Victoria Social Innovation Centre – a new model for Vancouver Island

Victoria Social Innovation Centre - a new model for Vancouver Island
Watch A number of non-profit organizations in Greater Victoria have a permanent home, thanks to the Victoria Social Innovation Centre

The Victoria Social Innovation Centre is a non-profit society that owns a building in Victoria to house other non-profit organizations.

David Lau is the Executive Director of the Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Society, which co-owns the building with Family Services of Greater Victoria.

“So the idea behind the Society,” says Lau, “is to provide administration supports and collaboration space for not-for-profit human service agencies in Victoria.”

“Collaboration essentially puts all of us together in the same area, where we can refer clients back and forth, and work on client cases together.”

Pam Rudy is with Family Services of Greater Victoria, the other non-profit which owns the building.

“We’ve been in existence for over 40 years,” says Rudy, “providing counselling services and legal information services, mainly when clients are dealing with losses…dealing with separation and divorce, but counselling can be for other issues as well.”

Rudy acknowledges the joy of having a permanent home for their organization, and others.

“It’s such a relief not to be under the direction of developers, or landlords,” says Rudy. “To have a space that’s more affordable, and also, getting families to come to a place that they’re not going to have to change addresses every once in a while.”

“[The building] addresses some of the major difficulties that non-profits in Victoria have,” says Lau. “Number one being the cost of rental accommodation, and also, a chance to work closely together, and provide intersectional solutions for problems that we both have different sorts of strengths on.”

The Oasis Society for Spiritual Health is one of the tenants in the building, at 1004 North Park Street.

“It’s like being with family” says Brianna Tealiye Dick, from the Oasis Society. “Being with family who cares for one another, reaches out to one another, sits down and chats.”

Lau says it’s exciting to look to the future of the building. “As the mortgage gets paid off, the money that used to go into a landlord’s bank account would go back into the Social Innovation Centre, so that they can continue to provide supports and values for our member organizations.”

Of course, there’s the inevitable challenges of owning your own property, Lau admits.

“So when it comes to the groundskeeping, and paying the water bill, and making sure the elevator works, we have to take on those costs and responsibilities. For example, we have a really beautiful air conditioning system” that’s just been delivered and is still in boxes, “but it’s our responsibility to try and find somebody to install it.”

But Lau agrees, those challenges are nothing to fret about when compared with the pride and joy of “home” ownership, and the ability to help other non-profits have a permanent home.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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