(Greater Victoria) Household expenses, particularly housing and food costs, are driving up the cost of raising a family, says the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, in its 2021 Living Wage report, released today. Greater Victoria is a close second for the highest living wage in the province ( following Vancouver).
On June 7th, 2021, the Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) of Greater Victoria organized A Doughnut Shaped Recovery for Greater Victoria, a speaker series event held in collaboration with Conversations for a One Planet Region, One Planet Saanich and the South Island Prosperity Partnership. The event focused on the ways Doughnut Economics can be explored and implemented by municipalities, local businesses, and communities within the Greater Victoria Region. Amsterdam has pioneered it, other European and North American cities are following their lead, and here in Canada, the City of Nanaimo recently agreed to adopt it. Greater Victoria came together to talk about what Doughnut Economics could mean for our shared futures. Doughnut economics is a theory coined by economist Kate Raworth, it can be understood as an outline of how humans can prosper in the 21st century. “The Doughnut consists of two concentric rings: a social foundation, to ensure that no one is left falling short on life’s essentials, and an ecological ceiling, to ensure that humanity does not collectively overshoot the planetary boundaries that protect Earth's life-supporting systems”. It is between these two rings where humanity can thrive in a space that is both “ecologically safe and socially just.”
The Greater Victoria Region, with a population of about 350,000 people, is the capital of British Columbia and is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It consists of 13 municipalities ranging in size from about 12,000 to 120,000. This event explored how Greater Victoria can build a vibrant region that is within our social and environmental limits and how a recovery that is fair, inclusive and ecologically sustainable can be promoted. It centered around questions such as how economic growth can be propelled while remaining within social and environmental boundaries and looked at what we as a region value in shaping our recovery. The event consisted of a plenary session with three speakers, Andrew Fanning of Oxford’s Doughnut Economics Action Lab, the Head of Innovation for C40 cities in Copenhagen, Julia Lipton, and city councilor from Nanaimo who is currently implementing the Doughnut model, Ben Geselbracht. The Plenary was followed by a question-and-answer period and a breakout session with three groups—municipal, community and business.
Andrew leads Doughnut Economic Action Lab's work on data analysis, research, and iteratively improving our methodologies, especially for downscaling the Doughnut to places. His research has been published in leading scientific journals, and he shares ideas and findings in many different settings.
Click here for: Andrew Fanning's Presentation
Andrew Fanning began his presentation by asking questions within the local context of Greater Victoria. He posed questions such as, how can everyone in the Victoria region thrive? And how can they do that within Victoria’s natural Habitat? How can Victoria respect the health of the whole planet? And how can they do that while also respecting the wellbeing of all people? The principles of the Doughnut model are all drawn from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Andrew proposed the idea that it is pertinent to leave no one in the hole of the doughnut lacking the essentials of life. That we must be thriving and in balance, maintaining the delicate balance of the planet’s nine planetary boundaries while meeting the needs for all.
Julia is the Head of Innovation at C40 cities overseeing the development of support programmes at the cutting edge of climate leadership in cities. Previous to C40 Julia worked for the City of Sydney developing strategy and programmes to address energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings. And before that the NSW Government and social and environmental NGO's in Australia focusing on corporate sustainability and ethics.
Click here for: Julia Lipton's Presentation
Julia Lipton touched on the idea that urban centers are currently home to 55% of the world's population with a projection that by 2050 they will be home to 70-80% of the world's population. These cities drive consumption beyond city boundaries. The Doughnut introduces the concept of redefining what economic prosperity means, we must redefine a ‘good life’ and create resilient, sustainable local economies where people can thrive. Julia discussed the ongoing Doughnut workshops that are starting a conversation about the much-needed transformation. The Doughnut is a framework that encompasses much of what already exists and relies on mitigation strategies to be implemented so we can have continuous local and global prosperity.
Ben Geselbracht is a Nanaimo city Councillor and Regional district Director. He is an advocate for environmental sustainability and an economy that works for everyone. Ben is passionate about the development of the circular economy and recently, the doughnut economy and is working to apply these principles both in civic governance and his tree service business.
Click here for: Ben Geselbracht's Presentation
Ben Geselbracht presented on how Vancouver Island’s own Nanaimo has begun implementing the Doughnut into municipal policy. He discussed a framework that is being developed that prioritizes the community as an important resource for input. A critical aspect of the framework being developed in Nanaimo is the use of targets and indicators. These targets and indicators must be allowed and used across all city and community plans for the policies to work with each other instead of against each other.
Breakout Sessions and Next Steps
The event led to discussion and questions surrounding how the Doughnut could be implemented within Victoria and offered possible concerns and critiques of how this would play out. Many thought-provoking questions were proposed such as how we can ensure that the Doughnut image does not give support to the idea of a choice between economy and environment? Or, how the Doughnut model can be promoted with consideration to ongoing population growth in urban centers.
In the community breakout session of the event, led by Trevor Hancock, Kate Raworth debunking the concept of homo economicus was discussed, adding how community and interdependence must be prioritized above self-interest and independence. In the local context of Victoria, community must come together and help each other. When a community is involved in the conversation, they will support what they have built and feel strongly towards the success of implementation. At the city level, the community should be engaged while the community interacts and engages with each other.
The municipal breakout session, led by Cora Hallsworth, focused heavily on the importance of thinking and acting locally through using the Doughnut model to interact with and rely on local businesses. The lack of cohesion among municipalities on Vancouver Island was agreed upon by breakout participants, concluding that there must be some form of connectedness across the Island and its sustainability. We must consider the scale of the island and promote actions that connect the local and regional aspects as well as Vancouver Island as a whole.
The business breakout session, led by Dallas Gislason, looked at how Victoria can make a strategic choice around what is going to be done to reduce impact and create benefit for people. It is important to consciously shift and localize supply chains that function around planetary boundaries through connecting with businesses that support people living more sustainable lifestyles. There must be more circular practices that challenge the societal habit of always wanting to sell new things. These changes may not be asked of businesses to take on independently but should be based on a larger system change overall. Through looking at the larger picture, businesses will see the incentive of adapting to a more circular practice.
So, how can Greater Victoria take its next steps towards a Doughnut shaped recovery? This can be done by beginning the process of creating Greater Victoria’s city portrait, seeing where our metrics land within the Doughnut model and through using broader regional relationships to develop this portrait, promote action, and provide an understanding of how climate equity and social justice can fit together.
To watch the webinar, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM4Nizhag3I
- BLOG: Explaining Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth
- VIDEO: Downscaling The Doughnut to the City (11:21), Kate Raworth with the Doughnut Economics Action Lab
- PDF GUIDE: Creating City Portraits (44pg), detailing the social, ecological, local and global lenses of the City Portrait
- WEBSITE: Happier People Happier Planet Happier People Healthier Planet: How putting wellbeing first would help sustain life on Earth, by Teresa Belton.
- WEBSITE: Centre for Ecocities we have these consumption based emissions impacts available for Greater Victoria, Saanich and Victoria through work we do at the BCIT Centre for Ecocities (we’ve now done these inventories for 30+ BC communities). We find emissions for a community here double when you look at consumption-based emissions vs a standard inboundary inventory.
- PDF: Saanich One Planet Sustainability PlanAs part of One Planet Saanich we did a sustainability scan using the lens of the 10 one planet living principles. There is significant overlap in the approaches to the city snapshot. Results are here:
Join us to learn about European and American non-market housing models and envision a future of affordable housing across British Columbia.
This event is hosted by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria in collaboration with Island Social Planners Connect. If you have the means, your donation helps support this event, which is running without funding.
It’s hard to admit that without changing the status quo, a healthy housing market may never come back to communities on Vancouver Island. As evidence of market failure becomes more and more apparent, do we need to look to a broader set of solutions?
This workshop will explore options for non-market housing solutions locally by first investigating examples from elsewhere—including Vienna, where over 60 per cent of residents live in city-built, sponsored or managed housing—and then imagining what role such models could play here at home to solve our affordability crisis.
8:00-9:00: International Speaker Panel and Q&A
9:00-10:00: Local Panelist Discussion
10:00-10:30: Optional breakout room discussions, led by Island Social Planners Connect
Glyn Robbins, London
Shane Phillips, Los Angeles
Gabu Heindl, Vienna
Penny Gurstein, UBC
Steven Pomeroy, Carleton
Marc Lee, CCPA
This event will be hosted virtually from our work spaces on the traditional territories of the Lkwungen (Songhees) peoples, who have a historical and ongoing relationship to this land.
British Columbia’s annual minimum wage increase went into effect last week with a 60 cent increase to $15.20/hour. Despite this increase, the minimum wage still falls almost $5 short of Victoria’s living wage for families. The 2019 living wage for the City of Victoria is $19.39/hour for families and even higher for individuals meaning the new minimum wage still leaves a large number of families and individuals living below the poverty line.
Increasing the minimum wage always creates tension at both ends of the spectrum– with people worrying about the clear fact that the minimum wage is still not sufficient while others worry about the price paid by local small businesses. There are win-win solutions.
The minimum wage places the burden of cost of living challenges on either individuals who are living in poverty or businesses. The government can spread that burden across taxpayers more fairly by addressing drivers of the costs of living. The recent changes to child care costs is a great example of this – the living wage went down for families when the government invested in affordable childcare.
A major driver of the high cost of living and high poverty rates within Greater Victoria, is housing. According to the 2016 census, 16,720 people within the City of Victoria are spending more than 30% of their income on housing and one in five are spending more than 50%. There is a dire need for an increase in affordable housing and this could significantly help close the gap between the minimum wage and living wage. The development of direct purpose built public or non-profit owned and operated housing is crucial.
In the shorter term, there are concerns by businesses hard hit by the pandemic now facing increases in wages. However, minimum wage workers are disproportionately concentrated in larger corporations that weathered the pandemic well and are profitable. These larger profitable businesses, such as multinational firms should, and are able to, pay the higher minimum wage. It is in the interests of our local economy to capture the profits being made locally by large multinationals through higher minimum wages that will be spent locally on goods and services.
Concern regarding the wage increase and its effect on small businesses is increasingly relevant in the current economic climate of COVID-19. For those small independent local businesses, wage subsidies and other supports will be crucial throughout the COVID-19 recovery period. Further, strengthening our social programs such as employment insurance would help to protect any workers negatively impacted.
One thing to remember is that with increased wages comes a stimulated economy- as people have more to spend, there is more spent in local businesses. This is particularly the case for lower income workers who have the highest likelihood of spending their money locally on goods and services instead of a condo in Hawaii. This is why studies are showing that minimum wage increases can have an overall positive impact on the local economy. These same studies are showing that there is room to move to higher minimums, even potentially setting a floor at 80% of average salaries.
The path to a living wage is twofold – Firstly, it requires public solutions to address the high cost of living, particularly housing and secondly, it requires making the minimum wage a living wage. Not only is this doable, but frankly, we can’t afford not to.
- Living Wage for Families Campaign. (2019). 2019 Living Wages Released: BC’s Childcare Investments Have Major Impacts. http://www.livingwageforfamilies.ca/2019_living_wages
- Statistics Canada. (2016). Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-400-X2016229.
- National Employment Law Project, Data Brief July 2012. https://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/NELP-Big-Business-Corporate-Profits-Minimum-Wage.pdf
Check out the CSPCs most recent living wage report: https://communitycouncil.ca/
Can doughnut economics help us build a just recovery that is within our ecological limits?
Are you a municipal leader or planner? A local business owner? A community leader? An interested community member? Are you working to merge social and environmental values in your work?
Join us to hear from Andrew Fanning of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab in Oxford, Julia Lipton, Head of Innovation for C40 Cities in Copenhagen, Councillor Ben Geselbracht from Nanaimo and other municipal and community leaders in regions that are implementing a Doughnut Economics approach.
Kate Raworth’s idea of Doughnut Economics, is arousing a great deal of interest. The idea is simple. The economy has to be large enough to provide a decent standard of living for everyone (food, shelter, sanitation, education etc.), but small enough to stay within our ’ecological ceiling.’
Amsterdam has pioneered it, other European and North American cities are following their lead and here in Canada, the City of Nanaimo recently agreed to adopt it. Greater Victoria is coming together to talk about it.
More information on Doughnut Economics:
– See this series of 7 very short videos from 2017, starting here
– or this longer TED Talk version
– or this webpage – About Doughnut Economics
– Information on Businesses and Doughnut Economics
– The Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL)
– DEAL is turning the ideas of Doughnut Economics into practice, and we are engaging in
some pioneering initiatives and pilot projects with cities, communities, educators,
businesses and governments to do so. Here’s an overview of our work to date.
– Three Times Colonist columns on this issue by Trevor Hancock 31 January 2021 – True prosperity is doughnut-shaped
-7 March 2021 – Circles and Doughnuts – The local economy we need (Published as ‘Circular
economy doesn’t go far enough’)
– 14 March 2021 – A Doughnut economy for Victoria (Published as ‘Doughnut economy means
not spending $100M on interchange’)