The City of Langford is stepping up to give a hand to residents struggling to get into the housing market. On Monday, Langford announced a $3 million Attainable Home Ownership program, which will pay up to 75% of a 5% down-payment for a two-bedroom condo in the city.
“It’s tough for young families to get into the market, even in Langford,” Mayor Stew Young said in a news release.
The amount of funding available is based on gross annual household income. Families with incomes less than $99,999 receive 75%, while those between $100,000 and $115,000 receive 50%. Households with incomes up to $125,000 receive 25%.
The two-bedroom condos are being offered at a set purchase price of $450,000.
“This program comes at the height of a major housing crisis across the region and will assist those Langford families who could afford a mortgage payment but are struggling to save the amount necessary for a down payment," Young told CHEK News. "We want to see more Langford residents in a position where they can purchase their own home.”
A pilot project could help working parents of school-aged kids. The Seamless Day Kindergarten project, announced Monday by the BC Ministry of Education, will provide before and after school care in the same classroom that children are in for their school day. The pilot is being tried at 21 BC schools, including Millstream Elementary in the City of Langford.
The program requires no new construction and can be set up quickly. It potentially could help more parents contribute to the work force by providing quality and convenient child care at the beginning and end of typical work days.
Greater Victoria continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada. September's numbers from Statistics Canada show our region has an unemployment rate of 4.2%. That's the same as August, and second only to Quebec City's rate of 4.1%. The national rate is 6.9% and BC's rate is 5.9%.
"Women, who have been disproportionally impacted by this pandemic, led BC’s increase in employment for the month of September," Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation said in a news release.
Kahlon, who will be the guest speaker at The Chamber's AGM next week, noted that BC's average hourly wage has risen to $30.74 an hour, a bigger increase in the past five years than any other province.
A new report reveals that 43% of office space being built outside the region's core is already pre-leased. One of the examples cited is Plexxis Software, which is constructing a six-storey concrete and glass headquarters in the City of Langford. The 60,000-square-foot office next to Langford Lake is expected to be finished by 2023.
A return of office workers from their home offices is also expected to reduce vacancy rates in downtown Victoria.
One of the keys to helping employers find and keep staff is ensuring there are affordable housing and child care options in the region.
Recently announced plans for a new mixed-use development on the corner of Douglas Street and Burnside Road East will help.
The project will transform the site of the old Tally-Ho Hotel, which had been turned into temporary supportive housing for 51 people. Those tenants will have the option of moving into 54 supportive housing units being built. The Victoria Cool Aid Society will provide meals, life-skills training and counselling to help tenants overcome challenges that have put them at a higher risk of homelessness.
The project will also include 100 rental units for individuals, seniors and families who have moderate or low incomes. As well, Beacon Community Services will operate on-site child care with 36 spaces to help parents who are going back to work or school.
Construction is expected to finish in late 2023.
How will you recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation? For the first time, Canadians will officially join together tomorrow to honour Indigenous children who experienced traumatic abuse under the residential school system.
For the business community, a starting point could be the specific call to action by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Meaningful consultation, respectful relationships and ensuring consent of Indigenous peoples are among the ways businesses can help the reconciliation process. Other ways include ensuring access to jobs and training needed to benefit from economic development, as well as making sure all of us better understand the history of residential schools and ongoing challenges facing Indigenous people.
This summer, The Chamber took steps to address this call to action by creating an Indigenous Business Task Force. If you are interested in contributing to this initiative, or know someone who would be good addition, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The campaigning is over, the results are in, and now we need the federal government to renew its focus on investing in economic growth led by business.
"It's time for the federal government to take the steps needed to enable the private sector to create jobs and wealth that we need to move away from deficits and reduce public debt," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says.
The Chamber and our national network are calling on parliament to:
If you want to see where Greater Victoria's newly re-elected MPs stand on these and other issues, check out our online sessions with candidates.
Greater Victoria had the lowest unemployment rate in Canada in August, according to Statistics Canada's latest Labour Force Survey. The seasonally adjusted rate was 4.2% for our region, below the 4.4% rate of our traditional rival Quebec City. Lethbridge was also at 4.4%.
Last August, Greater Victoria's unemployment rate was 10.7%.
Greater Victoria had $202 million in building permits for July, according to Statistics Canada. The number represents a 56.4% increase over July 2020, and 26.6% jump from June 2021.
In July, Greater Victoria recorded 617 housing starts for a year-to-date total of 2,500. Of that number, 2,182 have been completed.
Across Canada, the value of building permits was $7.5 billion — up 19.6% from a year earlier but down 6.5% from June 2021.
With immunization rates in Greater Victoria among the highest in BC, it's not surprising there has been little outcry for vaccine mandates for local businesses. The Chamber's staff are 100% fully vaccinated and many of our members tell us they have had the same voluntary commitment from their employees.
Chamber CEO Bruce Williams told the Times Colonist that businesses play a leadership role in their communities and that includes finding ways to ensure the safety of staff and customers.
“I think it’s fair to say that most businesses put the health and safety of their employees as a paramount concern,” he said. “Everybody’s concerned about the economic side, but, realistically, if everybody’s healthy and in a good place so that they can continue to work and things function (that's how we move forward).”
Vaccine mandates are in place for federal workers, and there have been calls to make immunization mandatory for employees of the University of Victoria. And, last week, BC announced all health-care workers in care homes will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said she believes businesses are within their rights to impose vaccine mandates.
“These are business decisions that they need to make in conjunction with their own labour lawyer advisers,” she said. “But I do think it is a perfectly valid thing.”