Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 21, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Capital Regional District / CRD was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2019):
- Capital Regional District provides new mothers maternity leave top-up payments (to 100% of salary for up to 17 weeks for most employees) and offers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence
- Along with investing in the development of its current workforce, Capital Regional District is committed to attracting the next generation of talent by hiring students into co-op and summer roles, as well as offering paid internships
- Capital Regional District's employee-run "The Glee Club" organizes a range of fun social activities throughout the year, including an annual family picnic, a charity golf tournament and a barbecue to celebrate Canada Day
Safety is key at the Capital Regional District
As a mechanical field supervisor with the Capital Regional District (CRD), Ron Tates has a vested interest in working safely, so he appreciates that his employer makes safety a priority.
"I live our safety culture every day," says Tates. "Many of our employees have children and I talk to them about walking down the aisle someday with both eyes and all their fingers and toes. It's expressed in conversation constantly and in a willingness to have conversations about why we're working safely, what it means to us personally and the value it adds to jobs."
The CRD is a diverse organization providing over 200 local government services to electoral areas and across jurisdictional boundaries on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. These services include the regional water supply, solid waste, wastewater treatment, regional parks, housing, emergency management and recreation facilities, just to name a few, so there are many different work sites in operation daily.
Rob Ingraham, manager corporate occupational health and safety, says while the CRD's culture of safety is driven by leadership, everybody plays a role, including supervisors, managers and employees.
"We try to provide our employees with a motivating and compelling vision of where we want to take the organization with a safety culture and why we care about it as individuals," says Ingraham. "We talk to our employees about the benefits of safety in every meeting and include safety moments. When we start our business day, we talk about safety first."
The CRD recently launched its "Don't Walk By" safety campaign, which encourages all employees to speak up if they see a safety concern or a hazardous condition or act. If they can't resolve it on their own, they can fill out a card and the CRD's health and safety committee follows up.
"We have a big board that says, 'This is the concern you raised, and this is what we did about it,'" says Ingraham. "It demonstrates to our employees that we're taking their safety concerns or suggestions seriously."
Chief administrative officer Robert Lapham believes the organizational approach is necessary when dealing with safety because you can't have different expectations in different work sites. You have to do that in a common way.
"Safety is an area at the very top of the organization," says Lapham. "The leadership has to demonstrate that we're sincere, concerned and passionate about safety so the rest of the workforce can understand that it's a priority. We expect people to be engaged and make it part of the culture."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 18, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Capital Regional District / CRD was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
- Capital Region District sets the green tone early by providing new employees with a reusable water bottle during their orientation (part of a disposable water bottle ban), native plant seeds and pencils made from recycled paper during the organization's career fair, and reusable dishes, cutlery, mugs and glasses in all its staff rooms
- Capital Region District hosts numerous educational workshops and programming for residents and businesses, including water audit and usage initiatives, programs to eliminate harmful pesticides, and the "Green365 Go Green at Home" campaign for residents, which addresses everything from waste management and water reduction to smart commuting -- the region also offers solar hot water system financial incentives for residents
B.C.'s Capital Regional District walks the walk
When Liz Ferris joined the climate action program at the Capital Regional District (CRD) as an auxiliary employee in 2013, she had a master's degree from the University of British Columbia in Resource Management and Environmental Studies and several years of experience in environmental affairs.
But even though she'd grown up in the region around Victoria, she didn't know a great deal about the CRD's inner workings or its approach to sustainability within the organization and in the region it serves.
"I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much sustainability was embedded in the CRD," says Ferris. "The more I got to know the organization, the more impressed I was."
She learned, for example, that the CRD's head office in Victoria is a LEED-certified building, designed and built using strategies and resources that conserve energy, reduce water consumption and operate with environmental responsibility and efficiency. The building is even designed to collect rainwater to flush the toilets.
Ferris also learned that, more than five years before she joined the CRD, it had set a target of reducing its operational greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, and that it was continuing to develop strategies to meet its target.
"Our focus on 'Making a difference together', our tag line, defines how we will achieve our vision to achieve exemplary environmental stewardship," says Bob Lapham, the CRD's Chief Administrative Officer.
As the regional government for 13 municipalities and three electoral areas on southern Vancouver Island and the nearby Gulf Islands, the CRD serves more than 383,000 citizens, and the impact of its green initiatives extends far beyond the organization itself. Just one example: through the provision of environmental education on topics ranging from water conservation, to recycling to native plants, the CRD helps residents protect the local environment and natural resources.
With a skilled workforce of more than 1,000 full- and part-time employees, the CRD works with service contractors and a network of more than 1,600 registered volunteers, making it a significant employer in the region. It maintains direct relationships with individuals, businesses, organizations and institutions that access regional utilities and services and with communities that collaborate for regional services on behalf of their residents.
In addition, the CRD owns and operates the Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC), a non-profit provider of more than 1,200 affordable rental units in the region, and administers the Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD).
"People come to work at the CRD to make a difference," says Lapham, "to expand their knowledge and awareness of their professional practice or basic working skills and to put them into use and applications across the wide variety of services and functions we provide to our region and communities."
For Ferris, the CRD's Climate Action Analyst, that means finding opportunities to reduce the CRD's environmental footprint while working with the community on a climate action program to support businesses and residents in the region in preparing for climate change.
"We have an environmental protection mandate," says Lapham, "that includes compliance with discharge and storm-water regulations and a strong emphasis on conservation."
Within the CRD, Ferris says, buildings and infrastructure account for about 48 per cent of emissions, while 52 per cent come from the CRD's vehicles.
"At the same time as we reduce our emissions, we try to identify opportunities to reduce operational costs," Ferris says.
A recent upgrade at the CRD to LED lighting, for example, will reduce energy consumption by 44 per cent and repay its cost in energy savings after five years.
Says Ferris: "We walk the walk."