It’s a big number, but not an unexpected one. The recently released Economic Impact Study for the Victoria and Esquimalt Harbours – initiated by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority – divulges that harbour-based activities generated $2.9 billion in economic output, supporting 14,983 jobs across Greater Victoria in 2019.
It was commissioned, says Judith Ethier, Chief Administrative Officer, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, “to quantify with data and analysis that these two harbours are vital to the stability and growth of the economy in the region.”
This study establishes a baseline of the economic impact of the Victoria and Esquimalt harbours using a triple bottom line approach. The study was initiated using 2019 as a baseline year and data was collected directly from harbour businesses and organizations. The study also established a framework that can be used in future years to measure trends and assess economic growth and developments against the 2019 benchmark.
The quantified economic impacts can assist in regional and local planning, facilitate financial forecasting, and support major investment initiatives in the harbours.
The triple bottom approach consists of exploring the economic, social and environmental contributions being made. “We look at this with the lens of a three-legged stool – each of these pillars are equally important to the health and prosperity of the region,” says Ethier.
While the study does not reflect the impact of the pandemic on the regional economy, the 2019 baseline provides a stable benchmark for assessing and comparing future economic impacts during normal economic conditions.
Overall, Victoria and Esquimalt harbour organizations contributed $1.8 billion to local GDP (accounting for around 8% of Victoria’s overall GDP), paid $953 million in employment income, and generated $539 million in total tax revenues.
Beyond the economic impact, harbour organizations contributed over $1.7 million in 2019 to various social programs and community initiatives in addition to other in-kind donations. “These contributions included sponsoring local events, supporting charitable organizations, and providing education or training opportunities,” says Ethier.
Victoria and Esquimalt harbour organizations reported spending more than $58 million in 2019 on various environmental initiatives. “These initiatives ranged from reducing emissions, promoting sustainable practices, remediating or removing contaminants, and implementing practices that help improve the local wildlife habitats.”
Both Victoria and Esquimalt harbours contribute to a sense of community and economic stability in the region with the largest proportion of economic activity within the Esquimalt Harbour.
“The harbour organizations leverage the unique benefits of the naturally protected deep water harbour and marine transportation highway. In 2019, their economic contributions demonstrated that they are key economic drivers in the region, fueling the local and regional economy,” notes Ethier.
According to Christina Clarke, Corporate Executive Officer, Songhees Development Corporation and partner in the project, the study reveals the depth of the interconnectedness of our communities, the economy and the environment. “Our harbours represent our connection to the sea, but also to one another. Our economies are interconnected, the prosperity of one business contributes to the prosperity of all.”
Project Partners include: Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, CFB Esquimalt, City of Victoria, Canadian Coast Guard, Destination Greater Victoria, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, Public Services and Procurement Canada, Ralmax Group of Companies, Seaspan Victoria Shipyards, South Island Prosperity Partnership, Township of Esquimalt, University of Victoria, and the Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society.