Peter Norman, chief economist for Altus Group, spoke about the results of the 2019 South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) Index on Thursday. He said the SIPP index is about “what this region can be and where it should go.” (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Economic inequality, immigration still need work in Victoria: Prosperity index

Housing, environmental health factors show improvements in 2019: report

Victoria still has work to do when it comes to income equality, poverty rates and immigration.

According to the latest South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) index, Greater Victoria falls behind peer cities in some key areas, but is surging ahead in others – including rental housing.

The index, which released its first report in 2017, is an annual measure of regional progress across five key areas: economic resiliency, transportation and mobility, housing and affordability, human health, and environmental health.

SIPP takes a snapshot of the region, comparing its position to peer cities across Canada and the globe.

The 2019 report, released Thursday, showed a low percentage of immigrants in the Greater Victoria area, something that surprised Dallas Gislason, SIPP’s director of economic development.

“The reason that surprised me is that I always see Greater Victoria as a very welcoming…culturally diverse [place],” he said. “We have all these attributes that make us welcoming to immigrants and refugees but the numbers don’t show that we’re getting enough people.”

Immigrants make up 18.3 per cent of Greater Victoria’s population, falling short of peer cities which average at 26.9 per cent.

That’s a concern, says Gislason, because diversity is key to economic development.

“Diversity actually creates strength in an economy. And it also is actually statistically proven to increase things like innovation and the number of new startups…so immigration is something we need to address.”

READ ALSO: South Island Prosperity makes final push for Smart Cities

SIPP’s index also points to greater percentage of people living in poverty – 13.3 per cent to the peer city average of 12.6 – and greater income inequality for the region’s First Nations population – which includes over 17,000 people from 10 nations living both on and off-reserve.

Indigenous people make 82 per cent of the average income in Greater Victoria.

“Economic reconciliation is a big opportunity for this region,” Gislason said. “We need to do better, we need to engage First Nations continually in the process and ultimately make sure they are included in a prosperous, regional economy.

Reconciliation is a verb – it needs action, it needs process.”

The report does reveal overall progress in improving rental housing which now makes up 49.3 per cent of new developments – an 8.4 per cent increase from 2017.

“Rental stock in Greater Victoria was very old,” Gislason said. “We weren’t building rental units for the last 20 or 30 years. And what happened in the last 4-5 years, if we have started to see developers bring rental units to the table in terms of new build.

That built a bit of a pipeline and now we’re starting to see those projects go online.”

The report says Greater Victoria is also performing well in environmental health, transportation and human health – although the region’s suicide rate, at eight per 100,000 population has increased by 2.3 since 2017, and violent crime remains higher than the peer city average.

READ ALSO: South Island Prosperity Project brings Victoria international AI stage



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cat owners are being warned to keep their pets indoors after a threatening note was found posted in a North Saanich neighbourhood. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
ROAM warns Peninsula cat owners after threatening note posted in neighbourhood

Note writer doesn’t want cats pooping in their yard, threatens to trap them

West Shore RCMP are investigating a crash on Sooke Road. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Wilde)
Langford emergency crews on scene at Sooke Road crash

Almost 3,000 BC Hydro customers without power

Coun. Tara Ney rakes leaves behind Oak Bay municipal hall. Ney’s motion asking staff to do a report on alternative options to the ongoing use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Oak Bay. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay a step closer to banning gas leaf blowers

Council leans toward a study on alternatives

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Search and Rescue Technicians carry a stretcher to the CH149 Cormorant during a 442 Squadron Search and Rescue Exercise in Tofino on February 28. (Photo by: Cpl Joey Beaudin, 19 Wing Imaging, Comox)
Father and son found dead after weeklong search near Pemberton

The father and son had set out for a day of mushroom picking last Thursday

A full moon rises over Mt. Cheam on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rare full moon, Daylight Saving makes for a uniquely spooky Halloween – despite COVID-19

We can’t host costume parties but this weekend is still one for the history books

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Most Read