Understanding the Greater Victoria economy

July 1, 2015

SAANICH – We are so privileged to live in this region. It’s a true mosaic of communities each of which contribute to the lifestyle and prosperity of the whole. One of the greatest places on earth.

Tourism Victoria’s recent video promoting our entire region brilliantly captures the ‘why’ of why we live where we do.

(https://youtu.be/LUXZ1OjFUIM). Although the video features visitors, my experience has been that most locals respond similarly.

Tourism Victoria’s recent video promoting our entire region brilliantly captures the ‘why’ of why we live where we do.

Local business owners/managers, have much the same reaction when questioned why we chose to locate our business here. While there are many valid personal influences, there are also many compelling business reasons.

Explanations become stronger and more business related when asked, “why the Saanich Peninsula in particular” and even more so when asked, “why Sidney, Central Saanich and/or North Saanich.”

It is important to understand the regional economy. Consider that almost no business located in Sidney operates in isolation from Central Saanich or North Saanich. And although these business may compete for clients, which is a healthy part of an economy at any scale, that’s not necessarily what needs attention. Consider instead the supply chain.

For example: A manufacturing company located next to the Airport may rely on a trucking company in Central Saanich to move raw materials to the site – the trucking company supplying those goods benefits from this business but is sustained only if it can supply other companies.

Both companies will depend on maintaining employees in the region to supply the labour necessary to operate. Those employees will live throughout the greater Victoria region, stimulating other sectors of the economy. Consider that the Peninsula has 50 per cent of the entire capital region’s manufacturing base of which about 60 per cent of their workforce commute from either Saanich/Oak Bay or the Westshore communities.

Also, our own behaviour as individual consumers has consistently shown that we move through the region. Economic Development Officer Dallas Gislason pointed out to me recently, that “citizens in Sidney are just as likely to shop in Langford at Costco as residents in other pockets of the region are to shop in downtown Sidney. The key should be, keeping each “shopping destination” unique and take advantage of that uniqueness through planning and positioning that aligns to the attributes

On the topic of the global economy, consider also that the three municipalities on the Peninsula together provide the greater proportion of Victoria’s global tourism brand, i.e., Central Saanich’s Butchart Gardens, North Saanich’s major air and sea transportation hubs and the entire Peninsula’s suburban/rural farming culture (it’s the lands which constitute over half of the agricultural land in the CRD).

The Saanich Peninsula Chamber exists to build opportunities for businesses to communicate and collaborate on a local and regional scale. We continue to be an advocate and voice for business for the entire Peninsula and in order to serve those businesses in to the future, I am proposing that we build our understanding of our regional business environment.

As I hear John Treleaven say often, “all business is local but there will not be a vibrant regional, provincial or national economy unless every municipality understands the vital role local government plays in strengthening wealth creation.”

Please feel free to write or email me with your thoughts on what you think makes (or will make) our region a good choice for business.

– Craig Norris is the President of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at craigenorris@eagalus.ca.

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