Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Can Greater Victoria Plan For More Retirees And Fewer Workers?

An interesting article indicates that Greater Victoria’s economy will have trouble sustaining itself in the future. The population is aging and there will be 2.8 new seniors for every new worker over the next 30 years. Issues include a lack of entry-level work force, housing for those with low incomes, care for the elderly, and how to bring in workers from areas like Duncan.

The mayor of View Royal is quoted as saying “what it does challenge is our ability to service ourselves as a community. With the very high cost of property, who is going to do the work to sustain a community of this greater size? To me this speaks directly to our regional transportation and mobilizing our labour force over the hump to Duncan and places like that, where real property costs are a bit less.”

These are serious issues, and they affect all of us in profound ways. While it may not be guaranteed that a larger city will have the answers, it is far more likely that a unified area will be able to address the issues better and more successfully than trying to slowly get 13 municipalities to work together and implement plans.

For example, a larger city would have a greater ability to:
· Identify, zone and fund property for low cost housing where younger workers might live;
· Plan and implement regional transportation;
· Identify, zone, support and facilitate regional housing for the elderly;
· Provide support for the elderly.

There are no guarantees, but logic suggests that a larger population, working together will have a greater ability to address what will be radical and unprecedented changes in our demographics. How is Oak Bay going to address the lack of people to provide support workers for the elderly? Should not residents in Langford have to help pay for elderly support services for their parents who live in Saanich? Can we just move a few miles away so we can ignore the obligations that make us a community?

Perhaps Central Saanich should put a toll on the roads leading out from the airport to help fun their own elderly support services. Could that be a situation that develops when we worry just about our limited population in a larger area.

Life in a community requires us to be a community. We need to work towards the best future possible and we cannot do it the way we are divided up right now. The future has a lot of changes in store for us and we would all be better off working together to make the best of it.

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