Economists, the old joke goes, are just like accountants but without the personality. One of the most notable economists of all time was a fellow named John Maynard Keynes. Keynes is famous because of two economic theories he developed. The first was the idea of government deficits, which is why your taxes seem so high. The second was the modern multiplier impact theory. Keynes recognized that money spent in a local economy was then spent and re-spent creating further wealth in that local economy. Kind of like the ripples on a pond when you throw a stone in the water. Keynes argued that all individuals, businesses, governments and institutions create wealth this way.
“So what,” you say, “How does this have any relevance to the Saanich Peninsula?” Well, far from being the bucolic playground the region has a reputation for, the Saanich Peninsula is home to a diverse range of industries from tourism to retail to manufacturing to aviation, to agriculture to advanced technology all paying taxes, hiring you and your neighbours and generally doing exactly what Keynes suggested. Creating wealth. But it is not just businesses that do this and on the Peninsula. We are fortunate to have three organizations that create wealth for the community.
SHAW OCEAN DISCOVERY CENTRE
What “business” on the Peninsula has seen almost three hundred thousand “customers” walk through its doors since it opened a short three years ago, generate one million dollars in revenue each year and have seventeen thousand customers loyal enough to buy annual passes. The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is that “business”. And they do that with just nine full time staff, six part-time employees and one hundred and forty “Oceaneers”; volunteers to the rest of us. Angus Mathews, Executive Director of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is rightly proud of the Centre’s accomplishments. “Since we opened we have had to operate in a declining tourist industry and each year our visitor numbers grow” he notes”. “Our main markets are young families and grandparents with their grandchildren. We know that most tourists are not strangers; they are usually friends and family of local residents.” The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is now the third largest tourist attraction in the Greater Victoria Region following the Butchart Gardens and The Royal BC Museum. A true jewel of the sea.
PANORAMA RECREATION CENTRE
As you sit at the top of the water slide at the Panorama Recreation Centre watching little kids go laughing down the chute while your heart is going a mile a minute in trepidation it is good to know that of the two hundred and twenty employees that work at Panorama many of them are lifeguards. Many of those employees are part-time working not only as life-guards but in reception, teaching skating, swimming, aerobics. Most importantly they are, for the most part, the sons and daughters of your neighbours working locally. The Rec Centre, as it is fondly known, has over a half a million users every year. That turns out to be thirteen visits a year for every resident of the Peninsula. With an annual operation budget of $7.5 million a year the Rec Centre is a major economic driver on the Peninsula. Ian Hennigar, the Senior Manager of the Rec Centre, points out that “Panorama generates about half of its operating budget from user revenues and we have the highest user rate of recreation centres in the Province.”
There is always something going on at the Rec Centre. Hennigar notes that among all the activities available at the Rec Centre sports leagues and kids programs seen to take centre stage. “We have 51 hockey teams and 46 lacrosse teams that play here.” They have to buy their equipment somewhere and most buy locally. But even better he says “are the kids programs. For example every Grade 3 student in School District #63 went through a water safety program at the Rec Centre.”
SAANICH PENINSULA HOSPITAL FOUNDATION
Fund raising is a tough job. Always asking people to help out and hand out. But at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital it seems to be pretty easy. In the last fiscal year the Hospital’s Foundation arm raised $2.8 million to be put toward operating room equipment, a new chapel and operating room construction. That money was largely raised on the Peninsula and much of it was spent within the Peninsula. One in eight adults on the Peninsula supported the hospital financially. It would be hard to imagine no hospital on the Saanich Peninsula. It is clearly a needed community resource and the community supports it wholeheartedly.
Karen Morgan the Executive Director of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation and the wizard of fund raising says “we work hard to support the community that supports us. Our fundraisers are helping local businesses like Muse Winery or Church and State Wines and we work in partnership with them.”
The hospital is a major employer in the region with about 400 employees ranging from specialist doctors to cleaning staff.