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

Just Posted

Province overrules View Royal; plans to build handyDART facility

View Royal Mayor calls province’s actions “heavy handed” and “unusual”

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Oak Bay father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

Residents say Monday’s fatal crash in Saanich wasn’t unexpected

Speed has long been a concern for neighbours in the Cumberland and Union roads area

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Victoria Conservatory of Music bursary fund reaches $1M mark

The Eric and Shirley Charman Bursary Fund launched in 2017

WATCH: United Way #Drive4Five event launches campaign to raise $5 million

More than 80,000 lives changed last year by the United Way

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

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

Man who crushed Nanaimo RCMP cars with stolen truck gets more jail time

Majore Jackson, 34, sentenced to two more years in jail in provincial court in Nanaimo

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Most Read