The Victoria Foundation’s 2022/23 Vital Conversation series, in partnership with Coast Capital, worked to address a key concern: affordability. There were two key parts to our Vital Conversation series this year:

  1. the first was a panel discussion at the 2022 Rising Economy Conference hosted by the South Island Prosperity Partnership
  2. the second was a discussion with 50 cross sector community leaders to help find solutions to the challenges.

The Vital Conversations have a strong focus on advancing ideas about the data found in Victoria’s annual Vital Signs report. The conversations are meant to act as an opportunity to identify solutions and take action.

Rising Economy Conference panel discussion


You can delve into the Rising Economy Conference panel discussion in the video to your left and read a blog post summarizing the session here.

The panel took place on Thursday, November 17, 2022.

June 2023 Vital Conversation

At the second session on June 22, 2023, we brought together key stakeholders to generate new ideas for how different sectors can collaborate and work towards local solutions on the affordability crisis in the capital region. The Vital Conversation sought to provide an opportunity to address key findings from the 2022 Vital Signs report about growing affordability concerns in the region, particularly in the areas of housing, food, and childcare. Building on promising examples of local innovations currently working to address affordability, the interactive event focused on exploring ways to activate and spark collaborative and innovative new community-driven solutions and collaborations.


A guiding question of the conversation was “where do we have local agency, influence and control to affect local affordability?”


Vital Conversations on Affordability for All

2023 Vital Conversation Themes

  • THEME #1: Strengthen funder/organization collaboration
  • THEME #2: Promote an affordability culture shift through community engagement and story sharing
  • THEME #3: Strengthen community wealth (through asset mapping, pooling and scaling solutions)
  • THEME #4: Strengthen community owned affordable housing (and land)
  • THEME #5: Structures to support collaboration and partnerships on affordability
  • THEME #6: Strengthen the policy environment to support diverse affordable housing
  • THEME #7: Strengthen local food security

What are the top local opportunities for strengthening affordability?

Based on the Vital Conversations, below are some of the top local opportunities for strengthening affordability.  

Foster collaboration and partnerships

• Convening and fostering partnerships
• Convening regular/frequent tables with diverse participants to cross pollinate ideas
• Bring together partners (policy makers, regulators, politicians, activists, students, providers, developers, researchers, investors, financiers) to develop shared strategy for affordability (housing, transportation, childcare, food security) using storytelling
• Regional alignment in approaches to housing by having everyone bring something to the table
• Support community initiatives/collaborations at government level (vs. Policy managing down)
• Funders to get involved in the program level to understand the roots of the issues

Identify, pool and leverage assets

• Mapping systems and providing system navigators (FTE) to spread sector resources
• Ensuring we’re appropriately marketing and communicating the issues, solutions, and opportunities
• Community skills inventory of assets “marketplace” concept
• Pooling resources and sharing services to support cross-sector leadership and governance training and development – free up resources
• Impact pooling – community assets, leverage capital to find more brick and mortar community hubs, land owners

Cultivate a culture shift and shared vision for affordability

• Shared values
• Cultural shift to support community wealth for good
• Expand our horizons
• Shared vision to start over and reset. Be bold and brave. Let the experts lead and replicate.
• Sharing/promotion of sharing collective community success stories
• Shared living: multi-family, multi-generational, re-zoning for carriage houses & renovations requires changing policies, cultural shift from large private homes to smaller shared spaces.
• Make it easier to establish shared living tenure.

Establish leadership and structures for innovation

• Developing centres of excellence.
• Build on what works, leverage innovation, replicate and upscale what works.
• Replicability of ideas and solutions.
• Focus on the solution.

Focus area/topic specific opportunities:

• Celebrating and incentivizing agriculture
• Integrated mobility and transportation systems regionally, e.g. Copenhagen
• Advocate for increased campus and military (workforce) housing, shared housing, etc.
• Training/support/shared upskilling services to help facilitate workforce needs (innovations, wage gaps, skills and knowledge etc. – all about leverage) across different sectors (developers, service providers, government)

$75,000 adds spark to local affordability initiatives

The Victoria Foundation believes in the power of conversations to build relationships that lead to solutions. On June 22, 2023, the Victoria Foundation in partnership with Coast Capital brought together more than 50 leaders from various sectors for a Vital Conversation on where, and how, our local communities have agency and opportunities to make life more affordable. While this Vital Conversation was an important start, it takes more than conversation to create lasting change. For this reason, the Victoria Foundation launched the Spark Funds. 

Registered charities and qualified donees in the capital region were invited to apply to the Spark Funds in June 2023. This special grant supports exploring solutions and cross-sector collaborations that focus on creating an affordable community for all. From food security and farming sustainability to housing affordability and asset mapping, the funds will help spark life to a range of projects. 

$75,000 in funding was distributed in $5,000, $10,000, and $15,000 increments to 7 initiatives. We’d like to give a special thank you to Coast Capital for contributing $20,000 in support of two projects. 

Spark Funds announcement

Vital Conversation Event

Next Steps for the Victoria Foundation

The Victoria Foundation is taking the results from the 2022/23 Vital Conversation series and working to identify how best to action these areas. While no organization or person can tackle this challenges in isolation, we can work to find solutions and do our part! We will also work to continue to follow the progress of the organizations that have received Spark Funds!

Next Steps for the Community

For the community, we are encouraging people to review the recommendations and see how they can potentially work towards solutions.

In partnership with Coast Capital

Coast Capital

Thank yous:

Shift Collaborative

Songhees Development Corporation

Aryze Developments

Scale Collaborative

Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundatble