Investment in British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative (BCSPI) supports British Columbia small businesses, communities, and local workers through education, consulting, and support. The benefits will be felt as local government purchasing dollars are invested back into communities through the expansion of BCSPI.

Written by: Kristi Fairholm Mader

The former Coastal Communities Social Procurement Initiative was established in 2018 by and for local governments on Vancouver Island and in coastal communities. The Province is providing $500,000 to expand BCSPI through a one-time grant to the City of Victoria. The name was changed to British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative to reflect the expansion to other local governments and organizations in the province. The program encourages participating local governments and organizations to pool resources and gives them the tools and training to make smarter purchasing decisions that focus on best value rather than only the lowest price.

Over the two-year pilot period (2019-21), more than $200 million in public-sector spending on Vancouver Island and in coastal communities has been directed through a social procurement lens. The initiative is governed by a steering committee made up of elected officials and staff from local governments and organizations with services delivered by a partnership of four social procurement content and process experts: Scale Collaborative, Buy Social CanadaVancouver Island Construction Association, and Presentations Plus Training & Consulting Inc.

“The British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative has become the showcase for community collaboration leveraging shared resources to build resilient local economies, create local jobs, and provide opportunities for all the members of the community,” says David LePage, managing partner of Buy Social Canada.

The initiative supports a collaborative and community-focused approach to procuring equipment, supplies, and services for local governments in both small, rural communities and large, urban centres that is unique to each community’s needs. The program also opens up opportunities for community organizations and smaller local suppliers to better respond to contract opportunities.

“Social procurement is a new approach to economic development,” said Lisa Helps, mayor of the City of Victoria and co-chair of the British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative steering committee. “Public-sector spending represents a very large portion of Vancouver Island’s economy, and how we spend those funds matters. Social procurement enables public-sector entities to procure goods and services in line with the values of their communities and to the benefit of their local economies.”

The program uses a community-centred approach that aligns the process of purchasing goods and services with achieving greater community outcomes, making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to work with the government and benefit from the economic opportunities created through government contracts.

“Today’s announcement is significant to improving the health of our communities and the strength of our economies by enabling greatly expanded access across B.C. to the groundwork of British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative early learning, resources, tools, pilots and policies that are changing the culture of public-sector procurement,” says Colleen Evans, councillor, City of Campbell River and co-chair, British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative steering committee.

To find out more information about BCSPI, visit their website. Interested in learning more about the BCSPI and social procurement? Sign up for a learning session coming up on July 7th.