30 years of collaborative research in Victoria, BC. 


Our work

Below is a timeline of VIPIRG's work since 1988 as BCPIRG and since 1989 as VIPIRG. We use the power of research to draw attention to a community-identified need. We do our research with the hope of changing public policy in order to make life better for UVic students and residents of Victoria.  

We also connect groups that don’t have research capacity with student researchers and VIPIRG staff who can help get the work done.  


  • VIPIRG hosted two successful workshops on student housing, targeted towards students who are first time renters.

  • We published a report on the use of ibogaine to treat substance dependence in BC.

  • Our research team launched Inversions, a peer-reviewed student journal.

  • To help students take charge of their finances, VIPIRG hosted a workshop on financial literacy with speakers from RBC Shelbourne, and a talk on investing in Bitcoin.

  • Our third annual conference was attended by over 300 people. Our special guest was two time Juno award winning band, A Tribe Called Red.  


  • Our annual conference was a great success. It featured 5 uvic professors, 14 student speakers, and 185 attendees. Read the post-conference report.

  • Over the summer, we worked on a qualitative research project on Student Housing, which will be launched in October 2017.

  • We launched a writing contest, that will award $700, $500, and $300 to UVic students each semester.

  • We're currently working on research in the following areas: recycling, harm reduction, and student food.

  • Established a scholarship program. Two UVic students will be awarded $1000 each.

  • We expanded our partnership with the UVic Campus Community Garden and launched a composting program, which will distribute free compost and seeds to UVic students, to encourage them to grow their own food.

  • Launched a textbook initiative for UVic students, to cater to the rising costs of higher education.


  • This research was developed in response to an increase in immigrants and refugees in the Victoria area due to an increase in international students, and resettled refugees in Canada, mostly from Syria. According to Statistics Canada, racialized individuals are the largest group affected by food insecurity. Over a quarter respondents strongly agreed that there are challenges accessing cultural-specific foods and ingredients.

  • Our research report showed that Retail, food service, and hospitality workers face precarious working conditions: They face job instability and insecurity; earn low wages; often don’t receive benefits like paid sick days, vacation, or health benefits; are typically not unionized; have minimal control over their work conditions; and face poor treatment by their employers.

  • We organized a conference featuring NY Times best selling author, Janet Mock.


  • The purpose of this research was to explore how experiences of self-identified mental health problems and disabilities intersect with broader systemic issues in the community of Victoria, BC (Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories).

  • Over 33,000 in grants given out in our 2015-2016 fiscal year.


The research in this report showed that Victoria does not have a low-income housing market. This research was conducted to understand the low-income end of the market housing spectrum in Victoria. 

The low end of the market housing spectrum in Victoria is poorly understood. Unlike in Vancouver, where the Carnegie Community Action Project has been producing an annual report on the housing crisis, no similar report exists in Victoria. The data presented here attempts to respond to this need and to help community-based organizing efforts around housing issues.


  • Advocacy work on the Beautification of Pandora Green

  • Released "Primers on Power" series. On Colonialism, On Patriarchy, On Capitalism.


This study set out to explore the social costs of policing poverty by documenting the experiences and perspectives of members of the Victoria street community with regards to policing in Victoria, BC.  Click to read the executive summary and full report. 

Cuts to health services and income supports for people living in poverty, including those with disabilities involving mental health and illicit drug use, have contributed to a situation where police now act as de facto “first responders” to health-related issues on city streets. The costs of policing poverty are high, and are not limited to the financial costs of spending more on approaches that do not work. Research from Toronto and Vancouver.


VIPIRG's collaborative work led to the establishment of a recycling program at UVic. The pilot project setup recycling stations in Clearihue, McPherson Library, Cunningham, and the Student Union Building (Source - The Ring, Page 2, Sept 23 1988)

VIPIRG's collaborative work led to the establishment of a recycling program at UVic. The pilot project setup recycling stations in Clearihue, McPherson Library, Cunningham, and the Student Union Building (Source - The Ring, Page 2, Sept 23 1988)


VIPIRG released a report on poverty on the 900-block of Pandora Avenue. The block serves as a gathering place for many street-involved residents of Victoria. It is also one of the most controversial areas within the City. The idea for the Peoples’ Plan for Pandora emerged from community concerns that many of the city’s most vulnerable residents, who spend much of their time in an under-serviced area, were completely excluded from decisions that could deeply impact their lives.


The purpose of the Burnside Gorge Health Assessment (BGHA) was to capture a “snapshot” of the overall health and well-being of individuals visiting the Burnside Family Medical Clinic. The information gathered can be used to develop a deeper understanding of health and well-being in the neighbourhood, while serving as baseline data to analyze changes as the community grows. The findings will be disseminated to community groups, agencies, service providers and policymakers in order to enrich their efforts to meet the needs of the diverse populations they serve.


VIPIRG and the University of Victoria Sustainability Project (UVSP) undertook a large, year long project to measure the sustainability of our university. The tool being used for this project is the Campus Sustainability Assessment Framework (CSAF). The CSAF is a tool designed to assess indicators of university sustainability and provide a context for the institution to measure its current level of sustainability. 

2006 - 2008

  • In BC, 100,000 fewer people now receive welfare than when new legislation and polices were introduced in 2002. For a few years, VIPIRG did a lot of advocacy work on the subject. Related article, another here.

  • In June 2008, VIPIRG released 2 research reports called "The Rise and Fall of Welfare Time Limits in BC" and "Denied Assistance: Closing the front door of welfare in BC." Welfare time limits are considered the most dramatic of measures introduced in the name of welfare reform. The 2002 legislation was the first of its kind in Canadian history and was part of a wider program of punitive welfare reforms aimed at reducing the welfare budget and welfare caseloads by thirty percent.


  • Our ground-breaking report on the ecological footprint of plastic bags has been cited worldwide.

  • VIPIRG's research report revealed that the closure of the TimberWest sawmill at Youbou, B.C. had a highly disruptive and largely negative effect on the lives of the people who worked at the mill. Further, the study indicated that job training and placement programs in place to assist workers in adjusting to the mill closure and to finding new work were largely ineffectual and inadequate.

  • The British Columbia cruise ship industry is thought of as an integral part of the economy. VIPIRG released a report on the Economic Benefits and their Environmental Impacts.

  • A VIPIRG student produced a report outlining that egg production has a fairly large ecological footprint considering how simple eggs appear to be.

  • Advocacy work in support of detained Ethiopian students.


Advocacy work to remove two year time limits on healthcare. The Employment and Assistance Act and its companion the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities were passed in June 2002 by the Liberal government in B.C. Total benefits were cut by as much as 40% per month, including a 100% claw back of all employment earnings and child support, unless deemed disabled. Related articles here, here, and here




  • The Capital Region of Victoria, British Columbia, has one of the highest rent housing markets and lowest vacancy rates in Canada. This report was a study of whether shared housing is a viable means by which people in poverty can improve their living circumstances.

  • Our 2003 report put cruise ships on the map as a local environmental issue. Just as this report was being completed, the media was reporting that the Norwegian Sun had dumped raw sewage into Juan de Fuca Strait. En route to Victoria’s Ogden Point, the Norwegian Sun dumped 62,000 litres of raw sewage into waters just southeast of Victoria, near Port Townsend. Related article.

  • A VIPIRG student undertook a research project to examine how accessible gender-based social and health-related services were for transgender individuals in the Victoria region.

  • With transit services being cut, and fare increases being threatened, VIPIRG lobbied the Greater Victoria Transportation Commission. This report was cited widely, including by Transport Canada.


VIPIRG students completed a research project on the impacts of welfare cuts on simple mothers living in Victoria. At the time, the Liberal Government of British Columbia is in the process of instituting massive cuts to welfare, including reducing support payments to single parent families, cutting transit, forcing people with disabilities to look for work, and threatening single parents of children over age three with further cuts if they are unable to find employment.


VIPIRG began this project with the goal of inspiring community action towards improving the access to dental care for people living in poverty. VIPIRG's Research Report "Towards A Community Dental Clinic" was the basis of the establishment of a Community Dental Clinic.   

In 2001, there were few population health statistics collected to measure the oral health status of adults living in the capital region, specifically for homeless residents. Rev Allan. Tysick of The Open Door (now known as Our Place Society) reports that 95% of clients required immediate dental care. "I think poor dental health is one reason why many diseases are spread among the downtown population"


In support of peace around the world, VIPIRG organized the campaign that kicked NATO out of town. 


  • 1993: VIPIRG established a native plant garden and supported a community garden at UVic

  • 1988: successfully lobbied UVic to create a recycling program on campus


“An incredibly small but mighty research organization that has done some great projects that have led to direct change in Victoria.”

Marion selfridge |  DeCEMBER 2016