New plans to support shifting economic landscape, reconciliation, and sustainability
COURTENAY, 15 November 2023 – The Municipality of North Cowichan and Economic Development Cowichan are pursuing a new economic development action plan and economic development strategy, respectively, through two project investments from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Investment Readiness Program.
Both projects come on the heels of a shifting economic landscape in the region that is setting new priorities for socially and environmentally responsible community economic development that places focus on economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, while also promoting equity, and responding to climate change.
“We are grateful for this support from Island Coastal Economic Trust to help us develop our own economic development action plan, one that will encourage more high-quality and high-paying jobs, support a diverse range of sustainable businesses, provide a solid tax base, and benefit all residents,” says North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas. “I look forward to working with our local partners and stakeholders over the coming months, and drawing upon their input to build an action plan that will strengthen our already thriving local economy.”
“This is a critical moment for us as we face a declining forestry sector and the need to invest in other sectors of the economy,” says George Farkas, General Manager of Planning, Development and Community Services. “The Municipality’s new action plan, which comes out of our 2022 Official Community Plan and the establishment of an economic development committee, will offer a clear opportunity to act strategically in creating the investment conditions to deliver the economic impact we desire.”
The North Cowichan strategy aligns local initiatives with regional objectives and will help create a roadmap to implement strategies supporting economic opportunities. This includes maximizing the contribution that North Cowichan’s industrial lands can make toward green investment and job creation. The project will also direct attention to areas of greatest impact and increase North Cowichan’s capacity to respond to the needs of the community while delivering economic, social, and environmental benefits.
Alongside North Cowichan’s action plan, Economic Development Cowichan is embarking on their new strategic document to address priorities that have emerged since the last plan, developed in 2018. These include labour shortages and workforce housing, to which Economic Development Cowichan has begun to respond.
“This strategy will help us develop an economic development document that will guide the work of Economic Development Cowichan over the next five years,” says Barry O’Riordan, Manager, Economic Development Cowichan. “This process is a unique opportunity to feed into and gain insight from sub-regional economic development work happening in parallel, as we seek to build the region’s economic resiliency.”
“These are both exciting projects for our trust to partner on,” says Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust. “It’s the first time we’ve partnered with the North Cowichan on an economic development action plan, and we’re equally thrilled that Economic Development Cowichan is preparing their strategy in parallel, which can help inform and align both documents.”
“The Trust is exactly the kind of mechanism we need to build resilient and sustainable local economies on Vancouver Island, and move our communities beyond the boom and bust cycles that come with over-dependence on resource extraction,” says B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “With investments in local projects that create long-term employment and stable economic activity, the Trust is helping to shape a better future for the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island.”
Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing with both the Municipality of North Cowichan and Economic Development Cowichan through the Investment Readiness Program. The Trust will contribute $30,000 to each.
Both projects will soon be underway.
Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.
Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $59 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $323 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,910 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.
Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral and unceded territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.
Island Coastal Economic Trust
General Manager of Planning, Development and Community Services
Municipality of North Cowichan
Economic Development Cowichan