An Open Letter to the South Island Prosperity Partnership

March 18, 2024

An Open Letter to the South Island Prosperity Partnership by Sasha Izard
March 18, 2024

Hello South Island Prosperity Partnership,

A 2022 Saanich Financial Report carried out by KPMG stated: “Total debt is projected to increase from $52 million in 2022 to $263 million in 2031, representing an average increase of 41% per year.” This figure has now ballooned to $424 million in 2033.

A recent Times Colonist article has the title: "Early budgeting in Saanich a 'shocker,' signals possible big tax jump"

In the article, a councillor is quoted as saying that “there are a lot of pressures on the budget including a growing population and more demand for municipal services in an inflationary environment."

In other words, the so-called growth your organization has been pushing has also been causing Saanich taxes to increase above the rate of the already staggering level of inflation. This will in turn lead to residents being squeezed out by high prices. The tax burden on Saanich is growing and the district is clearly not prospering, as the state of its finances and rapidly increasing debt levels reveals.

From your organization’s inception in 2016, thanks to municipal and continued municipal funding, which makes up the bulk of its revenues; the municipality of Saanich alone has paid you well over 1.25 million dollars.

What have the Saanich taxpayers received in return for all that money?

On their last annual payment, the City of Victoria paid SIPP $224,436. What has the City of Victoria’s taxpayers received in return for years of payments?

What have the other municipalities that are paying members of SIPP received in return for years of payments?

What have SIPP’s goals and targets been in 2016 and onward?

I have seen a lot of public relations material and lofty calls for growth generation, but few specifics.

I did notice one specific though in your 3-year target: “+$5M Federal, Provincial, Municipal and Private Sector investment into SIPP and SIPP-led and SIPP- supported projects.”

Please list the specifics of what SIPP hopes to achieve other than more public and private sector investment in SIPP and its offshoots.

1. Has SIPP accomplished those goals?

2. What are the timelines for those goals?

3. Has and does SIPP have a serious plan to achieve them?

4. I understand that SIPP recently created COAST and the IPC and that significant government funds are headed in those directions. Does SIPP need to remain a middle organization?

5. SIPP’s membership includes an international lobby for many of the biggest fossil fuel companies in North America, if not the world, known as the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, which has a so-called Energy Institute. How does SIPP reconcile that with its oft claimed dedication to climate protection?

6. Will COAST’s activities, including R&D, in any way help to facilitate future offshore oil and gas exploration/extraction and/or global shipping of oil, gas and/or forestry products?

7. SIPP’s membership also includes a number of big banks and SIPP says that it promotes increasing investment. How does it recognize global finance’s role in financing operations that contribute to the increasingly dire climate situation?

8. Among its membership is the UDI development and real estate lobby, which primarily promotes market-rate housing that is unaffordable. How does SIPP reconcile that and with its calls for more international investment and with its calls for housing affordability in the region? The housing prices have skyrocketed in Victoria since SIPP’s inception.

The costs to maintain SIPP have grown rapidly since then.

According to SIPP’s 2022-2023 “Rising to Resilience” report, the salaries and benefits to personnel are: $588,709. Add travel and accommodation ($23,000) to that figure and these combined expenses are more than half of the total Annual Budget for the organization and almost equivalent to the total amount the municipalities of the CRD pay in membership fees to SIPP each year. In 2022 alone this municipal membership fee total amounted to $632,714.

9. How many employees (full and part-time) did SIPP have in 2022? How many employees (full and part-time) does it have now at the time of writing (September 16, 2023)?

A June 22, 2023 article in the Times Colonist was titled: “On the Street: South Island Prosperity Partnership expands”.

In elaborating on the organization’s expansion, the article provides the following quote:

““We also added three executive directors and doubled our staff to steer that expansion and take advantage of new opportunities for the South Island region.”

10. Does this seem appropriate given how reliant SIPP is on municipal funding, given that we are in an inflationary environment, where taxes keep rising above that already excessive level of inflation?

I think the taxpayer deserves a thorough answer with specifics, rather than PR.

Thank you, I look forward to your answers,

Sasha Izard

Get Involved

Are you passionate about keeping Saanich safe, family-friendly and sustainable?
We need community members who share our vision and want to help co-create a long-term path to health, wellness and environmental sustainability.