While Greater Victoria has overall scored a “B” letter grade in the 2023 Vital Signs report, respondents noted there is a need to focus on housing, social issues and safety.
For the past 18 years the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Signs has provided a reference point for Greater Victoria.
“We really do measure what’s happening in the community and take that report card on community well-being,” says Johnathon Dyck from the Victoria Foundation.
The report surveys thousands of residents and community leaders on a variety of different topics. Each sector is graded based on data and public feedback.
The most important issues in the 2023 Vital Signs?
“This year it’s cost of living at the top, housing number two and homelessness number three,” says Dyck.
Another area the report says people want to see addressed is public safety. While overall crime is down 12 per cent from 2012, violent crime is up 30 per cent.
“We are seeing a little bit more serious assaults and random assaults and stranger on stranger attacks,” says Victoria Police Department chief Del Manak.
“That obviously is concerning and we’re obviously trying to adjust that in the best way possible.”
It’s something the City of Victoria is keeping an eye on as well with a recent program they’ve launched called the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.
“Policing clearly is part of that, but so are a whole variety of community-based programs that can build both a response to crime but also in a prevention part,” says Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto.
The other staggering number, reports of sexual assault have gone up 181 per cent.
“It is an area where we actually want to see better reporting,” says Manak. “There are so many services now that are in place in making sure that we’re supporting victims and survivors of crime.”
VicPD says that part of the dramatic increase is that more people are feeling comfortable reporting cases of sexual assault to the police.
“We’re finding that, yes. So having the numbers higher also does paint the picture that we are seeing more reporting,” says Manak.
Lingering effects of the pandemic have had implications on crime severity as well as the frequency of events that police have to respond to. With all that in mind Victoria’s overall letter grade has dropped from a B+ last year to a B.
“That tells you a little bit about the timing that we’re in. The last couple of years we were having some hope coming out of the pandemic,” Dyck said.