Walking the Talk: Building Equity into Climate Programs

As Canadian cities roll out climate action plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with Canada’s objective of reaching net zero carbon by 2050, it is crucial that equity is embedded in each step in developing these plans. Embedding equity considerations in climate action plans can help disadvantaged communities that disproportionately bear the adverse effects of climate change to have the opportunities to participate in and benefit from climate action initiatives. Climate equity is a win-win for the wellbeing of the planet and for all communities, including low income, Indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ2S+, visible minorities and people with disabilities. Read the full report below.

5 Things You Can Do to Celebrate Earth Day in Greater Victoria

April 22nd marks Earth Day – an annual reminder for everyday citizens to be cognizant of how their actions impact the environment.  

Though this holiday is recognized across the world, the celebration of Earth Day is especially important for us in Greater Victoria. According to a climate change risk assessment focusing on the City of Victoria, we are on track to continue to experience extreme weather events. For example, heat waves have become an all to often recurrence that pose a threat to vulnerable members of our community. With rising sea levels, flooding is another danger for our region that could have a catastrophic impact on our infrastructure, local businesses, and the lives of so many. As the weather continues to be unpredictable and intense, we will all feel the adverse affects brought on by climate change. That's why celebrating Earth Day is not just about being a good global citizen – it is about showing solidarity with fellow community members, acknowledging climate change, and commiting to the fight to stop it.

With this in mind, we'd like to highlight a few local Earth Day events that you could take part it in. Here are 5 activities that you can do to celebrate Earth Day this Saturday, April 22nd, in the Greater Victoria.

1. Earth Day Clothing Donation Drive – Max Furniture, 9am-TBD 

Address: 3460 Quadra St., Victoria, BC 

Cost: Free 

Max Furniture, a family-owned business in Victoria, is running a clothing donation drive at their storefront on Quadra Street with the goal of filling the Max Furniture truck full of clothes! Donations of clothing, textiles, and shoes will all be accepted, and the clothing drive will begin at 9am. This is a great event for those who have recently done some spring cleaning and are looking to give back to members of the community!

2. Earth Day Festival – Saanich City Hall, 11am-3pm 

Address: Saanich City Hall (770 Vernon Ave., Victoria, BC) 

Cost: Free 

The municipality of Saanich will be hosting an Earth Day festival at Saanich City Hall with live music, food trucks, and fun, eco-conscious activities for the kids! The Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association’s Climate Action group will also be in attendance to discuss local solutions to climate change. Arrival via transit, cycling, or on-foot is strongly advised, as there is limited parking and it is Earth Day, after all!

3. Meet the Bees – Earth Day Workshop Uptown, 2pm-3pm 

Address: Uptown Mall (3440 Saanich Rd., Victoria, BC) 

Cost: Free 

Uptown Mall is hosting an up-close-and-personal workshop on bees and urban beekeeping, specifically learning about the important part bees play in environmental preservation whilst interacting with a real beehive and engaging in team-building activities! Free General Admission tickets are available through Eventbrite, and you may even get a sweet surprise to take home with you after the workshop is over!

4. Earth Day Celebration Event – Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park, 11am-2pm 

Address: Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park (5267 Patricia Bay Hwy, Victoria, BC) 

Cost: Free 

Want to spend some time in the great outdoors this Earth Day? The CRD Regional Parks naturalists will be conducting guided nature walks beginning at the Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park Nature Centre (at Beaver Beach) starting in the early afternoon! These nature walks are suitable for all ages, and they will provide you with an opportunity to learn more about the flora and fauna which grace our local parks. Take in some fresh, island air!

5. Earth Day Silent Disco Beach Dance – Silent DJ Victoria, 11am-12:30pm 

Address: South end of Willows Beach, off Bowker Place (Esplanade, Oak Bay, BC) 

Cost: $20-30 sliding scale donation, but no one will be turned away due to financial barriers 

Do you want to spend Earth Day in a unique way? Look no further than Silent DJ Victoria’s Earth Day Beach Dance happening at Willows Beach in the early afternoon! Come prepared with a piece of ID as a security deposit in exchange for a headset, as this is an outdoor silent disco, and feel free to dress up in an earthly outfit! More information can be found on Eventbrite, and have fun moving and grooving by the ocean! 

We at the Community Social Planning Council hope that you have an informative, joyful, and unplugged Earth Day, as a climate-conscious community can lead to climate-oriented change. Have a happy Earth Day! 

Published: April 21, 2023

Author(s):

Jenna Inch, Researcher

Jenna (3)

Lessons From Helsinki: Homelessness & Housing First Approaches

This event focuses on lessons from Finland in utilizing the Housing First Model.

This model has been successfully implemented in other cities and countries globally. In Finland this model is credited with helping to virtually eliminate experiences of homelessness. While more hidden forms of homelessness remain, such as staying with friends informally, this model has been successful at providing housing with dignity to thousands of Finnish residents.

Joining us at this event is Saija Turunen, who will share their experience with this model’s application in Finland. Also, Housing First Expert, Dr. Deborah K. Padgett, will be sharing her expertise related to this model. Additionally, this event will feature a community response, where local experts, including Nicole Chaland, will speak to this model’s applicability to our region. See below for a full list of panelists at the event.

Panelists include:

  • Saija Turunen - Head of Research, Y-Foundation, Finland
  • Deborah K. Padgett - Professor; McSilver Faculty Fellow; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Anthropology and College of Global Public Health, NYU
  • Nicole Chaland - Co-Lead: The Housing Justice Project, University of Victoria

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The CSPC acknowledges the Songhees, Esquimalt, Tsartlip/W̱JOȽEȽP, Tseycum/WSIḴEM, Tsawout/SȾÁUTW, Pauquachin/BOḰEĆEN, T’Sou-ke, Scia’new and Pacheedaht Nations who have a historical and ongoing relationship to the land where our offices and work are based.

We also respect the wide diversity of nations and languages across the province. British Columbia is home to over 200 First Nations communities and approximately 50% of the First Peoples’ languages of Canada. For more information visit: https://maps.fpcc.ca/

Family By Design: Designing Cities for Families

How can we design our region to be suitable for children and families?

Considering housing affordability concerns, residents can experience challenges when looking for housing suitable for families. This event will focus on regional needs for family housing and speak to Canadian municipalities that have implemented innovative tools and policies for family friendly cities.

Other topics such as affordable housing, access to quality education, safe and accessible public spaces, sustainable transportation options, and community support systems will be discussed.

The goal of this event is to promote the design and development of cities that are not only functional but also conducive to family life, fostering a sense of community, belonging, and well-being for all residents.

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The CSPC acknowledges the Songhees, Esquimalt, Tsartlip/W̱JOȽEȽP, Tseycum/WSIḴEM, Tsawout/SȾÁUTW, Pauquachin/BOḰEĆEN, T’Sou-ke, Scia’new and Pacheedaht Nations who have a historical and ongoing relationship to the land where our offices and work are based.

We also respect the wide diversity of nations and languages across the province. British Columbia is home to over 200 First Nations communities and approximately 50% of the First Peoples’ languages of Canada. For more information visit: https://maps.fpcc.ca/

Revitalizing Downtown Spaces in a Hybrid Work Environment

How do we respond to changing needs in downtown cores, when considering implications for community health and well-being, economic prosperity, inclusivity and sustainability?

As many jobs have implemented working-from-home opportunities, the use of downtown cores has changed as well. Discussions may cover topics such as creating more green spaces, pedestrianizing streets, supporting local businesses, investing in public transportation, and promoting social and cultural activities to enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors. Overall, this event seeks to promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing among stakeholders in order to build more resilient and thriving cities.

Panelists include:

  • John J. Kiru - Executive Director at Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas
  • Dr. Penny Gurstien - UBC Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning
  • Shane Devereaux - Owner, Habit Coffee
  • Karen Chapple - Director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto

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The CSPC acknowledges the Songhees, Esquimalt, Tsartlip/W̱JOȽEȽP, Tseycum/WSIḴEM, Tsawout/SȾÁUTW, Pauquachin/BOḰEĆEN, T’Sou-ke, Scia’new and Pacheedaht Nations who have a historical and ongoing relationship to the land where our offices and work are based.

We also respect the wide diversity of nations and languages across the province. British Columbia is home to over 200 First Nations communities and approximately 50% of the First Peoples’ languages of Canada. For more information visit: https://maps.fpcc.ca/

Executive Director Update

The critical role of social planning in creating sustainable and vibrant communities cannot be overstated. As such, I am pleased to share important updates from the Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) regarding our efforts towards achieving more just and equitable communities in Greater Victoria. Our recent activities include addressing issues related to homelessness, gender equity, and housing affordability across the region. 

We recently conducted a bi-annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count and Survey in partnership with the Capital Regional District (CRD) and the Alliance to End Homelessness in the Capital Region. We'd like to say a special thank you to the participants who came forward to share their stories and for their patience with the surveyors. We are thrilled to have had over 200 volunteers working in the HQ and on route throughout the region. Thank you to all of those who sponsored and funded this years count and survey, your dedication to the community is admirable! The survey findings in July will inform plans for both short and long-term solutions to homelessness. 

On International Women's Day, we reflected on the ongoing gender pay gap in the CRD, which is not only important for gender equity (SDG 5), but also for promoting economic growth and reducing inequality (SDG 8). To raise awareness and encourage action, CSPC shared a fact sheet on the gender pay gap in the CRD that highlights key strategies and policies that can help achieve gender equity in the workplace. 

On March 6, 2023, the CSPC and City of Colwood hosted Councillor Learning Session: Municipal Levers for Housing Affordability with Brent Toderian as a keynote speaker to emphasize the importance of building complete neighborhoods that support affordability. The event is part of the Regional Housing Affordability Project which supported the creation of a community of practice to share local learning and best practices, compiling local policies and practices, and engaging with municipal, business, and community partners. In phase two, the City of Colwood plans to expand the project's toolkit, update housing needs reports, and continue offering regional workshops. The Regional Housing Affordability Project aims to create more just and equitable communities, contributing to larger efforts to create a better city for everyone across municipal boundaries. 

Although these are positive steps, there is still much to do. Looking ahead, we have several upcoming events that focus on important issues related to social planning and equity.  On April 18, we are hosting a webinar titled "Revitalizing Downtown Spaces in a Hybrid Work Environment." This event will bring together experts, community members, and decision-makers to discuss the future of downtown spaces in light of changing work patterns.  

On April 25, we are hosting a workshop titled "Family By Design: Designing Cities for Families". The workshop will focus on strategies for building better family environments throughout the region. 

Finally, on May 2, we are hosting a lunch and learn titled "Homelessness, Housing, and Human Rights: A look at Housing First Approach”. We will highlight data from cities such as Helsinki where they have utilized a housing first approach to effectively reduce homelessness and build thriving communities for their residents. 

It is important to align our efforts towards creating more just and equitable communities with the global goals for sustainable development. Proper social planning is crucial in achieving our community goals and ensuring a better future for everyone. As we work towards these goals locally, we must remember that they are interconnected with larger provincial, federal, and global efforts to create a better world for all. Let's continue to promote social inclusion, advocate for fair pay practices, and support affordable housing to create sustainable and vibrant communities that contribute to a larger global effort. Stay updated on our efforts and upcoming events by following the CSPC's social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Join us in spreading awareness about the importance of these issues by sharing this with your friends and family.

Published: March 10, 2023

Author(s):

Diana Gibson, Executive Director

Diana

Achieving Gender Equity and Closing the Gender Pay Gap in the CRD

Women in the Capital Regional District (CRD) continue to earn less than men. The gap is even larger for visible minority women and women with diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Women annually earn between 30 and 85 cents for each dollar a white man earns. The gender pay gap is a widely recognized indicator of gender inequities that exists across industries and professional levels. Even with recent progress, there is still much work to be done to eliminate gender-based pay inequality. 

At the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC), we believe that achieving gender equity is essential for building a fair and just society. As we celebrate International Women's Day in 2023, with a theme of "Digital: Innovation and technology for gender equality," we recognize the crucial role that technological tools can play in promoting gender equality and closing the gender pay gap in the CRD. 

The United Nations has identified digital innovation and technology as key drivers of gender equality and economic empowerment for women. With the increasing use of digital platforms and tools, organizations have the opportunity to increase transparency and accountability in pay practices and ensure that all employees receive fair compensation for their work. 

To achieve gender equality and eliminate the gender pay gap in the CRD, we must encourage employers to conduct pay audits and increase transparency in pay practices. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business provides exercises to conduct an internal audit, which can be adapted to other jurisdictions. Conducting pay audits can help identify and address pay disparities within organizations. 

Supporting flexible work requirements is another way to promote gender equality in the workforce. Women are often forced to choose between work, childcare, and other family commitments. A flexible schedule that eases in-office requirements can help working mothers balance work and family responsibilities. 

Publishing wage/salary information in job postings is also an effective way to eliminate the gender pay gap. Providing salaries up front keeps unintentional bias from creeping into the hiring process and provides transparency for applicants. Publishing a range also allows room to negotiate based on education and experience while ensuring candidates have equal starting places. 

Writing to your MLA and encouraging them to pass provincial legislation that outlines protections, processes, and remedies that require all BC employers to provide equal pay and to make the minimum wage a living wage can also help to close the gender pay gap. Universal childcare is also seen as a key way to eliminate the gender pay gap, as it can help women balance work and family commitments and increase their participation in the workforce. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a roadmap for achieving gender equality and closing the gender pay gap by 2030. SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, while SDG 8 calls for decent work and economic growth. By implementing policies and practices that align with these SDGs, we can create a society that values and promotes gender equity. 

In conclusion, on this International Women's Day, let us renew our commitment to achieving gender equity and closing the gender pay gap in the CRD. By leveraging digital innovation and technology, implementing policies that align with the SDGs, conducting pay audits, supporting flexible work requirements, publishing wage/salary information in job postings, and advocating for fair and transparent pay practices, we can work to close the gender pay gap. Join us in advocating for policies and practices that promote pay equity and gender equality in our community. 

Women’s Day 2023 – The Gender Wage Gap in the CRD is the most recent iteration in a series of data releases from the UWSVI and CSPC collaboration Happiness and Wellbeing Community Lab. The data provides additional information and statistics on the gender pay gap and highlights key strategies and policies that can help to achieve gender equity in the workplace. We invite you to share this resource with your colleagues, friends, and family to help raise awareness and encourage action on this important issue. Together, we can build a fair and just society where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.  

Published: March 8, 2023

Author(s):

Teena Santiago, Development Coordinator

Teena

Women’s Day 2023 – The Gender Wage Gap in the CRD

Women in the Capital Regional District continue to earn less than men. The gap is larger for visible minority women and women with diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Women annually earn between 30 and 85 cents for each dollar a white man earns.

For those who aren't familiar, the gender pay gap refers to the difference in average earnings of people based on gender. It is a widely recognized indicator of gender inequities, and it exists across industries and professional levels.

There is still much work to be done.

When compared to previous data, the median income ratio of all other races/ethnicities increased in relation to white men, with the exception of white women, whose ratio showed a slight decrease. 

How can we close the gender pay gap?

Conduct pay audits in your organization. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business provides exercises to conduct an internal audit. While it’s specific to the Pay Equity Act in Quebec, the questions can be adapted to other jurisdictions.

Support flexible work requirements. Women are often forced to choose between work, childcare, and other family commitments. A flexible schedule that eases in-office requirements can help.

Publish wage/salary information in job postings. Providing salaries up front keeps unintentional bias from creeping into the hiring process and provides transparency for applicants. Publishing a range also allows room to negotiate based on education and experience while ensuring candidates have equal starting places.

Write your MLA and encourage them to pass provincial legislation that outlines protections, processes, and remedies that require all BC employers to provide equal pay and to make the minimum wage a living wage (See the CSPC’s annual calculation for the living wage). Universal Childcare is also seen as a key way to eliminate the gender pay gap.

In order to see long-lasting change, both pay equity and proper representation of women in higher-paying jobs must be addressed.

The Facts

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Gender wage gaps are calculated from median employment incomes. 

Sources

Statistics Canada. Table 98-10-0439-01  Employment income statistics by visible minority, highest level of education, immigrant status and income year: Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations with parts 

Statistics Canada. Table 98-10-0427-01  Employment income statistics by Indigenous identity and highest level of education: Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations with parts 

The Gender Pay Gap in Canada

As part of the Happiness and Wellbeing Lab project, the United Way Southern Vancouver Island and Community Council release annual data on International Women's Day to bring attention to the gender pay gap and empower individuals to take action.

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Struggling to Make Ends Meet: What It Means for Families of the CRD

This year's Family Day Factsheet highlights inflation pressures, cost of living, and housing as top issues.

Family Day is a day that allows us to be together, celebrate one another and embrace all that is good about those who enrich our lives. But, did you know that 1 in 15 families living in the Greater Victoria Region are living in low-income?  

As part of the Happiness and Wellbeing Lab project, the United Way Southern Vancouver Island and Community Social Planning Council release an annual family day fact sheet. The fact sheet shows that even though we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. As we look back on this year's Family Day, let's make sure that no family gets left behind.

This year’s factsheet drives home the fact that families are struggling with inflation and the high cost of living. This is causing a reliance on free food programs and increased challenges as pandemic-era funding ends and daily necessities become more expensive. In fact, between September and December 2022, demand for the food bank increased by 20%. Housing prices are squeezing families as well, with median house prices ranging from just over $850,000 in Sooke to over $1.7 million in Oak Bay. While house prices are deeply unaffordable, so is renting. Over 40% of renters in the region are in “core housing need”, a definition given to households that are spending over 30% of their income on housing.

We've seen key shifts in data in this year's fact sheet which are most likely attributable to pandemic supports that we're offered to families during COVID. These helped to lift families out of poverty but are being phased out as we enter a post-pandemic environment. With these programs coming to an end, we are seeing poverty rates jump for families, this is highlighted in the increased demand for food banks and rent bank services.

With this data available and accessible for all, we have to ask the question, what can be done to support families during this unprecedented time?

One way the government could support families is by implementing a living wage. While BC’s $15.65/hr minimum wage is the second highest in the country, it is still a far cry from the living wage of $24.29, which was recently calculated by the Happiness and Wellbeing Lab. The living wage saw a record-breaking 20% increase in 2022, which shows how much core necessities are costing families. The gap between income and expenses can be closed in one of two ways, either by reducing the cost of living or increasing wages.

The cost of living was lowered in the past through investments in child care. This helped to drop the living wage in 2019, showing that government action on the cost of living can help reduce poverty. While child care is still a substantial cost for families, more needs to be done on housing and food affordability to ensure that no family gets left behind.

No Family Left Behind is the most recent iteration in a series of fact sheets using data from the UWSVI and CSPC collaboration Happiness and Wellbeing Community Lab. The fact sheet can be downloaded here.

Published: February 21, 2023

Author(s):

Colton Whittaker, Communications Coordinator

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Family Day Factsheet: No Family Left Behind 2023

As part of the Happiness and Wellbeing Lab project, the United Way South Vancouver Island and Community Council release an annual family day fact sheet. The fact sheet brings awareness that even though we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. As we celebrate this BC Family Day, let's make sure that No Family Gets Left Behind. 

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