When the City of Victoria hosted roundtable discussions last fall, to create their ambitious Victoria 3.0 plan, COVID-19 wasn’t on its – or anyone’s – radar. While the draft economic plan was meant to go to Council for consideration in March, the City took the time to repurpose it to address the impacts of the pandemic on the local economy.
“Victoria 3.0 is a long-term plan for a prosperous, sustainable city,” says Mayor Lisa Helps of the proposal, which was presented and adopted by Council on May 14. “The plan focuses on supporting small businesses — the lifeblood of our communities — in the recovery and re-opening phase and well into the future.”
This economic plan accompanies the City’s Official Community Plan to 2041. Its three main goals are: to support businesses to become more resilient in light of the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic; to create a city and an economy for everyone; and to build the economy over the next two decades in earth-friendly and sustainable ways.
Helps believes the future-focused agenda will help small local businesses on many different fronts.
“It’s focused on growing our innovation ecosystem, creating more high-value jobs, increasing exports, and building the economy of the future,” she says. “Over the next two decades, they’ll have more customers with more money in their pockets to spend locally, even during economic downturns.”
Action Items in the Victoria 3.0 Plan
CREATE AN ARTS AND INNOVATION DISTRICT (2020– 2022)
The Arts and Innovation District is proposed for the north end of downtown adjacent to the harbour.
CREATE AN OCEAN FUTURES CLUSTER (2020-2025)
To develop the Ocean Futures Cluster and the Ocean and Marine Innovation Hub, the City will build on major assets, including the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada, the Victoria Shipyards (operated by Seaspan), the Esquimalt Graving Dock, the Institute of Ocean Sciences and the Camosun Coastal Centre.
TECH IS #1 — TELL AND SELL VICTORIA’S TECH STORY (2020– 2041)
Support, develop and promote Victoria’s flourishing tech industry so that it continues to grow.
LEARN FROM OTHER CITIES (2020–2041)
Learn from the successes and challenges of other cities, and build on the national and global networks that Victoria is starting to participate in.
REDO VICTORIA’S BRAND AND STORY (2023 –2026)
Create a strong brand and tell a compelling story of the city.
Victoria 3.0 is meant to be complementary to the South Island Prosperity Partnership’s Rising Economy Taskforce, which is composed of 13 subcommittees that cover all aspects of the regional economy.
“It’s the largest non-government response to the pandemic in B.C.” says Dallas Gislason, director of economic development of SIPP, who was on the mayor’s advisory committee for Victoria 3.0. “This also brings an opportunity to bring in an optimistic outlook on what sort of economy we want to recover into. What do we want to evolve into? What do we want more of? It’s also an opportunity to look at supply chains and food security. We’re already seeing this shift toward local consumption — how do we maintain that?