Greater Victoria risks becoming an unaffordable location with few amenities and mediocre productivity unless it reverses its current course in the areas of housing and infrastructure among other areas. (Black Press Media file photo)

Greater Victoria risks becoming an unaffordable location with few amenities and mediocre productivity unless it reverses its current course in the areas of housing and infrastructure among other areas. (Black Press Media file photo)

Lack of affordable housing undermines Greater Victoria’s global advantages

Series of reports highlights regional advantages, but warns of challenges ahead

Greater Victoria risks becoming an unaffordable location with few amenities and mediocre productivity unless it reverses its current course in the areas of housing and infrastructure among other areas.

This assessment appears in a report prepared by an international consulting firm for the South Island Prosperity Partnership.

“Without more decisive moves, Greater Victoria may slowly and steadily become locked into a development path that is medium-productivity, low-affordability, low- amenity, and vulnerable to future shocks,” it reads.

This finding appears in the executive summary of a trilogy of reports prepared by The Business of Cities, a London-based consulting firm.

The first of the three reports describes current conditions, the second highlights developments in 10 comparable city-regions around the world, while the final report describes Victoria’s potential path toward achieving what the report calls global fluency.

“Global fluency is about how regions read the world, navigate the map of global opportunity, and develop the capabilities and outreach to continually succeed and compete,” it reads. Accordingly, city-regions that cannot read global opportunities tend to get stuck in narrow economic formulas that ultimately reduce their appeal, it reads.

The consultants find that Greater Victoria possesses advantages that set it apart not just nationally but globally. They include what the report calls “an exceptional environment, low pollution, special access to nature, lower crime, superior health care, and quality education, all delivered within a region that is, for now, more compact and easier to get around than many.”

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But these advantages may only be temporary. Other comparable cities and metropolitan regions do consistently better attracting and retaining younger workers because they have more urban fabric, infrastructure, and concentration (of young people). Within this context, the report points to the region’s lack of affordable housing.

“Less affordable housing and fewer large anchor firms than other peer regions are clear constraints,” it reads. “The evidence suggests that despite promising industry specializations, innovation outcomes do not yet match the region’s entrepreneurial spirit and innovation infrastructure.”

Looking ahead, the report recommends Greater Victoria take three immediate steps to develop its global fluency: develop a resilient, innovation-led economy in its downtown core; develop an outward-facing innovation and business brand (to counter Victoria’s relative low international profile) and develop a clear and complementary role in the Cascadia region.

“These three priorities can be a lead focus in the next period,” it reads. “Later on, once momentum has been clearly established in these three areas and Greater Victoria has become truly globally oriented, the region can usefully focus on what will be needed in the next phases.”


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Greater Victoria