The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce appealed to the regional district to support a proposed Comox Valley Economic Collaborative.
Housed under the umbrella of the chamber, the CVEC’s mandate would be to promote the Valley as a place to conduct business, create collaboration, and support a vibrant, healthy and profitable economy.
“We believe that economic development is all of our responsibility,” Chamber CEO Dianne Hawkins said at the regional district board meeting May 11. “I believe that we can find collaborative solutions to develop our community in a sustainable, responsible way, and to invite discussion…This is a turning point in our community, an opportunity to do things differently. It’s a time now to build trust and work together as a community.”
The collaborative would aim to represent a diverse group of community stakeholders. Representatives from industry, tourism and other sectors would serve a one-year term with an option for a second year, and receive a modest, monthly honorarium. It would operate on a consensus-based decision model.
“It’s an opportunity for invested voices at the table, in terms of commitment and vision for the Valley,” Hawkins said.
The next steps are to secure support from the district to start the project, and to apply for additional funding. The chamber hopes to have an economic co-ordinator in place by Aug. 1, an Economic Collaborative established by Sept. 1, and an economic action plan in place by March 2022.
Hawkins said the chamber is considering it might need close to $100,000 from the CVRD to get started.
“I think this is the type of initiative that holds a lot of promise as we move through the recovery,” Area A director Daniel Arbour said.
District CAO Russell Dyson said it’s a “little aggressive” in terms of the CVRD’s ability to provide funds by August. However, he said a report with options can be provided.
Later in the meeting, Dyson announced that Lisa Kilpatrick has been hired for a two-year contract as the CVRD’s Economic Recovery and Community Resilience Co-ordinator. Between now and December, she will assist with the economic development function, which includes the termination of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society contract.