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Victoria Blooms as Garden Destination of the Year

Mar 17, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Today the International Garden Tourism Network (IGTN) announced Victoria, B.C., as the Garden Destination of the Year. A total of nine awards were announced and Victoria was the only Canadian destination to receive an award.

"We are extremely honoured and humbled to receive this award," says Paul Nursey, President & CEO. "Greater Victoria’s garden product is world-class and garden tourism is a high-yield customer segment. We are pleased to welcome those interested in gardens to Greater Victoria year-round."

There are an estimated 250 million garden tourists worldwide. As per Tourism Victoria’s 2013 Destination Brand Study, green spaces and gardens are a primary strength for the destination. Forty-two per cent of visitors surveyed identified great green spaces and gardens as important when choosing a place to travel to. Over the past year, Tourism Victoria’s Media Relations department assisted key media such as Canadian Living, The Oregonian and Sun Xiaopeng with garden coverage, garnering in total circulation of more than 320 million viewers worldwide.

The IGTN is an initiative created to be the platform for stimulating more visits and business for gardens, horticulture exhibitions and flower festivals around the world by positioning them as an important part of a destination’s tourism experience. The IGTN Awards are presented annually to organizations and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourism attraction.

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Comox Valley is Making Waves with Natural Pastures and 40 Knots

Mar 17, 2015

(News Release) COMOX VALLEY — Long praised for its beautiful scenery and unique terroir, the Comox Valley is really shining this year as two local companies make waves on the award front. Natural Pastures Cheese Company receives nominations in the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, while 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate winery takes home a Silver at the New World International Wine Competition.

The Canadian Cheese Grand Prix began in 1998 and celebrates cheese achievement and innovation, bringing awareness to the quality and diversity of Canadian cheeses. On February 21st and 22nd, a panel of Canadian food industry experts gathered to select finalists from 268 cheeses submitted in 27 different categories. These cheeses really speak to the world-class caliber Canada produces.

Natural Pastures has four finalists in the running: their Cherry Bocconcini in the Fresh Pasta Filata; Comox Camembert and Comox Brie in the Soft Cheese with bloomy rind; and Naturally Smoked Boerenkaas in the Smoked Cheese.

Perfectly paired with these nominations lies 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery, who took home a Silver at the New World International Wine Competition for their 2012, Oporto style, Safe Haven wine. They were one of only 2 Canadian wineries to be awarded, making 40 Knots an international Canadian star.

The NWIWC is open to wines produced all over the world. Judges make their decisions based on price category, and each wine is judged against others of its type as well as its price peers in order to determine an overall best of variety or type.

But even better, these two companies spell out one of the world's best food pairings. Brenda, from 40 Knots recommends their Safe Haven Silver Medal Winner to be paired with Natural Pastures Aged Farmhouse cheese. She says it is "a wonderful pairing and is my favourite cheese." While Doug, from Natural Pastures, is a fan of the 40 Knots Whitecaps and thinks it pairs wonderfully with their Comox Brie (an award winner in its own right).

So with four nominations at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, and a Silver award at the NWIWC, is it any wonder that the Comox Valley should be celebrating. Natural Pastures and 40 Knots exemplify the possibilities present in a valley so rich in opportunity and excellence.

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Marketplace Connects Local Producers and Consumers to Grow a Sustainable Vancouver Island Food Economy

Mar 17, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Local food champions Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR), FarmFolk CityFolk and the Island Chefs’ Collaborative (ICC) are joining forces to present Get Ready, Get Local, a new local food and sustainable agriculture expo for Vancouver Island. The event will showcase Island foods, and the farmers, ranchers and fishers that produce it, alongside local food artisans, craft brewers, vintners, recognized chefs, culinary professionals and industry leaders including home food and garden professionals.

Capturing the energy and enthusiasm driving the local food movement on Vancouver Island, Get Ready, Get Local seeks to address specific business needs of local producers and buyers through networking and marketing opportunities and targeted workshops, and providing them with an opportunity to market their amazing local food products and services to a engaged public through a public marketplace.

CRFAIR coordinator Linda Geggie is excited to work with FarmFolk CityFolk and the ICC on this venture: "We have common goals of building a sustainable local food economy and believe we can help build Island food businesses by creating industry and public networking opportunities like this."

Get Ready, Get Local will also give the public a chance to "get local" with opportunities to sign up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) box, orient themselves with their local farmers' markets, or attend workshops on how to make the most out of the local food bounty, including preserving the harvest, backyard chickens and edible landscaping, for example.

Get Ready, Get Local will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the Victoria Conference Centre. The public marketplace will be open from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (admission $5), followed by an industry-only reception from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. For more information visit the event website www.getreadygetlocal.com. Advance tickets and tradeshow registration available through Eventbrite (Get Ready Get Local Vancouver Island).

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Tourism Victoria Congratulates City On Purchase of 812 Wharf Street

Mar 13, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Tourism Victoria congratulates the City of Victoria on their announcement today on the purchase of the key Inner Harbour property at 812 Wharf Street from the Province of B.C. The Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre is housed in this property and the organization looks forward to furthering their long-term partnership with the City.

"Tourism Victoria is pleased to see a strong, stable and progressive new owner of 812 Wharf Street," says Paul Nursey, President & CEO. "This location houses the critically important Visitor Centre and our organization looks forward to a healthy and productive relationship with the City for years to come."

The Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre saw a double digit increase in tickets sales for local businesses in 2014 and its strategic location in the Inner Harbour directly impacts the community. The Visitor Centre is the busiest in B.C., receiving a conservative estimate of 300,000 visitors in 2014 with the Centre closed for renovations in January and much of February. More than three million travellers visit Greater Victoria annually and visitors consistently go to the Visitor Centre for recommendations and information from Tourism Victoria’s Visitor Information Counsellors, to purchase tickets and engage with the communities’ businesses during their stay.

"This purchase demonstrates Council's support for our local economy and the importance Council places on the Inner Harbour," said Mayor Lisa Helps in the City’s release earlier this morning. "This is an investment that secures an important property in the heart of our key tourism and employment area. Long-long term it will generate new revenue for the municipality."

The property at 812 Wharf Street also houses four other tenant businesses including Milestones restaurant and Prince of Whales Whale Watching. The City and the Province will be working through the final aspects of the transaction in the coming week and the City continues to focus on Victoria’s top economic drivers: tourism, the harbour and the marine industry, Victoria’s role as an international gateway and investment properties of high value and relevance to the Capital City.

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Minimum Wage Indexing Provides Predictability

Mar 12, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Increases to the minimum wage have a very real, and direct effect on business, especially small business. Today's announcement regarding an increase to minimum wage comes after extensive government consultation with businesses. The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) commends the provincial government on implementing an increase to minimum wage in B.C. and a plan for future changes, giving businesses a window to plan and prepare.

"A raise is warranted," said Al Hasham, Vice-Chair of The Chamber. "Long-term planning of smaller incremental changes provides a foundation of predictability for small business and The Chamber looks to be engaged with the mechanisms around this ongoing process."

"This is a responsible move, with the degree of certainty that businesses appreciate," said John Winter, president and CEO of the BC Chamber. "This increase keeps BC competitive and aligns us with the minimum wages seen in other provinces."

The Chamber has always advocated for certainty. Most businesses are likely to be open to an idea that sees minimum wage tied to inflation through a consistent, and transparent formula that could give business the certainty they need around these issues, and this plan addresses that.

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Coastal Community Credit Union Opens Goldstream Village Location

Mar 12, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Coastal Community Credit Union, the largest financial services organization based on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, will open its newest location in Goldstream Village on Monday, May 4th, 2015.

News broke in January that Coastal Community would be expanding its operations in the Capital Regional District (CRD) in 2015. Along with the brand new Goldstream Village location, Coastal Community will also modernize its existing Fort Street Insurance office. Once the renovation is complete later this fall, the downtown core will have access to Coastal Community’s full suite of financial services—personal and business banking, insurance and wealth management—like its Goldstream Village counterpart.

"Our Victoria team, along with everyone in the organization, is very excited to open our doors to the Goldstream Village community on May 4th," says Moira Hauk, Coastal Community’s Regional Manager for South Vancouver Island. She adds, "We offer this vibrant community a look at progressive banking including some truly innovative banking conveniences, highly personalized service and a commitment to making meaningful contributions to the neighbourhood."

Located in Langford Centre at 752A Goldstream Avenue, Coastal Community's newest location will have operating hours of Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Coastal Community experts can also be accessed via the location's Interactive Teller Machine, or ITM, which is the first of its kind in the CRD. The ITM's secure, person-to-person live video capabilities, which provides a full range of teller services, will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Stay tuned to cccu.ca as well as Coastal Community's social media sites for more on the exciting promotions planned for the May 4th go-live date.

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Victoria Restaurant Ulla Takes On New Life as OLO

Mar 12, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — One of Victoria's renowned and much-beloved dining establishments is undergoing renovations and a rebirth. Ulla restaurant, located in Victoria's bustling Chinatown, has reopened its door refreshed and with the new OLO moniker.

Opened in 2010 by chef Brad Holmes and partner Sahara Tamarin, ulla has collected numerous accolades and awards. Among them include gold in Vancouver Magazine's "Best Victoria" restaurant category in 2012 and 2013 and a vote as one of Canada's best new restaurants by enRoute magazine.

Now the ulla team are excited to embark upon a new venture. Chef and owner Brad Holmes is partnering with Kris Barnholden, a friend and former colleague of Holmes, to launch OLO and take the restaurant in a new direction. Holmes and Barnholden will each take on the role of co-owner and chef, and are looking forward to growing the business with plans for future projects.

Opening its door refreshed as OLO, the new focus is on farm-to-table meals created from the bounty the island has on offer. Holmes and Barnholden will fill OLO's kitchen with quality B.C. ingredients, such as island-raised beef, fish plucked straight from nearby waters, and produce tenderly grown by our local farming friends. Each incorporated ingredient is purchased directly from hard-working neighbours who produce beautiful food with great care.

The bar program also highlights the region's bounties with an impressive list of B.C. distilleries, breweries and wineries. Perfectly mixed cocktails showcase local producers and ingredients, and boast a variety of whimsical infusions from foraged botanicals, shrubs from house-made vinegars, and healthful tonics from island spring water.

The dining area's design reflects the agricultural history of Canada with a playful modern twist, cultivating a warm yet lively atmosphere. OLO feels familiar while always offering fresh tastes for locals hungry for more than just a meal. The word "Olo" translates to "hungry" in Chinook Jargon, a derivative language of English, French, Chinese and Chinook. OLO celebrates Cascadia's role as a cultural melting pot by serving as a hub for neighbours to gather and break bread.

OLO is now open during the week, Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. until midnight, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. for late dinners. Weekend brunch service will begin on March 21; brunch hours are Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are available for dinner bookings, late night and brunch seating is available on a first come, first serve basis. The restaurant is located at 509 Fisgard St., Victoria, B.C. For more information, please call 250-590-8795, or visit OLO's website at olorestaurant.com.

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Call for Entries: 2015 Construction Achievements and Renovations of Excellence Awards

Mar 12, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — The Victoria Residential Builders Association announces the Call for Entry for the 2015 Construction Achievements and Renovations of Excellence (CARE) Awards of Vancouver Island.

"The CARE Awards is the premier event celebrating Canada’s leaders in sustainable West Coast design and construction," says Bill Patterson, Chair of the 2015 CARE Awards. "The public will be invited to join the celebration by voting for their favourite project during the People’s Choice Award contest in September."

The entry deadline for the 2015 CARE Awards is Monday, June 1, 4:00 pm, when all entries must be received at the VRBA office, #1-3690 Carey Rd, Victoria. The CARE Awards entry forms and criteria are online at www.vrba.ca. All entrants must be members of the Victoria Residential Builders Association, a registered non-profit organization promoting education and training, professionalism, consumer awareness and housing affordability.

The Gold winners will be announced at the CARE Awards gala on Saturday, October 17 at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Prior to the event, the public will be asked to select the winner of the annual People’s Choice Award from among the CARE Awards finalists. Project photos will be displayed at shopping centres and www.careawards.ca. Voters are entered to win a stay at Long Beach Lodge Resort, 2002 CARE Awards Project of the Year.

The CARE Awards finalists are selected by a panel of industry professionals using criteria such as architectural design, quality workmanship, creative use of space, and energy efficiency. The categories are Residential Planning Design & Construction; Interior Design; Commercial Planning & Design; Customer Service; Sales & Marketing; Special Achievement; and Special Interest.

"The CARE Awards is a members-only competition to ensure standards are maintained for consumer protection, including VRBA’s review of applicants and our Code of Ethics," says Casey Edge, Executive Director, VRBA. "Industry professionals with an interest in the CARE Awards are encouraged to apply for membership."

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Building Economic Momentum: Capital Investment Network Hosts Its Second Pitch & Mix Event

Mar 10, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — The Capital Investment Network (CIN) has proven once again that Victoria’s private investors are not only interested in supporting local entrepreneurs—they are willing to talk money.

Pitch & Mix II, held last week at the Spacestation, was a fast-paced session where entrepreneurs were given the floor for five minutes to present their concepts to an audience of private investors actively looking for opportunities. Networking followed the presentations to allow further discussion and encourage appointments between entrepreneurs and investors.

Bringing local angel investors together to stimulate economic growth and prosperity in the region is precisely the aim of CIN. The first Pitch & Mix event was held last October and the requests for a second event started coming in immediately after—a clear indication of the success of the event and of the eagerness of local entrepreneurs to bring their businesses to the next level right here at home.

The 11 businesses—from pre-revenue to multi-million dollar enterprises—at Pitch & Mix II represented an impressive variety of sectors.

  • TeamFit: Next-generation talent management and a marketplace for people who build project teams and the people who want to get on them.
  • Rosterbot: A team-management service used by nearly 10,000 teams in 60+ countries for more than 400 different types of sport and activity.
  • Content4Good: Creators of socially conscious games that make learning entertaining, inspiring players to improve the real world.
  • Stem Shock: A programmable, GMO-free herbicide technology that uses RNA interference (RNAi) to kill only the weed, while sparing the environment.
  • Guusto: A mobile gifting app that sends food and drinks to clients and friends in 250 cities across Canada and donates one day of clean drinking water for every app download and every gift sent.
  • MyBestHelper: A web, mobile web, and iOS marketplace for families to find child and elder care providers, as well as myCrew, an application enabling families to coordinate and share care.
  • ITT: Designing, developing, and testing wireless M2M tracking solutions for two distinct markets: GGV products for Technical Investigators and the Salus Care Ring for Health Care.
  • Sitka: A successful clothing brand over the last decade that is in position to begin building from what they’ve learned and is a brand capable of putting Victoria on the map.
  • Curatio: A patient matchmaking solution that delivers private, personalized patient communities on a closed mobile network.
  • Pledg.ly: A free SaaS tool that empowers employees to support causes and enables companies to showcase their commitment to social responsibility to attract and retain talent.
  • Travel Cubed: A cloud-based platform for the tourism industry to conduct comprehensive B2B business on line.

Former VIATeC CEO Bob Skene attended the event and says, "I was blown away by the energy and the imaginative business propositions put forward." That’s exactly the kind of response Stephanie Andrew, president and co-founder of CIN with Peter Elkins, likes to hear.

"Our goal is to help local investors connect with high-quality local companies. The phenomenal calibre of companies pitching at the most recent event was obvious to everyone in the room. As a result of the event, a number of local investors are now doing due diligence and are considering investments in the companies that presented." Plans for the next Pitch & Mix session are already in the works for May 1.

CIN is a private equity forum for Vancouver Island that offers investor-focused education, resources, and events to increase the level of sophistication and deal flow among local angel investors, explore different investment approaches, facilitate collaboration, and grow the local investment community.

Pitch & Mix sessions are just one of the ways the CIN is spurring economic development in Victoria. CIN also hosts a Private Equity Investment Education series as well as other private investor events.

Investors who are interested in learning more about the CIN are invited to attend an event as a guest.



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Nominations for 2015 Royal Roads University Alumni Awards Open Until April 30

Mar 10, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — The Alumni Awards honour outstanding alumni who have achieved inspiring success in their life and career. The Alumni Excellence Award recognizes a Royal Roads alumnus who brings meaningful and positive change to their workplace, community or the world. The Alumni Leadership Award recognizes an alumnus who is a significant and successful leader. The Alumni Leadership Award is open to ex-cadets from the former military colleges at Royal Roads.

The awards give deserving alumni the opportunity to reconnect with the Royal Roads community and allow the university to celebrate their achievements and contributions. The Alumni Awards represent the ongoing legacy of 75 years of learning and leadership at Royal Roads, and our vision to connect people, ideas and experience to change lives and the world.

The recipients will be honoured at a celebratory event in Victoria in September hosted by the university. Past award winners include South Sudanese journalist Mading Ngor, former chief of the Calgary Fire Department Bruce Burrell and Deloitte diversity leader Jackie Scales.

The Alumni Awards are sponsored by the Parkside Hotel and the Times Colonist.

Learn more about the awards at www.royalroads.ca/alumni-awards.

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Schneider Electric 'Top of Industry' For Energy Savings

Mar 10, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Schneider Electric is in the business of supplying their worldwide customers with products that help them make the most of their energy, and the company's Victoria location is leading by example.

Victoria's Schneider Electric is one of the first companies in Canada to achieve ISO 50001 certification and superior energy performance after reducing the energy to run their operations by more than 30 percent.

ISO 50001 is a standard that defines requirements for implementing an energy management system. The goal of this standard is to drive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while controlling energy costs.

The certification was issued to Schneider Electric's Victoria site in January 2015. The site achieved the highest certification possible (Superior Energy Performance - Platinum) after realizing energy savings of $375K over three years. Only a handful of companies in North America have been successful in achieving this level of reduction.

"We are in the business of helping our customers become energy efficient so it is important for us to lead by example,” said Dave Clark, facilities and environment manager. "With energy, the more you consume the more you pay, so it just makes business sense to reduce."

More than 300 people work in Schneider Electric's Victoria facilities. Their energy reduction certification project took five months and involved, in part, replacing their 3rd-party building automation system with one they make themselves.

"Ultimately, in order to reduce energy consumption we need to control it, and to do that we first needed to measure how much we are using," said Clark. "This allowed us to analyze our usage and then set an ambitious goal for ourselves."

The energy management systems designed and built at the Schneider Electric Victoria site on Keating Cross Road are distributed to customers around the world. In 2014, the Victoria plant exported more than 120,000 products globally. The ISO50001 certification was important to the team in Victoria because it helped to demonstrate the same commitment to efficiency that their customers are looking for.

"We are one of the largest technology companies on Vancouver Island," said Clark, "but any sized company can find energy efficiency opportunities and enhance their bottom line."

To reduce their own energy, the Schneider Electric team in Victoria used several different products, including the replacement of the controllers on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC).

"The automated system does the work for us, so no one is impacted by the changes," said Clark. "In other words, everything happened without our employees having to sacrifice their comfort at work."

Victoria's site reduced CO2 emissions by 880 metric tons over three years, taking the equivalent of 62 cars off the road each year. However, beyond the direct energy savings at the Victoria site, employees at Schneider Electric feel deep pride in working at a company that has been contributing to solving the global energy dilemma for years. Over the last 30 years, it is estimated that the Victoria plant alone has helped customers around the world reduce emissions by 17 million metric tons or 13 million cars off the road.

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Young Leaders Connection: Spring Training Seminars for Youth

Mar 10, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Young Leaders Connection (YLC) is designed to help young people between the ages of 17 and 24 develop their leadership styles and abilities. The two-day training seminars focus on emotional intelligence (EQ) as it applies to leadership and communication and are offered in two streams, one for women and one for men.

The new seminars are being offered by Camosun College’s Continuing Education department in partnership with Engalen, a B.C.-based company. The seminars include yoga, creative visioning, goal setting and a community service learning project.

"With an idle market saturated with job seekers, Young Leaders Connection steps up to the gate offering an opportunity for youth to raise their own bar and become leaders of their own learning," says Engalen consultant Laura Zeman, the designer and facilitator of YLC. "Through a fun, creative and engaging approach, participants can leverage information and tools for their personal and professional development."

The seminars will be held at Camosun's Lansdowne campus, from 9:30am-4:30pm each day. The Young Women's Workshop is scheduled for April 11 and May 9 and the Young Men's Workshop will run April 12 and May 10. Upon completion, participants will have the option to test their EQ and receive a one-on-one coaching session. Cost is $199 + GST (not including the EQ assessment) and registration is now open.

For more details and to register, visit camosun.ca/ce.

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Harbour Authority Annouces Appointment of Ian Robertson as CEO

Mar 09, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Ian Robertson as GVHA’s Chief Executive Officer. 

Mr. Robertson is currently the CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC).  He has over 30 years’ experience developing business solutions in companies ranging from Procter and Gamble through the Jim Pattison Group and Rocky Mountaineer.  He has also held elected office for six years as Commissioner, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, where he served as Chair. 

“We are delighted to appoint a CEO who brings great leadership experience to GVHA. He understands GVHA’s role as a steward of important harbour assets and he’s keen to engage the many stakeholders who share an interest in Victoria’s harbour,” said GVHA Board Chair Bill Wellburn.  “This appointment follows an extensive search and a rigorous hiring process.  Our search was aided by the input of our Member Agencies, GVHA’s Life Members, staff, and many of our key customers and stakeholders.   We are grateful for their perspectives.”

Mr. Robertson joins GVHA at a pivotal time.  The Board and staff have been developing a new Strategic Plan that will guide GVHA’s activities over the next 10 years.  A second round of consultations seeking additional input on the Strategic Plan with Member Agencies will be initiated in the weeks ahead, followed by public consultation involvement in late spring.  Mr. Robertson will have the opportunity to put his mark on the Strategic Plan and then take charge of the development and implementation of the strategies and plans that follow.

“I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity,” said Mr. Robertson.  “I look forward to leading the GVHA team, and meeting with the many stakeholders who share an interest in Victoria’s spectacular harbour.”

Mr. Roberson will take up his appointment effective April 27, 2015.  He will be overseeing his first cruise season with over 500,000 passengers and 200,000 crew scheduled to visit Victoria.  Until that time GVHA is grateful to have Mr. Rick Crosby, Interim CEO, at the helm.

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