ongoing support and their kind words on TripAdvisor.”

Every year the Royal BC Museum welcomes almost a million visitors to its Victoria, BC site‎ (and another two million online). According to visitors surveyed in August 2014, 33 per cent said the primary reason they came to Victoria was to see the museum and archive’s major exhibition for 2014, Vikings.  Furthermore, 48 per cent of summer visitors were from out-of-province.

The Royal BC Museum would like to thank its visitors for providing feedback, singing our praises and rating us so highly on TripAdvisor.ca.

“TripAdvisor travellers have helped identify some of the best attractions around the globe,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “These award-winning attractions are an ideal starting point for taking in the world’s must-see sights.”

You can continue to provide us with your perspective online, or at the Royal BC Museum while your visit is still fresh in your mind. Comment cards are available at our box office or coat check.

The complete list of 2014 Travellers’ Choice Attraction winners can be found at: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/TravelersChoice-Attractions

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Strong Victoria Real Estate Market Again in October

Nov 04, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – The Victoria Real Estate Board today released its report on real estate activity in the Victoria area for October 2014.

602 properties sold in the Victoria region this October, an increase of 17.6% when compared to the 512 properties sold in the same month last year.

“Here we are again, a month in 2014 ending with more sales than in 2013,” Victoria Real Estate Board President Tim Ayres says. “This year has been a solid year for local real estate – indeed we are only 154 transactions away from meeting the total number of sales from 2013 – and there are two more months left in the year!”

The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core this time last year was $547,800. This month the benchmark value increased to $553,900.

“All year we’ve seen a decrease in the number of active listings and increase in sales compared to 2013 numbers,” adds President Ayres. “Last year at the end of October we saw 4,322 active listings, and this year we see 3,927 active listings, that’s a 9.1% change.”

Victoria Real Estate Board President Tim Ayres is available for comment. More information on the October 2014 report and the Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index is available from the Victoria Real Estate Board.

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Huu‐ay‐aht Leads the Way by Offering Employees Living Wage

Oct 29, 2014

(News Release) PORT ALBERNI – Huu‐ay‐aht will become the first First Nations community in Canada to adopt a living wage policy for all of its employees.

Out of respect for all Huu‐ay‐aht employees, executive council voted in favour of implementing a living wage policy on Friday, October 24. This will require that some adjustments to the minimum wage amounts in the existing wage and salary structure for employees. The decision was made based on the belief that B.C.’s current minimum wage is not high enough to meet the needs of families to promote health and wellbeing.

Huu‐ay‐aht believes people should not have to decide between paying rent and feeding their family, and with today’s high cost of living, this is a reality many people face. According to the Living Wage for Families Campaign, in 2013, 1.8 million employed people in Canada do not make enough to pull themselves above the poverty level. Many are forced to rely on food banks in order to get by. British Columbia has the second highest child poverty rate in Canada, and low wages are a key contributor. The 2013 Child Poverty Report Card found that 32% of poor children, more than 44,500 in BC, live in families with at least one adult working full time.

Huu‐ay‐aht believes that work should lift families out of poverty not keep them there.

“Too many of our people are living on minimum wage or below the poverty line,” explained Elected Chief Councillor Jeff Cook. “It is our hope that this will offer our employees choices other than to just survive and live pay cheque to pay cheque.”

In 2010, New Westminster became the first municipality to adopt a living wage policy. Currently, according to Living Wage Canada, 15 municipalities have calculated what their living wage would be. The range of wages is between $14.60 (Cranbrook) and $20.10 (Vancouver).

The living wage that has been calculated for Port Alberni is $17.22 per hour, or $33,579 annually. Using the Canadian Living Wage Framework as its guide, Huu‐ay‐aht has agreed to adopt this as their minimum wage. By doing so, it becomes the second community in BC to adopt a living wage policy for its employees.

“The Treaty has given us the ability to make decisions based on our values and goals, and implement those decisions in accordance with our own laws. The living wage policy shows how the Treaty gives us the ability to chart our own future,” said Councillor Tom Mexsis Happynook. “We have a long way to go to meet or exceed the living standards of Canadians, but this is a great step in the right direction.”

A living wage is different from minimum wage in that it takes into account the amount a family needs to cover basic expenses. These are the bare bones costs with no extras, but it is calculated as a total compensation, including wage and benefits. Where the minimum wage focuses on the needs of a lone individual, the living wage focuses on the needs of families and includes medical and health needs, food security, transportation, and skills development.

Huu‐ay‐aht wants more for its employees and its citizens. Part of the Huu‐ay‐aht Strategic Plan is to become an ’Employer of Choice’ in the Alberni‐Clayoquot Regional District. In order to foster a dedicated, skilled and healthy workforce, Huu‐ay‐aht First Nations believes it must pay a living wage to all of its employees. By doing so, they are making a significant investment in the future and building long‐term prosperity for the economy.

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Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards Starts Construction on Initial Production Blocks for First NSPS Vessel

Oct 28, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, announced today that Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards has started construction on two initial blocks for the first National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) ship, the Canadian Coast Guard’s Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (OFSV).

“We are thrilled to begin initial block construction on the OFSV and are grateful that Minister Finley is here to celebrate this milestone moment with us, said Brian Carter, President – Seaspan Shipyards. “We are proud to be Canada’s capability partner for Non-Combat vessels and are looking forward to continuing our service to the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy under the NSPS.”

The initial block construction coincides with the final phases of Seaspan’s Shipyard Modernization Project, a two-year, $200 million project, which once complete in November, will provide state-of-the-art facilities to efficiently deliver ships under the NSPS program for more than 20 years.

“Today’s announcement confirms that the NSPS is working to employ Canadians and generate economic opportunities within our shipbuilding and marine industrial base across the country,” said Brian Carter.

Seaspan’s NSPS build package will create stable work over the next decade for trades and suppliers throughout B.C. and across Canada. It is estimated that this work will create a total of 5,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs throughout the life of the build program, and produce almost $500 million per year in gross domestic product for B.C.’s economy.

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Harbour Authority Announces Interim Ceo

Oct 28, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA — Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s (GVHA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Rick Crosby, former Chief Executive and Operating Officer of the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC), will be joining GVHA as its interim CEO effective Wednesday, November 5, 2014.
“GVHA is pleased that Rick has agreed to serve in this interim role,” said Bill Wellburn, GVHA Chair. “His experience and leadership skills will ensure a smooth transition to a new CEO.”

Crosby retired from the PCC in May 2014 following a 33-year distinguished career with the BC public service. He has a very successful track record as an effective and highly competent leader in both good times and in challenging times, including supporting the smooth transition of business operations from the PCC to government. Crosby also has a good working knowledge of GVHA business operations, its inner harbour property assets and board governance.

“I’m looking forward to leading and supporting GVHA’s dedicated and hardworking staff,” said Crosby. “During the transition period to a new CEO, my primary focus will be to support the staff with running the day to day business operations, and the governance oversight of GVHA operations by the Board of Directors representing the community we serve.”

Outgoing President & CEO Curtis Grad will be leaving on Friday, November 7, 2014, providing a few days of a leadership overlap period in order to fully brief Crosby on current operations and future plans. Grad announced his departure from GVHA on Friday October 17, 2014 to take on the leadership of a new First Nations economic development company, Skwin’ang’eth Se’las, which was established in December 2013 jointly by the Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation and GVHA. The GVHA board is grateful for Grad’s three and half years of excellent executive leadership and would like to wish him all the best success in his new endeavour.

Crosby will serve at the helm of GVHA for the duration of the executive recruitment process for a permanent CEO. More details will be forthcoming in the weeks and months ahead.

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B.C. University Degree A Good Investment According To Class Of 2008 Graduate Survey

Oct 24, 2014

(News Release) VANCOUVER – A B.C. university degree is a proven path to employment and a good investment in the future says a new report released today by B.C.’s six research universities, which tracks the outcomes of the graduating class of 2008.

Called Putting Degrees to Work, the report uses student survey data collected by BC Stats showing that five years after graduating, the Class of 2008 has lower unemployment rates and higher salaries than those who did not complete an undergraduate degree.  Contrary to the view that university degrees aren’t relevant to today’s job market, the report shows that the vast majority of university graduates are working in fields related to their education.

“The Class of 2008 graduated on the cusp of the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Andrew Petter, Chair of the Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia. “Today’s survey shows that the skills and knowledge these students acquired at a B.C. university prepared them to take advantage of the economic recovery.”

According to the report’s findings, the graduating class of 2008 had an unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent five years after collecting their degrees.  This number was well below the overall provincial unemployment rate of 6.6 per cent and the provincial youth unemployment rate of 12.9 per cent.  At the same time, those graduates were earning a yearly average of $60,000.

“Today’s economy is driven by creativity, innovation, and new ideas,” said University of British Columbia President Arvind Gupta.  “That’s why the skills our students acquire are so important in today’s fast-changing labour market.”

In addition to tracking the Class of 2008, Putting Degrees to Work also shows how universities are responding to changing student demand.  Degrees in engineering, applied sciences and business have increased by 34 per cent since 2006.

“Today’s students are very savvy,” said University of Northern British Columbia President Daniel Weeks.  “And they are choosing fields that are in high demand by employers.  That is leading to significant changes in university programming to meet the needs of today’s students. For example, at the University of Northern B.C., we are graduating more engineers than ever before, students who will be needed in B.C.’s emerging LNG industry.”

University of Victoria President Jamie Cassels said that the survey reflects what employers around the province are telling him.  “Many of British Columbia’s leading job creators are looking for people with the kinds of skills that university teaches, from critical thinking to clear communication.   That is one reason why we are seeing graduates in every program succeed in the job market.”

Royal Roads University President Allan Cahoon added that “continuous learning opportunities provided by universities like Royal Roads are extremely valuable to employers who are looking for graduates who can adapt and respond to fast-changing labour market demands.”

“The success university graduates are having also shows that to keep B.C.’s economy growing, we need to graduate students at every level in post-secondary education, in science, in business, in the trades and in the humanities,” said Thompson Rivers University President Alan Shaver.  “To keep growing and generating new jobs, B.C.’s economy needs more people with post-secondary credentials.”

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City Receives Three Proposals in Response to Crystal Garden Market Sounding

Oct 24, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – This morning the Governance and Priorities Committee will receive information about three proposals submitted for potential uses for the City’s historic Crystal Garden. The City initiated “market sounding” closed Wednesday and resulted in proposals from Butterfly Gardens, Macaloney Brewers and Distilleries and Oceans Network Canada.

A market sounding was issued earlier this month to identify alternate opportunities for maximizing the Crystal Garden space, while supporting downtown vitality and embracing the historical significance of the building.

This is the first step in assessing market interest and potential for the property. Proposals will be presented for information to City Council this morning and made available to the community. The next steps in this process will also be discussed at the meeting.

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