Victoria’s new philanthropic frontier

City considers asking for donations toward capital projects

Crews work on improvements to Fisherman’s Wharf Park last month. Capital projects that improve quality of life

Call it a sign of the times.

Victoria residents will soon have the opportunity to make a donation toward their city’s capital projects, if a new legacy fund gets the green light from city council.

While endowment funds are typically directed to a social service or centre for the arts, the proposed Shape Your Future Legacy Fund will direct citizen donations to such projects as bike lanes, playgrounds or bus shelters.

“In the long term we could use this fund to build a new swimming pool, or do anything that citizens want to do,” said Coun. Lisa Helps.

She is scheduled to introduce the idea to council at its governance and priorities committee meeting tomorrow (July 19).

At a time when the city faces an infrastructure deficit of approximately $500 million, the fund could help the city achieve the types of things that improve quality of life, freeing up money to deal with necessary infrastructure projects, such as sewers and roads.

If council approves the fund – alongside a $7,500 contribution – it would likely be the first in Canada. It could prove to be the new frontier of philanthropy as municipalities across North America find creative ways to deal with crumbling infrastructure and declining revenues.

Whether Victoria residents will have an appetite to donate is another question. Taxpayers have come to expect their tax dollars will pay for the types of projects that this legacy fund targets.

“It may very well have some appeal, but it’s hard to say,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation. “It’s perhaps not as appealing (as other endowment funds), but if you think about all the wonderful things that are in the city and if people think ‘my goodness, the city can’t afford to do this, maybe if I left something of my estate, the Crystal Pool could continue to exist.’”

When Richardson first heard of the idea, she called Helps and offered to partner with the city to manage the fund.

The Victoria Foundation has offered $7,500 on condition the city matches the contribution.

People could make a small monthly donation, or make a large one-time donation, Helps said.

Crystal Pool, she pointed out, was built thanks to a legacy from the McPherson family. Today, the pool is nearing the end of its serviceable life, but the city has no funds allocated to replace the facility. A new campaign through the Legacy Fund could put donations to work to build its replacement.

Embracing this type of fund will take an attitude of ownership, said Richardson.

“It should be more about ‘If this is our community, how do we keep it to be this beautiful, vibrant community?’ Funding in all three government sectors has really been pushed back, so it does cause people to say, ‘how can we work differently?’ It will be quite interesting to see the result of this.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Ancient microbes discovered off the Juan de Fuca Ridge potentially offers glimpse into alien life

The marine bacteria is dependent on hydrogen, a compound present almost everywhere

Saanich rental project wins silver by going ‘green’

The Verve rental housing project stands at the corner of Boleskine Road and Whittier Avenue

Volunteers needed for annual Mother’s Day walk

Breast Cancer Society of Canada hosts annual Mother’s Day event

Sidney Lions dish $4,000 to help build on growing trishaw bike charity

Cycling Without Age Society draws attention as far off as Washington

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

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

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Most Read