Wednesday March 10, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Working closer to home is now a reality for BC Public Service employees who live in the west shore of the Greater Victoria area on south Vancouver Island.
The opening of the new Westhills ShareSpace — a modern, spacious and flexible co-working office — was officially announced last month on February 18, just over one year following the initial pilot project announcement made on-site at 1311 Lakepoint Way in Langford in November 2019.
Construction and fitting with computer systems and furnishings continued through the pandemic year of 2020.
Moving-in began on Monday February 22.
Premier Horgan proud of the initiative:
“Today, we’re opening the door to a new way of working for the BC Public Service,” said Premier John Horgan. “Having the option to work and collaborate in a bright, open and innovative workspace near home will be a game changer for many people — giving them more time with their families, cutting commute times and helping reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Premier Horgan was joined by Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development and MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, to celebrate the official opening of the office. The event included a tour of the office to see some of the unique design features and learn more about the new co-working space.
“We’re using technology and innovation to change the way we live and work,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “The new office model will help us keep pace with a growing mobile workforce, support collaboration and shared ideas in the BC Public Service and give people the flexibility they need and want.”
Over 2,000 employees in the west shore:
Over 2,000 B.C. government employees — more than 20% of the BC Public Service employees who work in Greater Victoria — live in the Westshore area which includes Langford, Colwood, Highlands, Metchosin and Sooke.
Many have long advocated for an office space close to home due to the time and money they spend commuting each day. The new office will help ease commute times and support government’s goal to lower greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants by reducing congestion and traffic idling.
the space is designed to promote collaboration, community and innovation.
“This is an exciting day for many people living in the Westshore,” Dean said. “Commuting to Victoria for work takes precious time away from our families and creates harmful emissions. This beautiful office will give people the flexibility they need to balance their home and work lives and reduce environmental impacts,” she said in a news release.
Reduced occupancy during COVID:
During COVID-19, the occupancy of the office has been reduced from 100 to 50 people to ensure physical distancing and worker safety. A COVID-19 safety plan including behavioural and wayfinding signage is in place, per the direction and orders of the provincial health officer and WorkSafeBC.
“I’m so excited for this space to open, as it’ll make a huge difference on my commute time to work and will allow me to spend more time with my family,” said Su-Mei MacDonnell, B.C. government employee and Colwood resident. “Having the choice and flexibility to be able to work at this ShareSpace location is fantastic.”
On average, a person commuting from the Westshore to downtown Victoria spends about one hour a day on the road; this is one of the factors behind the McKenzie Interchange project on Highway 1 which (completed late last year) now reduces about 20 to 30 minutes from people’s travel time between the west shore and downtown core employment areas.
People who travel on Highway 14 (from Sooke and Metchosin) to reach downtown have had even longer commutes.
Modern and green:
The more than 930 square-metre (10,000 sq ft) office space is modern, green and fully accessible. It includes a mix of co-working and private rooms, natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor patio and workspace with views of Langford Lake.
Innovative office technology is used throughout, such as interactive room and desk-booking apps, digital signage and audio-visual meeting systems. It also has electric-vehicle charging stations, bike storage, day-use lockers and showers that promote active and green transportation options.
With brightly coloured felt pendant lighting, exposed natural B.C. wood elements, textured graphic and interactive walls, the space aims to inspire creativity and provide a collaborative, healthy and positive work environment.
There is LED lighting. Adjustable computer screens can be tilted, rotated, and moved up/down and forward/backward to reduce eye strain and encourage healthy postures.
All collaboration areas can accommodate wheelchairs or scooters. Kitchen and break spaces are designed to support people of all abilities. The washrooms are universal, with shower facilities.
Welcome in Langford:
“This is an exciting day for Langford and employees of the provincial government who live in the Westshore,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young as part of the news announcement.
“For over 25 years, I have been advocating for government offices in Langford,” said Young.
“My hope is this office will be the first of many. Having this hub in Langford will allow residents to work close to home, get out of traffic, and spend more time with their families, creating a better work/life balance,” said Langford’s longtime mayor in the BC Government’s news release.
Since the initial building announcement in 2019 the immediate area has been further built up with commercial development including a Tim Hortons, and more residential housing in the surrounding Westhills area (a project with a 25-year build out that started in 2008).