Vancity greens Dockside

Vancity is going beyond the extra mile to prove its commitment to the community.

Vancity is going beyond the extra mile to prove its commitment to the community.

The Vancouver-based credit union is a partner in developing a new socially responsible community, Dockside Green, in Victoria. The sustainable, mixed-use harbourfront development will include condos, affordable rental units and office space with priority given to non-profit businesses. Phase one opened this spring, with other elements set to roll out over the next seven years. Development began three years ago; when Vancity got on board, it knew it would be about a 10-year commitment.

‘We do much more than just finance things,’ says Detlef Beck, director of community investments for Vancity Enterprises (the company’s real estate division). ‘Acting on climate change, fighting poverty, growing the social economy and accountability are our key differentiators. Dockside represents a project where many aspects of the Vancity group come to play. Once you begin to align these things, it’s a very powerful business tool.’

Dockside’s eco-friendly features include energy-efficient appliances and lighting, toxin-free building materials and the ability to treat 100% of its sewage on-site to reuse as toilet and landscaping water.

A company-wide event on May 1 will educate Vancity employees about the Dockside project, to get them excited and to help spread the word to members. Beck says Vancity is still trying to figure out how to take the Dockside story even further. ‘It’s getting accolades here, there and everywhere – one of my challenges is grappling with how we leverage it,’ he says.

‘We’re investing members’ money, and we’re making a profit. So it really goes to show how triple bottom-line investments are good for the environment, our members and the community,’ says Beck. ‘It resonates on all our pillars of what Vancity is, and at the same time we can leverage it for our own business for mortgages and insurance products.’