November 28, 2023


GREATER VICTORIA – As we head into December and the start of winter, the morning commute is definitely getting chillier. The rituals of scraping your windshield before driving and packing a warm sweater to wear until the office warms up symbolize the changing season. If you grew up in a colder clime — I was raised in Southern Ontario — there’s something exciting about the sharpness of the cold air that takes me back to being a kid. It’s a sign the holidays are near, and snow is on its way. And it means a new hockey season is underway and a fresh chance for your team to bring home a championship.

Hockey is known as Canada’s game (sorry lacrosse). Even Canadians who aren’t diehard fans get caught in the hype that builds with every new season. The game has seeped into our culture and our boardrooms. How often do hear hockey-isms away from the rink?

“Bring your “A” game.”

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

“Know where the puck is going, not where’s it’s been.”

In Greater Victoria, hockey is a huge part of our culture — even though outdoor skating and winter snowscapes are fleeting compared to the rest of Canada. In January, our region will celebrate all things hockey as Victoria hosts Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada, happening Jan. 17-20 at Ship Point. The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is one of many organizations lending their support.

This is our moment, our power play where we’ll score on a national level. The opportunity to show off our spectacular region during a national broadcast is invaluable, as is the chance for Canadians to hear from First Nations — including the Songhees Nation who will bring the Stanley Cup into the Inner Harbour in a canoe! The power that sports has to bring people together is invaluable. Ask anyone who has played, there are so many fascinating and important stories that people will have a chance to share as they gather to watch an alumni game or strap on skates to take a glide across the ice themselves.

Events like this make a difference to our downtown businesses. Hockey is a great unifier (unless of course you’re supporting the other team) and a wonderful excuse to encourage thousands of people to gather together in Downtown Victoria for a common love. It is a fabulous place for a fun time, even in the middle of January. The extra foot-traffic will benefit retailers and restaurants and help animate the area for visitors and locals. The boost can’t come too soon, either. After many months of economic uncertainty, some positive activity will be welcomed by businesses still waiting for better times ahead. And economic forecasts look good, with many experts calling for the economy to spring back to life by the end of winter.

We will get there, one step at a time. Let’s stay optimistic and make sure to check in on everyone in our lives who might need a little encouragement right now. The start of winter is known to be difficult for many people. I’m happy that the coming festival of hockey will also help shine a light on the importance of mental health. The event’s local charitable beneficiary is the Courtnall Society for Mental Health, which works to promote a better understanding of mental health. The society has raised more than $3 million since 2003 to fund the opening of the Archie Courtnall Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital and support the Patient Care Centre. The society’s goal now is to help other organizations through grants that help provide mental health programming.

We’re looking forward to a hat trick of great events in January and February that unify our region, showcase our downtown, and add a little something to look forward to as we embrace changing seasons and better days ahead.

Bruce Williams is CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce  


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