Campbell River will be one of the province’s four regional economic development pilot projects as part of the Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan, minister Pat Bell announced Thursday.
“We want all regions in British Columbia to be part of our jobs plan,” Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, said in a release. “These pilots will help us to focus on specific job-creating projects. This is about working with our community and First Nation partners to create a sustainable economic future.
“I’m very excited about this project. It could have a profound effect on the prosperity of British Columbia.” The Regional Economic Investment Pilot is aimed at attracting investment, identifying opportunities, economic diversification and job creation in areas consistent with the BC Jobs Plan. The province will assist communities by providing expertise, and facilitating community and regional linkages to key partners, stakeholders and programs to advance investment opportunities. No funding will be provided to communities.
Campbell River will hold a forum in January, which will be hosted by Bell, where representatives from local government, business, industry, First Nations and education will explore investment opportunities and share solutions in overcoming barriers. By the end of the forum, an inventory of potential projects and an initial action plan on how best to implement them will have been created. The provincial government will assist Campbell River by developing an intensified approach to capitalize on those opportunities. Selected projects will be implemented in the following six to 18 months. Once the pilots are complete, additional communities will have the opportunity to partner with the government on investment opportunities.”The City of Campbell River welcomes the provincial government’s initiative to pilot its Jobs Plan in the city,” said Mayor-Elect Walter Jakeway.
“Over the past few years the City has experienced the loss of several hundred jobs. With provincial support, we would like to make job creation and investment a priority not only for Campbell River but for Coastal BC as well.”
The province said the four selected communities represent the diversity of community needs across the province. Campbell River qualified as a medium-sized city. Others were the Barriere to McBride corridor (small rural communities) North Fraser (small urban area) and a still to be named First Nation.
Pilots were selected using the following considerations:
– Diverse community locations,
– Range of population sizes,
– Diverse economic challenges and opportunities,
– Strong indication of investment-ready projects,
– Demonstrated commitment to planning for the future,
– Strong local leadership,
– Community-level recognition of the value of non-monetary assistance, and
– Alignment with key competitive sectors identified in the BC Jobs Plan.
Thursday’s announcement comes in the wake of Bell’s visit to Campbell River in October. At the time, Bell said Campbell River was a strong candidate to become a pilot community.
“I have always felt that Campbell River is under-performing it’s potential,” he told the Courier-Islander at the time. “I think it’s the kind of place that you could show a dramatic improvement in a relatively short period of time. That’s another reason why Campbell River would be a good potential pilot area, because I think it’s ripe to show significant improvement.
“(Mayor) Charlie (Cornfield) and council and the local businesses and First Nations have really, I think, got the community to a place where it’s ready to see big, positive projects and outcomes. So for me it’s a logical place to be. You want to start at a place where you can get a positive outcome.”
Source: Dan MacLennan, Campbell River Courier-Islander