The South Island Prosperity Index shows a snapshot of Greater Victoria and compares it to other peer cities. (Black Press Media file photo)

The South Island Prosperity Index shows a snapshot of Greater Victoria and compares it to other peer cities. (Black Press Media file photo)

Transportation, housing, diversity need improvement in Greater Victoria

South Island Prosperity Index provides snapshot of region

The Greater Victoria region is outperforming comparable cities in areas such as employment and the environment but still has room to improve when it comes to housing, transportation infrastructure and diversity.

On Thursday, May 21, the 2020 South Island Prosperity Index launched providing a snapshot of where Greater Victoria is positioned compared to similar cities in Canada and around the world. The index features data on 33 different indicators that are part of three different themes: economic vibrancy, equity and inclusion and environmental prosperity.

In one example Greater Victoria was compared to five Canadian peer regions – Vancouver, Halifax, Ottawa-Gatineau, Kelowna and Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo – and four international regions – Oslo, Norway; Wellington, New Zealand; Boulder, Colo.; and Greater Seattle, Wash.

Key findings in the index’s summary show Greater Victoria is outperforming its peer cities in areas related to employment. The region has a lower unemployment rate for both general and Indigenous populations, sitting at 3.4 per cent for 2020. The average unemployment rate for Canadian peer cities is 4.9 per cent and 3.6 per cent for international peer cities.

READ ALSO: South Island leaders form taskforce to address economic crisis amidst COVID-19

Alex Welch, vice president for strategy and operations at BDO Canada – an advisory and accounting firm that partnered on producing this report – says the low unemployment rate is generally good but not for everyone, particularly employers struggling to find employees with the right skills.

The Greater Victoria region also has a higher number of education degrees per 100,000 people and a higher concentration of Indigenous businesses relative to the national average.

Peer cities are outperforming the region when it comes to real GDP per capita. In Victoria, the GDP per capita is $46,865. The average for Canadian peer cities is $59,517 and for international peer cities is $93,841.

“A community with a larger portion of retirees is going to show up with a lower GDP per capita,” Welch notes.

In the Equity and Inclusion category, the Greater Victoria region still has work to do when it comes to things such as transportation and rental vacancies and rates. According to the report, the region has low apartment vacancy rates which shows it is a popular place to live but that new rentals need to be built quickly to keep up with demand. Low vacancy rates have also led to an increase in apartment rental prices at a rate greater than peer cities.

While residents in Greater Victoria face an average commute time of 22 minutes – which is low compared to peer cities – the region is lacking in transportation infrastructure systems. The report says this indicates the region’s transportation options are adequate for some areas at the current population but, due to a projected increase in population growth, transportation infrastructure will become more important.

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

The homeless population in Greater Victoria is almost double compared to peer cities which could be a reflection of higher costs of shelter and other factors like mild weather, the report says.

Greater Victoria is also less diverse than its peer cities across Canada. The percentage of foreign-born individuals in the region is 18 per cent where as the percentage is 19 per cent in Canadian peer cities and 20 per cent in international peer cities. The report says Greater Victoria does have more than 17,000 Indigenous peoples of which 9,000 are First Nations, representing four per cent of the region’s population compared to three per cent for Canadian peer regions and two per cent for international peers.

When it comes to the environment, Greater Victoria is doing great, as it supports environmental sustainable practices more than Canadian peer cities.

“Victoria does well here, it’s why people want to visit and retire here but we need to make sure we can improve over time and not fall behind,” Welch says.

More energy is sourced from renewable sources compared to Canadian peer regions. Less greenhouse gases are expelled in Greater Victoria, less water is consumed per capita and there are a greater number of public transport trips per capita per year compared to all if its peer cities except Oslo.

“[Greater Victoria] can learn from Oslo on how to become one of the best metro regions globally when it comes to commuting to work by public transit, walking or cycling,” the report says.

The 2020 South Island Prosperity Index is online at southislandprosperity.ca/prosperity-index/.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

economy

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

Just Posted

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak in two houses at the Mount St. Mary long-term care home on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at Victoria long-term care home

Resident, staff member test positive for COVID-19 at Mount St. Mary facility

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is helping Saanich police locate a suspect who allegedly stole an iPhone from a building in the 3100-block of Foul Bay Road on April 7. (Image via the Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police seek suspect in cell phone theft

White iPhone XR reported stolen from building on Foul Bay Road April 7

Victoria police are looking for a 38-year-old man after he allegedly assaulted and choked a missing 15-year-old victim in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
15-year-old choked in Beacon Hill tent, Victoria police assaulted while intervening

Police searching for 38-year-old suspect, two officers injured in altercation with park residents

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Most Read