Uber Approved for Victoria: Mobility for who, and at what cost? 

With Uber being given the go-ahead to operate within the region, many are rejoicing at the thought of being able to have an alternative to taxis in the city. Despite the fanfare, many equity seeking groups and individuals have come out in opposition against the ride-hailing giant’s emergence on the South Island. 

Our current public transportation network is plagued by relative infrequency, inconsistency, and lack of overall reach that leaves many residents and visitors alike frustrated outside of a few core routes. Even then, many routes have a critical lack of early morning or late-night services necessary to support a mobile workforce and region. In light of our current transit woes, Uber might seem like a low-hanging fruit ready to be picked. With the push of a button, you can potentially have rides on demand from doorstep to doorstep- convenience at its finest. Despite this, Uber could undermine both climate and social equity work that so many municipalities in the region have been working towards. 

New collaborative research from Wayne State, Mcgill, and the University of Maryland have found that Uber shifts individuals towards private vehicles and away from public transit systems. This pattern can lead to a reduction in services that are critical to providing many working-class residents with mobility.  

When services like Uber cannibalize ridership from public transportation many are left behind who do not have the means to access the new service. Uber pricing out many lower income riders will be forced to deal with the aftermath as the traditional transit services they rely upon lose market share. 

Furthermore, A report from the California Air Resources Board found that nearly 39 percent of vehicle miles traveled by ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft could be referred to as “deadhead miles”; the number of miles you drive with an empty vehicle while either returning to a central point or by driving to a new destination to pick up a passenger. Because of this effect, personal rides using these services can result in trips that on average produce around 47 percent more emissions than they would have if done completely by private vehicle.  

The provincial climate plan calls for reducing vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) 25% by 2030. If the region is looking towards reducing VKTs and bolstering active  transportation and public transit, Uber is the wrong direction to go. 

In a city as compact as Victoria, and in a region this tightly connected, the effects of Uber adoption have an even greater knock-on to transportation planning, and stand to erase the cultural shift that seems to be percolating towards favouring active and public transportation. Researchers have found that the denser a city is, the more likely it is that Uber will cause a disruption to the ratio of those who previously chose to walk, ride, or take public transit. All of which lead to more vehicles on the road, more dependence on personal vehicles, higher emissions, and ultimately- an undoing of the climate action work being done to promote alternative modes of transportation. Victoria currently has the highest percentage of those who choose to roll to work in the country, with 5.3 percent of commuting trips being done by bike. Victoria is second only to Ottawa-Gatineau in terms of those who walk to work, with 29.5 percent of downtown commuters choosing to walk to work downtown.  

Lastly, Uber occupies a space in the unregulated gig economy; allowing them to operate without the same pay rates, benefits, and protections that would be afforded to traditional taxi services. A failure on the province and municipalities in regulating these companies could potentially result in more employers searching for loopholes in employment law to cut corners and lower wages. Ride-hailing companies and others operating within the gig economy have the luxury of a workforce at the ready yet provide no rights or benefits to any of the workers that they employ.  

The province themselves have highlighted the need to not create a second class of workers, yet when workers within the gig economy are sick, injured or otherwise unable to work, they cannot rely on any form of compensation to make it to the next paycheque.  

“Creating a new class of workers with fewer rights/protections than employees, as this could entrench inequality by creating a second-class of predominantly racialized app-based workers that enjoy fewer rights and protections than employees”.  

Many gig economy workers are racialized, immigrants, and often working through apps like Uber, Door Dash, and Lyft due to a lack of other employment opportunities. These are individuals who many of which are already in precarious living and employment conditions. The prevalence of the gig economy in our daily lives sends a resounding message that we need to invest more into supports for employment within the service sector. Not only should advocacy be moving towards better pay, but also towards the creation of less precarious working conditions, more upward social mobility and ensuring that we are bolstering a sustainable workforce. 

The arrival of Uber in the region has generated excitement among those seeking an alternative to traditional taxis. However, the case from those opposed highlights the potential negative impacts on both climate and social equity efforts. It undermines public transportation, increases emissions within the city, and is generally counterproductive to reaching our sustainability goals. Furthermore, Uber's presence in the unregulated gig economy threatens worker rights and perpetuates inequality. Mobility for who, and at what cost?  

Additional reading:  

https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=uclrev_online 

This is the first blog in a series on transportation equity in the region.

Published: May 18, 2023

Author(s):

Khadoni Pitt Chambers, Research Coordinator

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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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Want to give back this holiday season?

As the living wage soars, 1 in 11 families in Greater Victoria are considered low-income. Even more alarming is the fact that over 14% of local children are living in poverty, according to a recent study by the CSPC.

We believe that an equitable, sustainable, and affordable Greater Victoria is in reach, but is only achievable when we collectively work together to support underserved populations.

This holiday season, we are asking you to please consider supporting a local non-profit, family, or anyone who could use a helping hand.


Check out this list from Victoria Buzz which includes numerous charities and non-profits you could support this giving season.

The Mustard Seed 

The Mustard Seed Street Church has helped fight hunger and restore faith to people living in harsh conditions in greater Victoria since 1975.

The Mustard Seed accepts food, clothing and Christmas hamper donations.

  • Where: The Mustard Seed, 625 Queens Avenue
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Food bank hours are Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Victoria Community Fridge 

The fridge operates on a “take what you need, leave what you can” basis, as an exciting way to strengthen the community.

Everyone is welcome to take whatever they need from the fridge, whenever.

The fridge is open 24/7 and directly accessible from the sidewalk.

Acceptable donations to the community fridge and pantry items include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Unopened or bulk dry goods (pasta, rice, legumes, baking supplies)
  • Sealed hygiene items (diapers, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, tampons, pads, and soaps)
  • Sealed pet food, and snacks (granola bars, crackers, etc.)

Accepted products with labelled expiry dates:

  • Bread and pastries
  • Fresh eggs
  • Dairy products or alternatives
  • Soy products and meat alternatives

What the community fridge does not accept:

  • Open or used items
  • Raw meat or seafood
  • Opened or half-eaten food (unless individually packaged)
  • Alcohol
  • Mouldy or seriously damaged bread or produce
  • Frozen food
  • Leftovers or premade meals*
  • Where: Victoria Community Fridge, 2725 Rock Bay Avenue
  • When: Open 24/7

The Rainbow Kitchen

Founded in 2010, Rainbow Kitchen is a family-friendly community kitchen that specializes in providing delicious meals and connecting the community to resources.

Everyone is welcome, no questions asked.

If you or someone you know needs food, Rainbow Kitchen can help. With a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, Rainbow Kitchen serves 10,000 meals every month.

The Rainbow Kitchen accepts pasta, rice, tomatoes, beans, canned vegetables, toiletries, cooking oils/sprays, coffees and teas, flour and sugar on a regular basis.

For those looking to donate fresh food products, the Rainbow Kitchen encourages people to contact them before dropping off items.

  • Where: Victoria Rainbow Kitchen, 500 Admirals Road
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Sandy Merriman House

Sandy Merriman provides emergency shelter for 25 women who are homeless. We welcome trans women, gender fluid and non-binary people.

Due to staff shortages and limited space, the staff at the Merriman House are only able to receive donations on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

After the New Year donations will go back to being accepted on a daily basis.

  • Where: Sandy Merriman House, 809 Burdett Avenue
  • When: Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank 

The Lions Food Bank accepts a variety of food donations and food hampers.

December donation hours include Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food hamper donations can be accepted Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

  • Where: Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank, 9586 Fifth Street
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Anawim House

The Anawim house is a drop-in and transition house for the homeless and those living on the margins in Victoria.

The Anawim House is able to accept donations of perishable as well as non-perishable food items. Dry food goods as well as maintenance supplies are also gratefully accepted.

If you have any questions about donations, please contact House Director Terry Edison Brown at (250) 382-0283 or e-mail info@anawimhouse.com.

  • Where: Anawim House, 973 Caledonia Avenue
  • When: Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. With the exception of Wednesdays. 

The Soup Kitchen

The Soup Kitchen is staffed by volunteers and funded by community donations, for 40 years the Soup Kitchen has fed those in need.

The kitchen’s brown bagged meals are given out to over 30,000 diners annually. For many, this is their only meal of the day.

The Soup Kitchen gladly accepts sealed and fresh food donations, warm clothes and personal care products. Those donating are encouraged to call 778-440-7687 if you have any questions.

  • Where: The Soup Kitchen, 740 View Street
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Our Place Society

Our Place Society has grown from a unique inner-city community centre to nine locations serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable, including people struggling with homelessness, mental health challenges, substance use issues, the working poor, and the impoverished elderly.

From community meals that rely on public donations, to Christmas gifts and warm clothing these are 13 ways our place society accepts donations from the public.

  • Where: Our Place Society919 Pandora Avenue
  • When: Monday to Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (food bank)

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul seeks, in a spirit of justice and charity, helps those who are poor, in need, or living with disabilities.

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul accepts anything from food donations, clothes, household items, electronics including TV’s and game consoles, to furniture, antique merchandise, and hundred-year-old literature!

All donations are now being accepted at the societies, 1010 Craflower Road, Esquimalt and 2784 Claude Road, Langford locations.

  • Where:

    • Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, 1010 Craigflower Road
      • Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    • Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, 2784 Claude Road
      • Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Living Edge

After moving to Victoria from South Africa in 2011, Pastor Neil noticed a lot of people in downtown Victoria were in need of food.

In an effort to support the community, Neil began gathering food once a week from grocery stores to hand it out to people from the trunk of his car.

Years later, his efforts have now formed Living Edge, a Victoria-based charity that is dependent on funding from individuals, groups, businesses, and churches.

The Living Edge’s focus is providing fresh food – not just canned goods – to local residents.

Living Edge accepts donations of surplus food from businesses and paid donations from the public.

Donations to Living Edge go directly to pay the expenses of operating their programs.

  • Where: Living Edge, 510 Constance Avenue
  • When:  The following donation drop-off locations include:
    • Monday 2:30-3:45 p.m. UVic Family Circle – 2375 Lam Circle
    • Monday 5- 6 p.m. Central Baptist Church – 833 Pandora Ave., Victoria
    • Tuesday 4:30-6 p.m. Gateway Baptist Church – 898 Royal Oak Ave., Victoria
    • Thursday 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Quadra Village Community Centre – 901 Kings Rd., Victoria
    • Thursday 5:30-6:30 p.m. Saanich Baptist Church – 7577 Wallace Dr., Victoria
    • Friday 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Open Gate Church – 679 Goldstream Ave., Langford
    • Saturday 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Harbourview Church – 511 Constance Ave., Esquimalt

BC SPCA Victoria Pet Food Bank Program

The Victoria BC SPCA has a pet food bank- it’s free, confidential, and judgment-free. We don’t ask for identifying information.

Folks can take what they need: pet food, treats, and an assortment of other gently used items like leashes, litter pans, dog bowls, etc.

If you are interested in supporting the Victoria BC SPCA Pet Food Bank program, the initiative accepts donations of unopened pet food and treats, gently used items, beds and carriers!

Drop-off is available at reception during reception hours Tuesday to Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Where: Victoria BC SPCA, 3150 Napier Lane
  • When: Every Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Full credit goes to Victoria Buzz for this list, view the original article here.

Affordability Targets Needed as David Eby Releases Housing Plan

Community Council report spotlights the need for affordability targets as David Eby announces B.C. affordable housing plan

GREATER VICTORIA: The Community social planning Council is pleased to see action provincially on housing.

The announcement of the move towards setting housing targets is welcome but there has been no mention of how affordability will be part of those targets. A recent report from the Community Council on housing needs data: Filling the Gap identifies the serious need for housing for households with lower incomes.

"This legislation will move the needle on the housing crisis if the housing targets specify not just how much, but also who needs housing, what kind, and at what cost." says report author, Nicole Chaland, "If the targets do not specify this, aiming at them will be like shooting in the dark." 

The report shows that in Greater Victoria there is an existing deficit of nearly 3,500 homes that rent for $375 each month and 14,200 homes that rent for less than $875 monthly.

"We have seen that supply alone is not going to resolve the housing crisis," says Diana Gibson, Executive Director of the Community Council, "Housing costs were a key factor in the living wage jumping 20% this year - affordability needs to be a strong focus in any targets that are set by the government."

The report partners with the HART (Housing Assessment Resource Tools) project based at the University of British Columbia. Hart is developing standardized ways to measure and address housing need, with a focus on improving the balanced supply of housing.  

According to Craig Jones, HART Coordinator, "provincial-municipal targets will need to be linked to robust, equity-focused, data. " He adds, "Our tool measures housing need by income group with intersectionality that allows us to look at housing needs for priority populations such as single parents."

Victoria

(City of Victoria)

Eqsuimalt

(Township of Esquimalt)

Saanich

(District of Saanich)

Living Wage Report 2022 Event

The Living Wage is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children must each earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child-care, medical needs, food, and transportation), once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been taken into account. The Living Wage for our region is calculated annually by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC).

As those in the region can attest, the cost of living continues to soar.

Join us on November 17, 2022, from 12-1pm to discuss the living wage, and ways in which we can make life more affordable in our region.

Guest speakers at the event will consist of a panel of Living Wage advocates, community members, and local business owners.

This event is part of the CSPC's continuing dialogue on affordability and is in partnership with the United Way.

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 commit to active listening and humility in working with Indigenous Peoples.

Making Affordable Housing Happen: Non-profit Solutions for Cities

What is affordable? What can municipalities and the non-profit sector do to help achieve affordability?

Housing affordability has been out of reach for many people living in our communities for a substantial period of time. A change to the status quo is necessary in order to develop a healthy economy where housing serves as a home and a place of shelter, not just an asset.

Join us from 12:30-2pm PST on November 16th as municipal leaders in the non-profit field discuss non-market solutions to the housing crisis. Past reports and webinars such as the Housing Needs Assessment, Drivers of Homelessness, and Tenant Displacement Protection will provide a base for much of the conversation.

Stick around for the last 30 minutes of the webinar for the Community Social Planning Council's AGM.

Speakers at the event will include:

  • Jill Atkey, CEO of BC Non-profit Housing Association
  • Kathy Stinson, CEO, Cool Aid Society
  • Carolina Ibarra, CEO, Pacifica Housing
  • Corinne Saad, Executive Director, Gorge View Society

This event is part of the CSPC's continuing dialogue on housing affordability, learn about our initiatives here.

Watch the recording here

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 commit to active listening and humility in working with Indigenous Peoples.

The intersection of climate transitions and equity

On September 20th, 2022, Climate Equity team members Lorenzo Magzul and Chelsea Power had the opportunity to speak to the BC Poverty Reduction Community of Practice. The CoP meets monthly to learn from each other, to enable professional self-development, and to build capacities of their local poverty reduction initiatives.

You can view the presentation as recorded by Zoom at the link below.

You will need the passcode: rWdtH4b. (include the period).

BC Carbon Pricing Review Equity Survey

In May and June of this year, the Community Social Planning Committee of Greater Victoria supported B.C.’s Carbon Pricing Review by

  • hosting multiple engagement sessions for vulnerable populations and the agencies that work with them,
  • creating and distributing an online survey, and
  • collating what was recorded in the sessions and through the survey in a report to the province.

Our work continues as we develop an understanding of what services and programs are currently available to support British Columbians manage the impacts of carbon pricing.

Our report to the government will help inform their decisions on updated carbon pricing.
Our report to the government will help inform their decisions on updated carbon pricing.

The Survey

This survey aims to collect information on:

  1. The different impacts of the carbon tax for diverse community members, especially those with low incomes.
  2. How carbon tax programs could be designed to help address fairness and affordability.
  3. Challenges accessing carbon tax programs such as the Climate Action Tax Credit.

Feedback from engagement sessions held in May and this survey will inform the provincial government’s review of B.C.’s carbon tax and associated programs, which aims to understand its impacts on affordability for households and businesses.

The Sessions

Between May 16 and May 26, 2022 the Community Social Planning Council hosted six community engagement sessions for British Columbians to learn and share as part of the government of British Columbia's review of Carbon Pricing.

For context on the Carbon Pricing engagement sessions held in May, watch this video recording of one session: