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, The / 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 (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Capital Regional District, The / CRD was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- As part of its formal Climate Action Strategy, Capital Regional District hosts a variety of workshops and programs for residents and businesses, addressing everything from watershed management to pesticide use to smart commuting habits -- and also reaches out to the next generation through a dedicated school support program which includes programming and resources for educators and students in the region, from kindergarten to grade 12
- Along with managing numerous environmental initiatives across the region, Capital Region District employees "walk the green talk" every day through a variety of actions including a disposable water bottle ban (new employees receive a reusable water bottle as part of their orientation), green catering for all events, use of reusable dishes, cutlery, mugs and glasses in staff rooms (employees bring their own dishes and cutlery to staff barbecues and potlucks), and a formal Take the Stairs campaign to encourage reduced elevator use
- Capital Region District and its employees are responsible for more than 13,000 hectares of natural areas, including 31 regional parks and three trail systems on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands
B.C.'s Capital Regional District rolls out e-bikes
When Kevin Barnard pulls up to a business on an e-bike for a meeting or to conduct inspections, it usually sparks positive conversations about what the Capital Regional District (CRD) in B.C. is doing to combat climate change.
"People inquire about CRD's climate change and greenhouse gas initiatives, what our fleet policy is and why I'm riding an e-bike," says Barnard. "As an Environmental Science Officer, it helps show our organizational commitment to environmentally friendly vehicles. It's definitely promoting awareness."
Barnard is a strong proponent for e-bikes, currently being tested as a pilot project by the CRD, as a way to help fulfill the organization's greenhouse gas emissions target. He also believes there are efficiencies to be gained by having e-bikes as part of the fleet. For example, he finds it's quite efficient for covering his territory because he doesn't get stuck in traffic and has absolutely no parking issues.
"There's also something about just being able to hop on one of the bike trails and travel to your destination," says Barnard. "It's much more scenic, you get some exercise and fresh air, and you're probably getting there ahead of schedule if you're in Victoria's downtown core."
The CRD is a diverse organization providing more than 200 local government services to electoral areas and across jurisdictional boundaries on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Services include the regional water supply, solid waste, wastewater treatment, regional parks, housing, emergency management, recreation facilities and more. Additionally, the CRD Climate Action Program, launched in 2009, works with local governments across the region to support community-wide and corporate climate action initiatives.
Barnard says the biggest selling points for trying the e-bikes were the cost to purchase and cost to use, as well as the optics. The health and well-being factor was also considered as part of the cost-benefit analysis.
"It's fun, too," says Barnard. "It changes the experience if you need to travel outside of the office. Plus, other than having to plug it in to charge the battery, there are no emissions, so we're definitely contributing to the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions target that we're trying to meet."
CRD's corporate operations have been carbon neutral since 2012 and the organization has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from operations to 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020.
"It was our zero-emissions fleet initiative that drove us into e-bikes," explains Bob Lapham, Chief Administrative Officer of CRD. "E-bikes are part of an overall approach to looking at different options in transportation. Introducing e-bikes is just one alternative way to move staff around the region."
To track and monitor the use and effectiveness of e-bikes against some transportation metrics, the CRD has partnered with researchers at the Institute of Integrated Energy Systems at the University of Victoria.
"We have results in terms of distance travelled, usage and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," says Lapham. "Each bike that replaces an internal combustion vehicle will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent."
Lapham says the response from CRD's staff has been enthusiastic, with people requesting the initial training. The organization already makes it convenient for people to bike to work by providing bike lockers, showers and a secure place to hang up their gear. Having those facilities in place is important to get people biking.
"We want to make the e-bikes as visible as possible," says Lapham. "This may be a small part of our overall fleet requirements, but every aspect counts. If we can include something that's an alternative to carbon fuels, it sends a strong message to the community that we're making significant efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions."