A Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey of 125 Canadian municipalities finds Greater Victoria in 66th spot on the City Entrepreneurial Index.
First published a decade ago, the survey draws on 13 “entrepreneurship indicators” grouped into three categories (presence, perspective and policy) to look at the “entrepreneurial characteristics” of Canadian cities.
Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and Chief Economist, and Andreea Bourgeois, CFIB’s senior analyst, said in the report’s introduction that the report tries to capture the “dynamism of each community,” then place it on a measurable scale.
“Although we produce city rankings, we are not trying to define a singular concept of entrepreneurship or success,” they write. “Instead, we are trying to identify the relative entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses of cities across the full range of measures. No city is strong across all elements, but each has at least one relative set of strengths.”
One of Victoria’s strengths is the category of entrepreneurial presence, or diversity, with Victoria ranking 9th among major cities surveyed. The City of Vancouver and its periphery tied for first place, followed by the City of Toronto and its periphery. Kelowna finished in the fifth place, followed by the City of Montreal and its periphery. Quebec’s Gatineau (8th) and Ontario’s Belleville (10th) round out the Top 10.
“These diverse economies have lots of business start-ups and show above-average businesses per capita because of the wide range of opportunities large markets generate,” it reads.
Local entrepreneurs also appear to be generally supportive of local economic policy, according to the CFBI’s Business Barometer Index, as Victoria scores 68.2 out of 100. (The higher the level of business confidence, the better a municipality is at creating conditions for business growth in the area, according to CFBI).
“It’s actually pretty good,” said Mallet in an interview.
Mallet though also said that the region’s ratio of commercial versus residential taxes still remains high at 3.61. (Broadly translated, it means that commercial property owners pay $3.61 in municipal taxes for every dollar by residential property owners. Mallet said this ratio can be “problematic” for the region.
Catherine Holt, executive director of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, welcomes the survey, but warns against reading too much into its findings.
“We know Greater Victoria is a great place for entrepreneurs, and we’re not surprised the region scores highly for entrepreneurial presence,” she said. “We also know our region has work to do to ensure businesses pay a more equitable share of municipal property taxes.”
But she added that this report “needs to be taken with a grain of salt” because it attempts to quantify its results with subjective data.
“Lists are easy to digest, but add a few points here or there and Greater Victoria would rank much higher,” she said. “As the largest organization representing businesses in our region, we know entrepreneurs would be reluctant to leave given the option to move to any other city to work, live and play.”
The report did not break Greater Victoria into its individual municipalities because of methodological constraints.