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Online Guide Helps Potential Restauranteurs Find Info

Jan 22, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — The B.C. government has released a new online guide to make it easier to start a restaurant in British Columbia.

The guide provides a downloadable, step-by-step checklist that includes timelines so you can track your progress to start a restaurant. It covers a range of information from drafting the necessary health and safety plans, to applying for permits and licences with local and provincial governments.

Entrepreneurs can also source practical information online about:

  • business planning;
  • location and zoning;
  • applying for permits and licences;
  • preparing for inspections;
  • hiring employees; and
  • on-going, operational requirements.

The online guide and checklist were developed in partnership with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association using research gathered through restaurant owners and municipal staff in three pilot communities: Victoria, North Vancouver, and Kelowna. This research identified common experiences and opportunities to improve and streamline government services for the restaurant sector.

The restaurant industry plays a vital role in B.C.’s economy, employing more than 175,000 British Columbians and generating more than $10 billion in annual sales.

The online guide delivers on the commitment made by Minister Yamamoto during Red Tape Awareness Week in January 2014 to develop an online roadmap to start up and operate a restaurant in B.C.

To view the online guide, please visit: www.gov.bc.ca/startingarestaurant

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Local scientist Brings New Ultrafiltration Process to Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt

Jan 21, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA – Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt is pleased to launch its unique artisan Greek yogurt made from 100% Canadian milk at the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson, today, during the Farmers’ Market. The company’s gourmet yogurt, which is made from fresh whole milk from local grass-fed cows, is unique to the yogurt aisle, because the thick and luscious texture is created without any milk powders, fillers or thickeners.

In just two years, the company has grown to serve farmers’ markets, restaurants and over 75 grocers on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver.

Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt was started in Courtenay, B.C. two years ago by microbiologist Scott DiGuistini, PhD. and his wife Merissa Myles. Committed to the local food movement, the couple settled in the Comox Valley where they could combine DiGuistini’s scientific experience and Myles’ passion for food and the Island’s source of grass-fed milk to create a high-quality, grass-fed yogurt not otherwise available in Canada. Research shows that grass-fed milk contains more Omega 3s, Beta Carotene and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).

“We developed recipes for grass-fed yogurt without any fillers because we are passionate about the benefits for humans, cows and the land,” says Myles. “Management of pasture land with grass and forage crops is also good for soil ecology, plant biodiversity and for maintaining wildlife habitat.”

Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt was an instant success due to its delicious recipes using 100% fresh local dairy. Tree Island’s Greek Yogurt comes in a variety of decadent gourmet flavours inspired by traditional recipes from the Mediterranean and the Silk Road, including Natural, Chai Latte, Lemon, Orange Blossom & Cardamom, and other seasonal flavours.

To meet the enormous demand for more of the labour-intensive, artisan Greek yogurt product line, the couple had to innovate. DiGuistini led a one-year project to adapt a ceramic-filtration system for making extra rich and luscious Greek yogurt without thickeners. The technology removes the water from milk to naturally thicken the yogurt as the authentic Greek recipes require.

“This type of machine is commonly used for water purification, but we have adapted it to work here for artisan dairy processing. We are the first in B.C. to implement the technology,” explains DiGuistini. “This is much different than competitors’ ‘Greek-style’ yogurts, which use skim milk powder, modified milk ingredients, or milk protein concentrate to thicken their yogurts. We can trace our milk ingredients back to the farm and guarantee that they are free of antibiotics and bovine growth hormones.”

Tree Island was able to complete this project with $171,850 in funding provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture through the Canada-B.C. Agri-Innovation Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The program is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. (IAF).

“Helping a small-scale food processor like Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt expand production while maintaining quality is one of the many ways Agri-Innovation funding is keeping the industry competitive,” says IAF Chair Ken Bates. “We continue to support projects that advance agricultural innovation and competitiveness in B.C.”

“The IAF provided matching funds that go a long way to help us increase production of our gourmet Greek yogurt and meet consumer demand for local, grass-fed dairy as we expand into major grocery stores,” says DiGuistini. “Most importantly, using this technology allows us to stay true to the original method for making yogurt, using just whole milk and bacterial culture.”

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub Chef Ali Ryan, a Director with the Island Chefs’ Collaborative, is already a fan of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt, and used it for cooking demonstrations during the launch event. 

“We use this product in our restaurant because it has amazing texture and it’s grass-fed. We believe in supporting local, Vancouver Island-based food producers,” said Ryan. The Island Chef’s Collaborative is committed to supporting local food producers and is dedicated to sustainable agriculture practices and the ability of future generations to meet their food needs.

Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt is available in Victoria at stores including The Root Cellar, Village Green Grocer, The Market Stores, Lifestyle Markets, Country Grocer, Pepper’s, Red Barn Markets, and will be on Thrifty’s shelves in early 2015. In Vancouver, Whole Foods Market and other natural food stores are carrying this product. Find out more about Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt online: www.treeislandyogurt.com.

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Local Businesses Warned: Imposter Using BBB’s Good Name

Jan 21, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — BBB serving Vancouver Island is warning local businesses to be on the watch for an imposter targeting companies and pretending to be a BBB representative updating business information. BBB has received an influx of calls recently from a number of concerned companies that have been contacted via phone by a person claiming to work for the “Better Business Bureau in Victoria,” and requesting detailed information from the company to “update their profile.”

Businesses who have been contacted by this imposter report that:

  • Their call display shows either an unknown phone number, unavailable phone number or the phone number listed as 1-000-012-3456;
  • When the company asks any questions or if they can call back, the caller immediately hangs up on them; and
  • The questions being asked include information such as business contact information, the number of employees working at the business, the total number of computers used at the company and email addresses for each employee.

“We have no idea at the moment who is out there falsely using the BBB’s name to collect information from businesses, nor what exactly their ultimate angle is,” said Rosalind Scott, President & CEO of BBB serving Vancouver Island. “Other BBBs in North America have also reported receiving calls from local businesses about their BBB’s name being used in a similar situation.”

“At this time we can only speculate that the imposter is part of some sort of scam to collect information from businesses that they can sell to a third party, use as part of a fake directory/invoice/fee for service type of scam, or for the purposes of company identity theft,” states Scott. “This is a frustrating situation for us at BBB because we do in fact often call businesses to legitimately update the information on a company’s BBB Business Review. The difference, however, is that our staff are always transparent about their reason for calling, will happily provide you with their contact information (including name, title, phone, extension and email) and our phone number is always recognizable on call display as being the Better Business Bureau.”

If your company receives a suspicious, unsolicited call from someone with an unfamiliar name claiming to represent BBB (or any organization for that matter) be sure to:

  1. Ask the caller to verify their identity and reason for calling.
  2. Ask to call back and write down the caller’s name and phone number / extension number.
  3. If you have call display compare the information on the call display with what the caller is claiming.
  4. Look up the main number for the local branch of your BBB or the agency the caller claims to represent and ask to be directed to the person who contacted you.
  5. Refuse to give out private or unnecessary company information to just anyone who calls claiming to be from a legitimate sounding organization.
  6. Inform us at BBB that your company has become a target of such a suspicious call and provide us with as many details as possible.

If a company wishes to update the information on their BBB Business Review they can do so by contacting BBB via phone, mail, fax, email or go directly to: www.bbb.org/vancouver-island/updatecompany.

For more information about scams, frauds and tips to protect yourself go to: bbb.org/Vancouver-island.

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Local Business Gives Percentage of Profits to Scholarship Fund

Jan 19, 2015

(News Release) NANAIMO – Social Sticks, a Nanaimo-based social media marketing business, has announced that five percent of its future profits will be going into a scholarship fund. When the fund reaches $1,000, it will be awarded to a first-year student enrolling in a marketing, social media or communications program at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Royal Roads University or Vancouver Island University. 

“It’s really my clients who are making this happen,” says Social Sticks founder Kyla Karakochuk.

Karakochuk strongly believes in the value of a post-secondary education and has chosen to give back to the two schools she attended, including BCIT and Royal Roads. She also chose VIU because she wants to invest in the community in which she lives.

“This is a small but effective way that to support students pursuing a career in marketing, social media or communications and give back to the community.” Says Karakochuk. Social Sticks specializes in social media marketing and communications. The company is based in Nanaimo, with clients across Vancouver Island. Social Sticks recently celebrated two years in business (January 2015). Kyla Karakochuk is an active member of the Young Professionals of Nanaimo (YPN) and has lived in Nanaimo on and off for 15 years.

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M.V. COHO Takes Annual Maintenance Break

Jan 19, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Black Ball Ferry Line’s M.V. COHO takes its annual maintenance break from January 19 through February 4, 2015. The ferry, which runs between Victoria, B.C. and Port Angeles, Wash., will be out of service during this time to complete regular refurbishments and maintenance.

The M.V. COHO’s last sailings prior to the break will be on January 18, 2015 sailing at 8:20 a.m. from Port Angeles and at 10:30 a.m. from Victoria.

Regular service will resume on February 5, 2015 when the M.V. COHO departs Port Angeles at 8:20 a.m. and Victoria at 4 p.m.


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Recognition is Good for Business

Jan 15, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA – Rising above the noise of other businesses can be a challenge. With so many businesses in the captial region, a little name recognition can go a long way. Friday January 16th, 2015 marks the one-month countdown to the nomination deadline for the Greater Victoria Business Awards. The annual event, held by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) celebrates the success of businesses in our region.

“This is an exciting time of year, when businesses get nominated and we can see great local examples of businesses that are succeeding in our community,” said Bruce Carter, CEO of The Chamber. “We encourage anyone in the community to nominate a business that they believe deserves recognition for what they do. If you are a business owner or an employee that would like the community to know what you are doing you can even nominate yourself.”

The awards recognize all types of businesses as well as individuals and include categories from Business Leadership and Innovation to Young Entrepreneur and Sustainable Business Practices. In addition, the Lifetime Achievement award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the business community over the last 35 years. Recent recipients include community leaders Keith Dagg and Bob Skene.

Big Wheel Burger was the 2014 winner for Sustainable Business Practices. “After receiving the award from The Chamber, we really gained momentum in educating people, not only about our sustainability but also how easy it can be for others,” said Jason Ducklow, Owner of Big Wheel Burger. “We also received positive feedback for the professionally produced video, which we shared on our website and social media platforms.”

The Awards Gala is a sell-out event every year. This year’s Awards Gala will be held in May with tickets going on sale in April.

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Victoria Whisky Festival Celebrates Ten Years of Great Drams

Jan 14, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — As the world converges on Victoria to celebrate everything Whisky, the Victoria Whisky Festival is celebrating 10 years of appreciating the world’s best drams. Since its inception the Festival has more than doubled the number of whiskies and the number of countries represented at the Festival. It is a reflection of the variety and number of whiskies that are being produced worldwide – and the international interest in them.

This year the Victoria Whisky Festival will showcase over 250 whiskies made in 50 distilleries from nine countries. For the first time, France has joined the lineup which also includes Scotland, Ireland, England, Canada, United States, Japan, Taiwan and India.

Since its inception, proceeds from the Victoria Whisky Festival have supported a variety of charitable initiatives. By the end of the tenth year the Victoria Whisky Festival will have donated over $200,000 to organizations including the T.L.C. Fund For Kids and Victoria Crime Stoppers.

Growth in the Festival’s events and the number of whiskies present is representative of the growth of whisky producers and appreciators around the world. The first year the Festival showcased 100 whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, United States and Canada. A tasting event was held Friday evening and four Masterclasses were held on Saturday followed by a grand tasting. The number of Master classes jumped from 4 Masterclasses to 15 in the second year. The Festival has grown to include 36 Master classes, plus eight Grand Tastings on Thursday and Friday, and concludes with VIP and consumer tastings on Saturday evening.

“Interest has grown immensely in whisky and in the distilleries that make them,” says Lawrence Graham, President, Victoria Whisky Festival. “People are interested in the details of how the spirit is made and where it comes from. More and more people are coming with their notebooks and asking questions about influences on the whisky. People are showing a much more serious interest than ever before and it’s part of what makes the Festival so popular with distillers from around the world.”

The 2015 Festival features more women presenters than any previous Festival. Six women will present grand tastings and masterclasses covering a broad spectrum of the whisky world. Presenters include Annabel Meikle, global ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society; Johanne McInnes, Canada’s “Whisky Lassie”; Georgie Bell, global ambassador for Mortlach Distillery; Alwynne Gwilt, Miss Whisky Founder and Editor; Tish Harcus, Brand Ambassador for Canadian Club and Beth Havers, Canadian brand ambassador for Balvenie.

“We have seen the percentage of female attendees increase significantly in the last few years. Women are discovering that the immense range of whisky styles appeal to a range of tastes. And women aren’t afraid to give them a try,” says Graham.

This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Canadian Whisky Awards which celebrates the best in Canadian Whisky produced across the country. Distillers will come together with whisky enthusiasts on January 15 to recognize the best in the Canadian industry. Winners will be posted at www.canadianwhisky.org.

The Victoria Whisky Festival is held annually at the Hotel Grand Pacific. The Festival hosts three days of events including Masterclasses, consumer tastings and a Grand Tasting. Presenters come from around the world. The proceeds of the Victoria Whisky Festival are donated to charitable organizations. Details at www.victoriawhiskyfestival.com.

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Capital Regional District to Consider Forming Wastewater Select Committee for Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay

Jan 09, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA - The Capital Regional District (CRD) Core Area Liquid Waste Management Committee passed a motion on January 7 recommending that the CRD Board approve the formation of a Wastewater and Resource Recovery Select Committee for the Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay participants of the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan (CALWMP).

Under the new CRD Select Committee Framework, this Select Committee would allow the municipalities of Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay to take a leading role in identifying wastewater treatment options for their communities as part of a comprehensive regional solution.

If approved, the Select Committee will be supported by the CRD and municipal staff to develop and evaluate sub-regional treatment options for their communities, conduct costing exercises and work with other municipalities to optimize existing conveyance infrastructure.

Last November, westside participants (Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, View Royal, and Songhees First Nation) developed the Westside Wastewater and Resource Recovery Select Committee and initiated the Westside Solutions Project to engage citizens to work collectively to identify solutions for wastewater treatment and resource recovery that meet the unique needs of the westside. An engagement campaign with westside residents, including a series of open houses and an online survey, is currently underway.

Public consultation will remain a focus for each Select Committee. Sub-regional wastewater treatment plans that are produced through these Select Committees could form the basis for an amendment to the CRD’s CALWMP.

The municipalities of Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood and Langford and the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations collectively are participants of the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Service which is managed and operated by the CRD in accordance with the CALWMP. The Province has confirmed that the CRD is responsible for implementing secondary wastewater treatment in the core area within timelines prescribed in the CALWMP.

For more information on the Select Committee or on how the CRD is planning for wastewater treatment, please visit: www.crd.bc.ca/wastewater.

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Thrifty Foods' Customers Donate Over $90,000 Plus Bagged Groceries to Local Families

Jan 09, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA – Mustard Seed Executive Director Colin Tessier and Thrifty Foods Victoria-area store managers Jim Fuller, Daryl Fediw and Brian Boizard gathered at the grocer’s Saanichton warehouse and head offices Friday to mark the wrap-up of the Thrifty Foods Food for Families fundraiser. The retail and food bank leaders celebrated another year of selfless sharing by their local communities, demonstrated by a total of $90,317.50 worth of fresh food dollars donated to 15 local food banks, in addition to the hundreds of bags of non-perishable food items also collected at Thrifty Foods stores throughout the holidays.

“The giving nature of our customers amazes me year after year,” said Thrifty Foods General Manager Jim Dores. “We know that family resources are tight during and after Christmas gift-giving, yet each and every store received generous cash donations at the checkout as well as non-perishable goods donated by the bag.”

Food for Families is a food bank fundraiser created by Thrifty Foods that supports both cash and food donations within 15 distinct communities served by Thrifty Foods stores. Customers were invited to donate their choice of cash or non-perishable food items from December 6, 2014 to January 6, 2015, and several stores hosted special events on site to generate more awareness for the annual food bank drive.

“Many, many thanks to the customers of Thrifty Foods for this ongoing generosity,” said Tessier. “We support over 7,000 local people per month through The Mustard Seed Food Bank and many of those are small children, so food and finances that come our way build a stronger community for the future, as well as the present.”

The Thrifty Foods Food for Families fundraiser has raised over $1 million in fresh food donations since 2008 and countless truckloads of non-perishable donations for food banks in local communities. Food banks benefiting from the 2014 fundraiser, in addition to Victoria’s Mustard Seed Food Bank, include: Goldstream (West Shore), Sidney Lions (Saanichton and Sidney), CMS Food Bank (Mill Bay), the Cowichan Valley Basket Society, Saltspring Island Community Services, Loaves & Fishes Community Food Bank (Nanaimo), Salvation Army Parksville Mt. Arrowsmith, Comox Valley Food Bank, and the Campbell River & District Food Bank Society, SHARE Food Bank in the Tri-Cities, the South Delta Food Bank, White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank (also referred to as 'Sources'), the Vancouver Food Bank Association, and Friends in Need in Maple Ridge.

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Local Frozen Yogurt business Expands its Menu by Offering Healthy Alternatives to Traditional Fast Food

Jan 08, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Josh Kalef, owner of Kulture Frozen Yogurt, has expanded his successful local
frozen yogurt business in opening FreshCoast Health Food Bar. 
FreshCoast provides quick and nutritious options for people on the go. This new and unique concept will build on Joshʼs commitment that was created with his frozen yogurt to source locally-produced products with a strong focus on environmental sustainability.

One of the key features of FreshCoast is its in-house production of cold pressed juices, a technique which presses instead of heating and blending, thereby retaining more nutrients. FreshCoast will be the first restaurant in Victoria to offer cold pressed juice on-tap. The health food bar will offer a creative menu with many healthy food options, including salads, wraps and smoothies made fresh to order. The unique “store- within-a-store” will still feature its "build it yourself" Kulture Frozen Yogurt and take home pints with over 75 original flavours to share with the family.

"Victoria is a health-conscious population that cares about nutrition, but we are also a social and busy community, so we wanted to create something fast and healthy," says Josh.

Josh has employed the extensive health food experience of chef and
restaurateur, Cosmo Meens, to provide healthy options for customers to eat in or take- away. The operating model emphasizes strong bottom-line values – Passion, People and Planet. FreshCoast is working with local businesses and non-profits to minimize
its carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet. As new members of 1% for the Planet, FreshCoast will be donating 1% of all sales to local non-profits committed to protecting and enriching the environment.

FreshCoast will also be the second business in the Hillside and Cedar Hill X Rd complex to be certified by the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification.

FreshCoast, located at #202 – 3749 Shelbourne St. will be celebrating their Grand Opening on Saturday, January 24th 2015. During regular business hours 11am to 5pm FreshCoast will offer a 25% discount food, drink and frozen yogurt. The evening will host the Grand Opening Party from 7-10pm. Members of media and the local community can RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Grand Opening will help customers to fulfill their New Year's Resolutions for healthy living by offering fresh ingredients, whole delicious foods for every palate and creative options to meet those goals.

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Canadian Club Victoria Luncheon Featuring Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada and MP, Saanich Gulf Islands

Jan 06, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Elizabeth May is the featured speaker at the Canadian Club luncheon on Tuesday, January 20 at the Harbour Towers Hotel in Victoria.  Her presentation is entitled “Taking Action on Climate Change: Locally and Globally."

Elizabeth May has a long record as a committed and dedicated advocate -- for social justice, for the environment, for human rights, and for economic pragmatic solutions. She is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer who has been active in the environmental movement since 1970.

Elizabeth is the author of eight books, most recently “Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada” (Greystone, 2014). Among her many awards are the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Sierra Club, the International Conservation Award from the Friends of Nature and the United Nations Global 500 Award.  She was named one of the world’s leading women environmentalists by the United Nations in 2006. I

In 2006, Elizabeth was elected the Green Party’s ninth leader at their national convention in August 2006. In the 2011 Election, Elizabeth made history by being the first Green Party candidate to be elected to the House of Commons. She now represents the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands.   In 2012, she was voted Parliamentarian of the Year, 2013 she was voted Hardest Working MP, and in 2014 she was voted Best Orator by her colleagues in the House of Commons. Elizabeth was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005. In November, 2010, Newsweek magazine named her “one of the world’s most influential women.”

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Database Highlights First Nations' Economic Development Opportunities

Jan 06, 2015

(News Release) VICTORIA — Businesses, Aboriginals and investors looking to do business with First Nations in B.C. have a new tool to track the wide range of related economic activities with the First Nations Economic Development Database (FNEDD).

This is the first time that a comprehensive, searchable database of First Nations’ economic activity has been made available online. The tool was developed by the Aboriginal Business and Investment Council in partnership with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.

More than 1,100 First Nations businesses and potential business partners are registered in the online database, which also collects information from a number of public sources. The database includes details about First Nations communities, companies and economic development agreements, as well as their relationship to major projects throughout the province.

Many First Nations are active leaders and partners with government and industry in developing the resource wealth found in their traditional territories. The database is a clear demonstration of just how First Nations are engaging in economic development and a wide range of business ventures.

Businesses and investors looking to partner with First Nations, and Aboriginal companies wanting to make sure they are part of the database, can get the information they need by visiting: https://www.fnedd.ca/about.html

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Year-to-Date Results Show Continued Strong Tourism Growth

Dec 30, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – As 2014 comes to a close Greater Victoria’s tourism businesses are celebrating a successful year in an industry that continues to recover and create a path for future growth in 2015.

Chemistry Consulting Group’s November 2014 Victoria Tourism Bulletin will be released in full in early January but indicators show growth over 2013, with a significant increase year-over-year in Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR).

“We are very pleased with 2014 and particularly pleased with the growth in the shoulder season,” says Paul Nursey, President & CEO. “It’s incredibly important to build the shoulder season business to support our strong high season, and we will continue to do so in 2015.”

Tourism Victoria is preparing for 2015 with various upcoming campaigns and events including a romance campaign through late January and February and bold broadcast campaign from March through June. More emphasis will also be placed on the meetings and conventions business.

“Closer collaboration with the Victoria Conference Centre is key to the destination’s success,” says Nursey. “Together we share the same objective to build the business. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels; at Tourism Victoria we are working even harder with our members and partners to position Greater Victoria for long-term, sustained success."

With the support of valued members, municipalities and the Victoria Hotel Destination Marketing Association, Tourism Victoria commits investments in festivals and events, creates award-winning destination marketing campaigns and conducts far-reaching international sales initiatives. These combined activities make for a vibrant and bustling destination.

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