Social innovation in action

An open house June 20 at the new Victoria Social Innovation Centre provided a welcome glimpse of social policy planning at the community level.

Three Greater Victoria community non-profits have now moved into shared space in a 14,000-square-foot building that will remain a home for such non-profits long into the future. More local non-profits who also find a fit in the cheerful space will likely be moving in soon.

Local women relax in the shared space at the Victoria Social Innovation Centre.

The building was bought in the name of the Victoria Social Innovation Centre and is currently housing Board Voice members Family Services of Greater Victoria and the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, as well as providing a kitchen and meeting room for weekly activities of the Oasis Society for Spiritual Health. A large computer lab that VIRCS will use to help its clients prepare for the citizenship test can also be rented by other non-profit groups for training purposes.

Nailing down the details and renovating the shared space for the three organizations was a two-year process, says FSGV outgoing executive director Bruce McGuigan, who helped guide that lengthy and collaborative process. The agencies drew on financial support from diverse government and community sources.

Still being built in the renovated space that was once used by the Multiple Sclerosis Society is a large daycare, which will not only be resourced for children suffering from trauma but is also slated to become the first daycare in BC with hours to accommodate shift-working parents.

The clients of VIRCS and FSGV share a number of similar needs, and will benefit from having multiple services available in the same site. There’s room for more non-profits to join them in the future, and a local theatre company is already exploring synergies.

Here’s a story by VIRCS executive director David Lai on how the new social innovation hub happened.