The Town of Qualicum Beach will be one of the founding members of a social procurement plan across Vancouver Island.
The town has entered into a two-year pilot project with an Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) working group on a social/strategic procurement plan.
Social procurement is an emerging practice of a more strategic and proactive approach to purchasing “that seeks to better leverage tax dollars to achieve positive social outcomes aligned with community values and strategic objectives,” according to a report prepared by the town’s CAO, Daniel Sailland, for the Jan. 8 council meeting.
Sailland said a working group, consisting of mayors, councillors and staff, has been working through AVICC for the better part of two years to put together a concept for a pilot hub that would “provide those resources to municipalities as well as work with the construction association and other industries to ensure that we can implement this kind of policy across Vancouver Island.”
According to the report, the AVICC working group’s aim is to develop a cohesive approach to strategic procurement across the Island while enabling municipalities to create their own strategic focus regarding community benefits.
Sailland said the City of Victoria approved entering into the pilot project the first week of January. Sailland also said the cost to the town would be $1,061 per year for the pilot project.
“It’s not a huge cost; however, the participation of many municipalities makes this feasible,” Sailland said.
In June of 2016, the Town of Qualicum Beach adopted its social procurement policy, which, it says was the country’s first social procurement policy.
Coun. Anne Skipsey said she understood the value of the initiative, but she said implementing the joint AVICC policy, “is proving to be a bit more of a challenge.”
“I just wanted to note that the town has a social procurement policy currently,” Skipsey said. “It supports the attraction and retention of families with young children and that values providing work experience and employment opportunities for youth aged 15 to 29, and that we value a high percentage of staff earning the living wage and receiving benefits amongst a list of other values and objectives.
“In the next breath, the town is looking at contracting out staff (duties) that currently meet these stated values and objectives,” said Skipsey, referring to a previous committee of the whole meeting in which council debated contracting out garbage pickup.
The committee of the whole approved retaining in-town garbage pickup, however the motion has not come to a regular council meeting yet.
Sailland previously told The NEWS an example of social procurement is, when hiring someone to pave road in the town, the town staff would see who the paving company employs, such as youth or disadvantaged people.
“It’s making sure disadvantaged groups or people have access to employment,” Sailland said, adding that the policy also ties in with the town’s Youth and Family Attraction and Retention Strategy.