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Plus: Another new high for home prices, & an Island boarder going for Paralympic gold
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TOGETHER WITH

Good morning, and happy Saturday!

We’ve got a jam-packed roundup for you this morning, including the story of a Campbell River snowboarder chasing Paralympic gold, record-breaking home prices in the Capital Region, and the latest on a criminal investigation after a Nanaimo house explosion. Plus, more of your thoughts on the future of Government Street and its proposed redesign.

Martin,
Newsletter editor

☀️ Today’s Victoria weather: 12C and sunny.

Floating homes in Fisherman's Wharf. Photo: wolf4max (Flickr).
Greater Victoria benchmark home price hits $1.1 million, per new VREB report
The benchmark price of a single-family home in the Capital Region has jumped nearly $250,000 from a year ago, according to new figures from the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB)—furthering calls from affordable housing advocates for municipal action.

The newest numbers, which also put the average price of a single-family home at $1.4 million, are just the latest indication of a housing market increasingly out of reach for most Victorians.

Record prices, but no one selling
At the root of the issue, the real estate board argues, is low inventory. There were 849 active listings for sale in February 2022, a 35.9% drop compared to the same time last year.

“Without a strong government focus on increasing supply, buyers will continue to face escalating prices and difficult market conditions,” VREB president Karen Dinnie-Smith wrote in a release.

Greater Victoria—largely zoned for single-family housing—has faced an uphill journey to densifying. The BC government has hinted at interventions that would allow for duplexes, triplexes, and widespread multi-family zoning, but no changes have been made yet. The City of Victoria has also been looking at a mass pre-zoning of the core for higher density construction.

Vancouver Island Regional Library in Port Alice. Photo: Russell McNeil
Strike looming for Island’s biggest library system
Librarians working for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) have voted to strike. There may be picket lines in front of libraries across the Island by Wednesday.

The central issues for the union, BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), are an effective loss of wages due to inflation, health and safety issues like violence in branches, and what it calls “disrespectful working conditions.”

Librarians don’t want job action,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith in a statement released Friday. “They want respect from their employer. Yet all they’ve received is delays, unfair proposals and disrespectful treatment – and that’s just during bargaining.”

A response from the library management posted to the VIRL website insisted the new, rejected offer included greater compensation increases than had been previously discussed.

In a letter to library trustees, 48 librarians working for the system pleaded their case after taking the strike vote.

“Most of us became librarians because we care about community service and about literacy. We believe in access to information and literacy resources,” the letter reads. “We also find ourselves on the frontlines, dealing with the impacts of poverty, addiction, climate and mental health crises. We struggle to manage in-branch overdose crises, violence, and abuse with ever-increasing demands to fill gaps in the social safety net. Now we are dealing with all these issues during a global pandemic.”

A spokesperson for BCGEU said the separate union representing other library employees was expected to support any job action the librarians take. The spokesperson declined to specify the full scope of the job action that’s being considered.

The Vancouver Island Regional Library system includes, within the CRD, the Sooke and Sidney libraries.

TOGETHER WITH BAY CENTRE
Orchard on View celebrates 18 years of business
March 8 is International Women’s Day; it also marks 18 years since Mei Lee opened Orchard on View at the Bay Centre in downtown Victoria.

Mei’s story is one of success: a single female parent, starting their own independent business to create a new life with their son. While Mei’s son has since graduated university, Mei continues to offer made in-house sandwiches and soups.


Orchard on View has become a staple for downtown office workers. In the early mornings you will find Mei behind the counter surrounded by the scent of her freshly made banana loaf in the shop offering the warmest welcome.

Orchard on View is located on View Street, exterior of the Bay Centre. Stop by and say hi to Mei!

Image credit: Downtown Victoria Business Association

Capital Picks

👩‍👧 Spring fair double feature at Pearkes Rec Centre: The Victoria Baby & Family Fair and the Victoria Women’s Expo are both on today and tomorrow, with tickets granting admittance to both.

✊🏾 Worlds Within: African Ancestry Dialogue II: A morning of storytelling, music, and conversation on the diversity of African roots within British Columbia. The free online event runs today from 10am until 1pm.

🏂 Campbell River snowboarder chases Paralympic gold: 5 years after a skydiving accident changed his life, Tyler Turner begins his quest for gold in Beijing, after winning 3 World Cup golds. He competes in the Para Snowboard event today at 7pm.

🎵 Victoria Conservatory of Music proudly presents the Spark to Flame Student Showcase, an in-person concert on Saturday, March 12 at 7:30pm in Alix Goolden Hall. Purchase tickets here.*

⚡️ Women Leading Change: On March 9, join UVic and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor for Women Leading Change, featuring powerful voices in industries where women remain underrepresented.*

*Sponsored Listing

COVID Updates: March 4

Island Health

  • 65 new / 31,921 total
  • 221 deaths (4 new) / 59 in hospital (+1) / 1 in ICU (-2)

BC

  • 340 new / 349,944 total
  • 2,903 deaths (+7) / 484 in hospital (-27) / 69 in ICU (-10)
  • BC population, ages 5+: 1+ doses: 90.7% / 2+ doses: 86.4%
  • Ages 12+: 1+ doses: 93.3% / 2+ doses: 90.8% / 3 doses: 56.0%

In Other News

⚡️ Victoria to build 650 electric vehicle charging stations, spend $8.5M over 5 years
The city, which intends to build 100 charging stations in 2022, aims for 30% of all vehicles to be electric by 2030. [Vic News]

🔎 Police watchdog investigating RCMP traffic stop in Cobble Hill
The driver reported to police that she “sustained a serious but not life-threatening injury” during her Feb. 11 arrest near Shawnigan Lake.

🚔 Nanaimo house explosion is now a criminal investigation
Police had been called to the boarded-up Pine Street property multiple times in recent months.

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In Case You Missed It

🏡 Victoria council moves ahead with heritage plans for Vic West street: A push to designate Robert Street as a Heritage Conservation Area continues onward, after council voted unanimously in favour of proceeding with the citizen-led initiative. Some worry the designation could set a dangerous precedent for the city’s future affordability. A public hearing awaits.

🛻 Weekend honks could draw fines: Amid convoy-related complaints, Victoria police and bylaw officers can now fine horn-honkers up to $125 for unnecessary noise.

👭 This March, join Women United, the women-led force for social change at United Way, where women leaders come together to create a world of opportunity for everyone on Southern Vancouver Island. Join now.*

🥳 Hey fellow gin lovers! Going to GINUARY tomorrow, YYJ’S first-ever gin festival? Capital Daily Readers get exclusive savings here! Don’t miss out!*
*Sponsored Listing

Capital Comments

In our March 3 newsletter, we asked for your thoughts on Victoria's proposed Government Street redesign. You answered. Here are more thoughts on what the city could do:

🔵 “I was surprised that the elimination of car traffic (except deliveries) was not proposed for the first couple blocks from Humboldt. Inclusion of both the First Nations and the Chinese communities is much needed; I hope both communities are heavily involved in the planning and implementation of those aspects of the design.” — Frank Gee

🔵 “The first priority should be to extend the Government Street surface treatment to Herald Street. The second priority should be the installation of a series of interpretive kiosks explaining the history of Old Town, its buildings, and the characters who inhabited them.” — Martin Segger

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