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.

Agenda
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.

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Minimum wage – is the cost of living a burden low income workers or employers should shoulder?

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.

  1. Living Wage for Families Campaign. (2019). 2019 Living Wages Released: BC’s Childcare Investments Have Major Impacts. http://www.livingwageforfamilies.ca/2019_living_wages
  2. Statistics Canada. (2016). Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-400-X2016229.
  3. 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/new-living-wage-for-great-victoria-2019/

A Doughnut Shaped Recovery for Greater Victoria

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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
https://www.kateraworth.com/animations/
https://doughnuteconomics.org/tools-and-stories/2
– or this longer TED Talk version
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhcrbcg8HBw
– or this webpage – About Doughnut Economics
https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics
– Information on Businesses and Doughnut Economics
https://doughnuteconomics.org/faq/businesses-and-the-doughnut
– The Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL)
https://doughnuteconomics.org/
– 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.
https://doughnuteconomics.org/projects
– Three Times Colonist columns on this issue by Trevor Hancock 31 January 2021 – True prosperity is doughnut-shaped
https://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/trevor-hancock-true-prosperity-is-doughnut-shaped-1.24275001
-7 March 2021 – Circles and Doughnuts – The local economy we need (Published as ‘Circular
economy doesn’t go far enough’)
https://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/trevor-hancock-circular-economy-doesn-t-go-far-enough-1.24291204
– 14 March 2021 – A Doughnut economy for Victoria (Published as ‘Doughnut economy means
not spending $100M on interchange’)
https://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/trevor-hancock-doughnut-economy-means-not-spending-100m-on-interchange-1.24294174

🚨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/

Gender Balance in Entrepreneurship – What does that mean?

Gender Balance in Entrepreneurship – What does that mean?

Gender balance in entrepreneurship means moving from ‘hero-preneurship’ to collaboration and away from hierarchy to scaling through adaptation or replication by others.

As we start to re-build into a green, diverse, and inclusive economy, limiting the barriers women and newcomer entrepreneurs face will be essential. Did you know that 15.7% of small and medium enterprises are owned by women, which makes up the bulk of Canada’s companies? Canada has made progress towards narrowing the gender gap but still sits at 19th place for developed economies and fell in 2019 (from 16th place in 2017). Did you also know that when male entrepreneurs make a pitch for funding, they receive funding 68% of the time? The same pitch, made by a woman – same words, same pitch – is only funded 32% of the time.

Our report: Financial Inclusion in the Green Economy (FIGE) sets sights on addressing inequalities between genders by identifying current and future barriers to financial inclusion for women in the green economy. This report was launched in response to local anecdotes from women entrepreneurs struggling to break into the green economy.

As quoted by Mikaila Montgomery in the Times Colonist– co-coordinator of the program:

“Victoria is in some ways a leader in gender equality — but there is always room for improvement. We still hear of stories of women entrepreneurs making a pitch for funding to start a business being declined — and advised to come back with a man.”

This project is just the beginning of the conversation. The council is working on phase 2 of the project and we are always looking to hear from individuals who have been challenged with these barriers. If you would like to get in touch, please reach out to Alisha Evans at communications@communitycouncil.ca

More focus on BC youth transitioning out of care needed

The Community Social Planning Council welcomes the new report from BC’s Representative for Children and Youth that puts a spotlight on youth transitioning out of care. In the 2020 Point in Time Homeless Count for the Capital Region, 1 in 3 of the people experiencing homelessness had been in foster care or government care. This number jumps to 55% for youth aged 16 to 24.

The importance of that transition as youth age out of care is clear – for the individuals we surveyed who had been in care, 30% experienced homelessness within one month of leaving care.  Only 15% of those we surveyed felt that Child Protective Services were helpful with the transitioning to independence after leaving foster care.

Youth experiencing homelessness we surveyed asked for life skills and mental health supports. It is great to see the report focus on these areas, particularly since 70% of the youth we surveyed identified as living with mental health issues and homelessness. There is a dangerous convergence of gaps in the system for youth in care and gaps in our mental health and addictions services. The report outlines initial steps to address this but more is needed in both areas.

The higher risk for Indigenous youth is another key area needing focus as they are disproportionately represented in the foster care system and experience homelessness at higher rates. The report acknowledges the impacts of colonialism and importance of cultural connection but falls short of recommending action. Prevention is key. As the well-known Canadian Indigenous expert, Cindy Blackstock says, poverty underlies many of the health and wellness disparities affecting Indigenous children, youth and families – if it goes unaddressed very little progress will be made in closing the gap.

We applaud the report’s focus on filling the gaps for children aging out of care. However, there needs to be bigger focus on the broader economic disparities that put children and youth at risk: inequality, poverty, economic and job insecurity and lack of adequate, affordable housing. COVID has exposed those fault lines in our society and opened new opportunities to do better.

Poverty underlies many of the health and wellness disparities affecting Indigenous children, youth and families – if it goes unaddressed very little progress will be made in closing the gap in life chances and experience.

 

Diana Gibson, Executive Director of the council was approached by Chek News to provide a comment on the recent published report. Watch the full interview here.

📣 Shout-out: Thank-you BC Transit

The CSPC is giving a big SHOUT-OUT and THANK-YOU to BC Transit for donating reusable masks for the Community Council’s Low-Income Transit Assistance program.

On Thursday, November 19th, the BC government announced further restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to surge and the concern of community spread grows. Masks are now mandatory for public indoor places and thanks to BC Transit, we have a limited supply of reusable masks available for those agencies that have placed Low-Income Transit orders. Please contact our office if you would like to include this in your order or connect with Barry Hutchinson about masks when you come in to pick up your order.

We are always looking and accepting donations of disposable masks if anyone is able to help. If you have any extras, please contact us at communications@communitycouncil.ca

Be Kind. Be Calm. Be Safe

– Dr. Bonnie Henry

🚨NEWS: We are a Finalist!

The Community Social Planning Council is excited to announce that we are a finalist in this year’s City of Victoria’s Participatory Budgeting! This year’s Participatory Budgeting initiative is to support community projects benefiting new immigrants and refugees in Victoria. Our Project Active Inclusion in the Green Recovery does just that!

For more on this project and to cast your vote Click Here