Community-led project seeks to enhance quality of life and improve economic prospects

COURTENAY, 22 June 2020 – The oceanfront community of Port McNeill has embarked on a commitment to make their North Island town more enticing and economically thriving for young workers, families and visitors through an Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) downtown development study.

The project falls on the heels of a previous ICET-supported Economic Development Plan that identified “improved quality of life” as a key factor in making Port McNeill more appealing. A local community organization, in collaboration with key business owners, developed this latest proposal approved under ICET’s Quick Start funding stream.

“ICET is committed to grassroots decision-making, and this project in Port McNeill goes straight to the heart of the people most-connected to the needs in the downtown core,” said ICET Chair Josie Osborne. “Vision is only half of the equation, but the community-based organization has been able to rally the town’s support in order to move vision into action.”

In March, an international destination development expert went onsite to assess 60 key elements, including public art, historical attractions, pedestrian accessibility, cultural activities, business hours and internet accessibility. A community-wide meeting then discussed capitalizing on its potential for business, arts, culture, visitor and innovation opportunities.

“This project is significant for us, because we have a limited tax base and multiple needs with the community,” says Port McNeill Mayor Gabriele Wickstrom. “It gives us the ability to look forward into the future of our community.”

The Assessment Report, delivered by the destination development expert in May, provides more than 75 ideas on how Port McNeil can become a stronger, year-round destination to live, raise a family, work, invest in, bring a business and encourage visitors. Findings such as improving curb appeal, signage, online presence and wayfinding are short-term suggestions, while other proposals, such as creating a public plaza and pavilion are longer-term projects to consider.

The report is being built into a phased development action plan to create a shared vision and way forward for local government, commercial landowners, businesses and residents of Port McNeill.

Completion of the project is expected in August 2020.


About the Island Coastal Economic Trust
Created and capitalized by the Province of BC in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s (ICET) mission is to create a more diverse and globally competitive North Island-Sunshine Coast and Central-South Island economy that benefits communities. In partnership with local and regional government, nonprofits and indigenous groups, ICET serves nearly half a million residents to support economic infrastructure and economic development readiness projects. Through a unique community centered decision-making process, ICET has approved more than $52 million in funding for over 200 initiatives. These investments have leveraged over $270 million in new investment into the region creating more than 2500 construction phase jobs and 2650 long term permanent jobs.

About the Quick Start funding stream
ICET’s Quick Start funding stream enables communities with limited staff and financial resources to “kickstart” their new strategies and turn concepts into action with projects that can be completed within a short timeframe. Funding up to $15,000 may be used for small scale capital projects or to support the development of materials or plans required to access funding for larger scale initiatives.

For further information:
Line Robert, CEO
Island Coastal Economic Trust
Tel. 250-871-7797 (Ext. 227)

Amanda Fortier, Communications Officer
Island Coastal Economic Trust
Tel. 250-871-7797 (Ext. 232)

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