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Greater Victoria civic agencies help drive B.C. social procurement initiative

$200 million spent by members on socially valuable goods and services in first two years
Making civic and other institutional purchases with an eye to social impact is among the goals the Coastal Communities Social Procurement Initiative, of which the City of Victoria, Township of Esquimalt and Capital Regional District are members. (Photo courtesy City of Victoria)

Continued growth in the Coastal Communities Social Procurement Initiative (CCSPI) has seen its members procure more than $200 million in socially beneficial goods and employment in the last two years, according to the organization’s first report.

The City of Victoria, Township of Esquimalt, Capital Regional District and the governments of B.C. and Canada are among 27 members – up from the founding six local governments – committed to the “emerging best practice” of sourcing such services as city maintenance, construction, hospital equipment and more from local, environmentally sustainable and/or marginalized groups.

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In 2019 the City of Victoria, for example, spent $3.9 million on corporate purchases under $1,500 including catering, restaurants, travel and office supplies. Now, when making purchases, staff consider supply chains, local jobs and living wages.

“When people are making small purchases, they don’t think they can make a difference,” city buyer Leah Hamilton said in the CCSPI report. “However, telling them that the City makes a $3.9 million collective purchase made them think they could do some good. This was exciting and empowering.”

The city is continuing with mandatory internal training and building a dedicated resource site for staff that is populated with a list of local social value suppliers and success stories.

As more public dollars are spent on construction works, said Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association – a local partner to the initiative – “social procurement initiatives have gained significant traction as a means for all levels of government, crown corporations and public institutions to leverage their existing purchasing power for value-added community outcomes.”

Phase two of the initiative will see the initiative expanded across B.C. with the implementation of new social impact measurement tools, according to their report.

“It’s been wonderful to see CCSPI grow from an idea and a small collaboration among six local governments to a fully functioning social procurement initiative with almost 30 members,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, former co-chair of the steering committee. “We look forward to working to scale CCSPI across British Columbia to help more communities and other public agencies to align their spending with the values of their communities.”

READ ALSO: City launches task force to get marginalized into the workforce

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