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Comment: UVic is a major part of Greater Victoria

A commentary by the president and vice-chancellor of the University of Victoria.
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Sun shines through trees above the fountain near UVic's McPherson Library. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Strong partners make a big impact. That is a motto for us at the University of Victoria, and now the latest numbers have been tallied on UVic’s economic impact in Greater Victoria and B.C.

With an independent report recently completed, we know that the combined activities of the region and our university provide $3.3 billion provincially, and $1.8 billion in added income to the Greater Victoria economy.

One in nine jobs in our region is supported by UVic activities. For every dollar invested in UVic’s work, the B.C. public gains $2.70 in added tax revenue and public sector savings.

Those are numbers to be proud of. But all that impact happens on a foundation of so many amazing partnerships — in this region, around B.C. and beyond. UVic’s significant role in our regional and provincial economies couldn’t happen without those vital partnerships and community connections.

The impact is well beyond economic.

Here’s an obvious area of importance to UVic and the region: Housing. UVic brings thousands of students and visitors in and out of the area — annually, that generates $171 million regionally and another $183 million provincially just from student and visitor spending.

We feel the weight of our role at the university around the critical need to create more affordable and accessible housing in our region, and we’re building nearly 400 new student residences for the fall, with another 220 to open next year. This brings our on-campus beds to 2,500 this year — our highest ever.

But finding housing for all 22,000 UVic students requires support of legions of local landlords and housing providers who we count on as community partners. UVic’s economic impact is directly related to the people in our community who make sure our nearly 30,000 students, staff and faculty have a place to live.

UVic is essentially a small town in terms of our campus population on any given day. So there’s a lot going on all the time, adding half a billion dollars to the regional economy and another $415 million provincially every year from operations and construction spending.

That impact translates as jobs and customers for our partners in community, and as a future skilled workforce. At UVic, we in turn benefit from tremendous human resources from the community, and all the community services that ensure a citizen’s well-being.

Together, we have a major impact.

Another obvious example: Climate change. It’s an impossible topic to avoid thinking about these days, with all the headlines bringing us news of flooding, drought, wildfire, heat domes and wind extremes around the globe.

Together, UVic and our community partners build the knowledge and research that will help us see what’s coming, slow down what we can, and prepare for a changed climate.

Total research spending and spinoffs at UVic contribute almost half a billion dollars every year to the regional and provincial economies.

UVic counts on research investments, resource access, and professional engagement with experts on the ground. We count on curious and engaged students coming through our doors ready to develop into a new generation of highly skilled graduates and researchers with skills specific to these changing times.

Together, we have real impact.

Canada is a destination for brilliant minds. UVic was welcoming nearly 4,000 international students a year before the COVID pandemic, almost all of them relocating to Greater Victoria for their studies.

Collectively, they spent more than $32 million a year at local businesses. And while we can’t put a number on the current impact of having a role in the development of so many burgeoning problem-solvers and big thinkers from all over the world, we’re guessing it would be even more impressive.

UVic has impact because we have an impactful community around us. We are in this together. There is so much more we can do. We couldn’t be an economic driver without you.

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