Cumberland is targeting shopping local as its top area on the road to recovery.
At the Oct. 13 regular meeting, council weighed some of the options from a report from the Comox Valley Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF), a body initiated by the regional district to set out recovery measures for the local economy.
The ERTF identified six pillars for economic recovery based on submissions to the task force: shopping local/ supporting arts and culture; agriculture and food security; technology and digital support for businesses, child care; transportation and regional connectivity; and streamlining permit processes for businesses.
“I’m very pleased with the work that the task force has done to date,” Mayor Leslie Baird told council.
The mayor said she surveyed some of the downtown businesses in the community to get a sense of their priorities.
“The vast majority of them wanted ‘shop local.’ They felt that was very, very important,” she said, adding some view ‘local’ as specifically the Comox Valley while many see it as including Vancouver Island as a whole.
As far as other priorities like technology support, for some it is a priority, while others have already incorporated this into their business. Baird suggested sending the topic to a community of the whole meeting for further discussion.
Later in the council meeting, council also identified its potential projects for provincial Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) grant funding. The two council and staff are targetting for funding are water servicing for the Bevan Lands industrial land development to a maximum of $500,000 and upgrade work at Cumberland Lake Park up to $200,000. They listed a third option as a back-up choice to the Bevan project, which would be to upgrade facilities at City Park.
“These are projects that we could easily get off the ground,” economic development officer Kaelin Chambers told council.
For Bevan Road, the plan is to provide infrastructure – for example, a water line – for the planned industrial land. Village staff are currently reviewing a subdivision application that would establish the first parcel at the site. At present, the developer will put in the water line. The grant funding could help move along the process and also mean the Village would not have to pay back its full cost of the water line.
“It allows us to get some economic benefits a little bit quicker,” Chambers said.
Funding for Cumberland Lake Park could cover work on the boat launch and retaining walls around the waterfront, safety upgrades in the swimming areas, along with signs and other parking improvements.
The backup project grant at Village Park, for approximately $150,000, would focus on washrooms, parking, signs and other infrastructure such as picnic tables and bike racks.
The Village has to apply to CERIP quickly, and if successful, funding will be provided by March 31, 2021.
“The timeline is extremely tight,” chief administrative officer Clayton Postings said. “We have to have an application submitted by the end of October.”
The work must start by the end of next year and finish by March 31, 2023.