PHOTO: Jesse Kelter presents resolution B76 at the 2017 UBCM conference.
Vancouver Island mayors are working together and with the construction industry to ease the transition to a new local government procurement process that includes the achievement of a community’s social and economic goals with a community benefit hub
While the Village of Cumberland was the first Canadian municipality to implement social procurement, the program is spreading quickly to other BC cities.
The City of Vancouver expects to adopt its policy before the end of this year, and the City of Victoria has been moving toward full-scale social procurement since 2015.
And Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has been a major player in a group of eight Vancouver Island mayors who have been meeting every quarter for the past two years. And they have worked closely with the Vancouver Island Construction Association.
One of the results of their work was to develop a proposal for a Social Procurement Hub.
“What we’ve heard from industry is that they want a coordinated approach (to social procurement),” she told Decafnation in a telephone interview. “They want predictability and consistency in the tendering process.”
The hub would provide templates for municipalities to use in their procurement process, as well as education and expertise for municipal staff as the public sector pivots to community benefits.
The hub got a boost when Cumberland Councillor Jesse Kelter put forward a resolution at the 2016 meeting of the Association of Vancouver Island Coast Communities to advance social procurement in the local government sector, and to create a hub for education and expertise. It passed overwhelmingly. And was subsequently supported at the province-wide Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Victoria has commited $50,000 for two years to fund the hub and the town of Qualicum Beach is applying for a $50,000 provincial grant.
The idea behind the hub is to prove the concept of social procurement works in a wide variety of geographic locations.
“It’s a two-year incubation period,” Helps said. “We’ll find out what’s working, and what’s not working with industry, and adjust.”
The hub would be administred and located in Victoria, but with satellite offices in Qualicum Beach and Campbell River.
Helps said the mayors group hopes to put out a contract for one hub employee who will work with industry and local governments to learn, share experiences and move social procurement forward collaboratively.
The group’s next meeting is in July at Qualicum Beach.
Comox resident Sandra Hamilton, one of Canada’s leading experts on social procurement, has been advising the mayors group.
FURTHER READING: Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ task force action plan on social procurement; City of Vancouver working paper on social procurement