British Columbia

B.C. government workers in Westshore get office space closer to home

About 2,000 public service employees live in the Westshore area and have long-advocated for a local office space that would reduce the time and money they spend commuting to Victoria.

About 2,000 public service employees from the region commute to Victoria for work

The Westhills ShareSpace opens Monday in Langford, B.C., as a place where public service employees in any B.C. ministry can work so they don't have to commute to Victoria. (Province of British Columbia)

More than 2,000 people who work for the B.C. public service regularly commute to Victoria from surrounding communities, according to the province. But starting Monday, many will have the option of skipping the longer commute. 

While the pandemic means the majority of this group are working from home at the moment, the B.C. government has built a new shared work space on the Westshore — an area that includes the municipalities of Colwood, Langford, Highlands, View Royal and Metchosin — where up to 100 people at a time will be able to occupy a desk rather than driving downtown.

In a news release, the province said the more than 930-square-metre office space, which opens Monday, includes a mix of co-working and private rooms, innovative office technology, natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor patio, electric-vehicle charging stations, bike storage and showers.

Located at 1311 Lakepoint Way in Langford, the Westhills ShareSpace office has rooms and desks that will be able to be booked using an app.

Premier John Horgan, left, tours the 930-square-metre office space on Thursday. (Province of British Columbia)

Su-Mei MacDonnell, a B.C. government employee and Colwood resident, said she is excited about how much time she will regain by using the new office.

"[It] will allow me to spend more time with my family ... having the choice and flexibility to be able to work at this ShareSpace location is fantastic," MacDonnell said in a statement.

According to the province, a person commuting from the Westshore to downtown Victoria spends about an hour a day on the road.

Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said the new facility is a good development for people living on the Westshore and has been in the works since 2019.

He did, however, tell CBC's On The Island he might have some concerns if, in the future, similar facilities pop up that significantly reduce the number of people downtown during the week.

"The workers downtown are a huge part of that downtown economy," said Williams, noting they drive retail and hospitality in the region.

Langford Mayor Stew Young said he has been advocating for government offices in Langford for 25 years.

"My hope is this office will be the first of many," Young said in a statement. "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."

Due to COVID-19, the occupancy of the office has been reduced to 50 people from 100 to ensure physical distancing and worker safety.

With files from On The Island

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