A Doughnut Shaped Recovery for Greater Victoria – Event Summary


Event Summary 


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.  

Speaker Panel 

Andrew Fanning 

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. 

Twitter: @AndrewLFanning 

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 Lipton 

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 

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


  • 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:  


Fixing housing affordability: Non-market solutions

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

International Speakers
Glyn Robbins, London
Shane Phillips, Los Angeles
Gabu Heindl, Vienna

Local Panelists
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.

Register Now

🚨NEWS: CSPC is launching a Greater Victoria Housing Relief Fund & Rent Bank Program

The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria and BC Rent Bank are launching a Rent Bank which will provide short term financial help for low-to-moderate income households at risk of losing their housing due to a temporary financial crisis. In conjunction with this the Community Council is also launching the Greater Victoria Housing Relief Security Fund, a one-time housing grant program between February and the end of April to provide eligible applicants with support for rent, essential utilities, and basic needs.

Media Release

Media Coverage:

Chek News

CFAX 1070

Business Examiner

CTV News Vancouver Island

For more information on this program and to view eligibility requirements, please visit: https://communitycouncil.ca/rentbank/

Point-in-Time Homeless Count Report 2020

2020 Greater Victoria Point-in-Time Count: The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC) coordinated its third one-day Point-in-Time Count of homeless people in the region on March 12, 2020, a count and survey of homeless individuals in sheltered and unsheltered locations that provides a snapshot of where people slept on the night of March 11, 2020. The Count was sponsored by the CRD, as the administrator of the Reaching Home Program, and funded by the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.

Over 50 shelters, transitional facilities, and healthcare facilities participated, providing data on the number of people experiencing homelessness spending the night at their facilities. The following day, approximately 175 volunteers and homelessness facility employees completed over 850 surveys of people experiencing homelessness at various indoor and outdoor locations across the region.


Media Release

Technical Appendix


Point-in-Time Report Infographic

Letter to council regarding occupancy bylaw

February 21, 2020
Mayor and Council
District of Saanich
770 Vernon Ave,
Victoria BC,
V8X 2W7

Sent via email to council@saanich.ca

Dear Mayor and Council,

Re: Unrelated occupants and Zoning Bylaw, 2003, Amendment Bylaw, 2020, No. 9608.
We write in regard to the proposal to amend the unrelated occupants provisions of Zoning Bylaw, 2003.
The Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) is an independent, non-partisan, and organization that
represents thousands of citizens across the region. Many Saanich organizations and individuals are
members. We are an informed voice on social issues in BC’s capital region. By fostering social innovation
and integrated action on social, cultural, economic and environmental conditions the Council supports
the creation of sustainable communities. Two of our four priority work areas are housing affordability
and sustainability.

There is strong evidence that increasing housing density creates more affordable housing, and reduces
climate and other environmental impacts. We support the proposed change in the number of unrelated
occupants permitted in section 5.20 and the definition of “family” in the Zoning Bylaw, 2003, from four
to six. As noted in the staff report of 1/24/2020 entitled “Zoning Bylaw- Unrelated Occupants:”
“Small scale communal living arrangements have existed in neighbourhoods throughout Saanich
for many decades. Given the current availability and cost of rental housing in the Region, a
measured increase in the number of unrelated tenants allowed in a single family dwelling may
be warranted.”

We agree that strategies for additional density should be pursued, over and above the density levels
afforded by single family dwellings. There is clearly a housing gap in Saanich for low- and middle-income
individuals, seniors and students; we are in the middle of a regional housing crisis. The Community
Social Planning Council (CSPC) has released a report on the challenges of the tight rental market for
renters and how it is forcing individuals into unsafe, substandard or unaffordable situations that are
impacting on health (https://www.communitycouncil.ca/Renter%20Survey%202018). Beyond that, the
CSPC conducts the Point in Time count for the region and has been concerned about students that are

We understand the concerns that some residents hold in relation to parking, noise and property upkeep,
as well as concerns about landlords carrying out unpermitted construction to add profitable sleeping
2 quarters to their properties. We respectfully suggest that the appropriate way to address those issues is
directly, by enforcing rules related to those matters.

We understand that resources are required in order to enforce those rules, and the suggestion that
placing a limit on the number of occupants in a home can indirectly address some of the concerns.
However, as acknowledged in the staff report of 1/24/2020, increasing the number of allowable
unrelated persons would reduce the number of instances of non-compliance with occupancy rules,
thereby offsetting resource demands. Moreover, as noted in the report, there is no statistical data that
enforcement of occupancy rules serves to successfully address nuisance or parking concerns.

Further, the bylaw is unfairly discriminating as it does not place any limits on occupancy for related
persons meaning that those issues of parking, noise, etc. This rule discriminates on the basis of marital
and family status. While a legal review of the bylaw is beyond the scope of this submission, we note that
the BC Human Rights Code (s.8) prohibits discrimination on the basis of marital status and family status,
and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (s.15) prohibits discrimination on both enumarated
and analogous grounds, one of which is marital status. Whether or not the bylaw itself is unlawful, the
fact that it is discriminatory should give Council cause for significant concern.
Saanich previously had a limit of six unrelated occupants and this motion merely returns the limit to the
previous level.

In light of all of the above, we recommend that Council:
● Adopt the amendment to return the number of unrelated occupants permitted to six;
● Instruct staff to enforce relevant rules related to nuisance, parking, etc., (subject to the existing
policy of prioritizing resourcing complaints related to health, safety, environment and
infrastructure over nuisance concerns between neighbours);
● Instruct staff to monitor the demands on resources over at least a two-year period following the
amendment, and report back to Council; and,
● If needed after the two year review, allocate additional budget to hire bylaw enforcement

We thank you again for the opportunity and for your consideration of this submission.

Yours truly,
Diana Gibson
Executive Director

Greater Victoria household expenses up, but living wage for families down.

2019 Living Wage for families: $19.39.

May 1, 2019

(Greater Victoria) Household expenses for raising a family in British Columbia increased again from 2018 to 2019. And if it hadn’t been for government policy – most notably BC’s new Affordable Child Care Benefit – the increase would have been close to ten thousand dollars, says the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, in its 2019 Living Wage report released today.

However, new government policy initiatives actually reduced the living wage for eligible families. The Affordable Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, and cuts to MSP premiums actually outweighed the increased cost of living, and reduced the wage needed to form a living wage. “This demonstrates that good government policy can be an effective tool for reducing poverty,” says Diana Gibson, CSPC Senior Researcher and co-author of the report, “and it shows the great opportunities for making change in other key areas – like housing – that are driving that cost of living.”

A $19.39 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Greater Victoria, down from $20.50 per hour in 2018. The Living Wage is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children, aged 4 and 7, must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food, and transportation), once government taxes, credits, deductions and benefits have been taken into account. The family Living Wage for our region is calculated annually by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC).

“A $19.39 hourly living wage may seem high to some, but it is based on a bare-bones budget for a family of four in our region,” said Diana Gibson. “It doesn’t include any savings for vacations, childrens’ education, retirement, caring for elderly parents, or home purchase.”

Housing and child care continue to be the two biggest costs in the living wage calculation. Over the last year, the median rent for a 3+ bedroom unit in Greater Victoria has gone up by $135 per month, more than an 8 per cent increase. In some areas of the region, this increase is much more pronounced. Child care costs are high, but are nearly covered by the federal and BC child-related benefits. …/2

“While the decline in living wage for families this year is welcome, the cost of living is on a long-term upward trend. And the cost of living in the Greater Victoria region is one of the highest in BC,” said Halena Seiferling, Campaign Organizer for the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Living wage reports for several locations in BC also were released today.

Over 140 employers across BC, employing more than 20,000 workers, have been certified as Living Wage Employers. These include the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Vancity, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, the City of Quesnel, the City of Port Coquitlam, and in Greater Victoria, certified Living Wage Employers include Central Saanich, the City of Victoria, Pacifica Housing, Urban Solar, and Community Plus, the Vancouver and District Labour Council, to name a few.

Working poverty is a Canada-wide issue. Over 50 communities across the country, including 18 in BC, have active living wage campaigns and are advocating to improve quality of life for low-wage workers.

For full report click here.

Background: Living Wages across BC

Living wage rates in many across the province are similarly lower this year: Columbia Valley ($15.92), Comox Valley ($15.28), Cranbrook ($14.38), Fraser Valley ($15.54), Greater Trail ($18.83), Greater Vancouver ($19.50), Kamloops ($14.38), Nelson ($18.46), North Central Region ($14.03), Parksville-Qualicum ($15.81) and Revelstoke ($18.90).

Community Living Wage Year Calculated
Metro Vancouver $19.50 2019
Greater Victoria $19.39 2019
Revelstoke $18.90 2019
Greater Trail $18.83 2019
Nelson $18.46 2019
Columbia Valley $15.92 2019
Parksville-Qualicum $15.81 2019
Fraser Valley $15.54 2019
Comox Valley $15.28 2019
Cranbrook $14.38 2019
Kamloops $14.38 2019
North Central Region $14.03 2019

Can’t Stay and Can’t Go – Rental Housing Instability Report

Research Report

VICTORIA – Survey reveals that Victoria’s tight housing market is meaning renovictions, demovictions, discrimination, living in poor quality housing, and increased vulnerability for renters.

A new study by the Community Social Planning Council of Victoria and the Victoria Tenants Action Group, Can’t Stay and Can’t Go: A participatory action research project on rental housing instability in Greater Victoria, brings forward renter voices about lived experiences in today’s housing crisis. Nearly 500 renters participated in the online survey and in-person roundtables.

The survey reveals critical impacts of lack of affordability and lack of availability on renters, from high levels of discrimination to feeling trapped in poor conditions. 92% of participants reported that high rents were a barrier to finding housing, while 55% cited increasing cost as a threat to remaining in their current home.

Press Release

View Brief

Download the report

Renters speak up about housing insecurity in the Capital region

VICTORIA – Survey reveals that Victoria’s tight housing market is meaning renovictions, demovictions, discrimination, living in poor quality housing, and increased vulnerability for renters.

A new study by the Community Social Planning Council of Victoria and the Victoria Tenants Action Group, Can’t Stay and Can’t Go: A participatory action research project on rental housing instability in Greater Victoria, brings forward renter voices about lived experiences in today’s housing crisis. Nearly 500 renters participated in the online survey and in-person roundtables.

The survey reveals critical impacts of lack of affordability and lack of availability on renters, from high levels of discrimination to feeling trapped in poor conditions. Most (92%) of participants reported that high rents were a barrier to finding housing, while 55% cited increasing cost as a threat to remaining in their current home.

Renters consider Greater Victoria to be their home and want to continue living here, but fear that affordability issues will push them out of the region: 77% reported they would stay if they had the choice but 76% said it is somewhat to very likely that housing pressure will force them to leave.

“We called this report Can’t Stay and Can’t Go because of that tension we heard from renters,” states Gavin Torvik of the Victoria Tenant Action Group (VTAG), “the looming risk of being forced out of your home by renoviction or rent increase combined with the real fear of having nowhere to go.

The tight market affects not only renters’ future prospects but the power imbalance with their current landlords: 47% did not ask for repairs out of fear it would negatively impact their tenancy. One participant said that when they told their landlord they needed pest control called, the landlord called an appraiser.

“People feel that even if they have housing, their number will soon be up,” says Cameron Welch of VTAG, “And when it is, being forced out into this housing crisis is like being thrown to the wolves. So they’re stuck, they’re always stressed out, and they’re vulnerable to being exploited.”

Renters lack confidence that the Residential Tenancy Branch will protect them. Although nearly half of participants felt they had been in a living situation in which their rights were violated, only one eighth had chosen to go through dispute resolution. Renters cited impact on life, unpredictability of outcome, uncertainty about the law, and time as reasons for their reluctance.

“The CSPC did this study because the real experiences of renters are lost in policy dialogues, meaning well-intended policies are often misaligned,” says Diana Gibson, Senior Researcher with the Community Social Planning Council. “Anyone engaged in housing policy and planning will want to look at this data.”

The report includes policy priorities indicated by renters and a call for more action by the municipal and provincial governments.

This report was made possible by a grant from the Victoria Foundation.

Click here for full report.