Funding provided for economic task force

A provincial grant of $100,000, along with funding and in-kind aid from the municipality, will be used to develop an economic strategy.

MLA Dan Ashton presents Mayor Peter Waterman with a $100

A provincial grant of $100,000, along with funding and in-kind aid from the municipality, will be used to develop an economic strategy for the community.

The $100,000 Rural Dividend Fund grant was presented last week. In addition, the municipality will contribute $35,000 and in-kind funding of $12,075 for a total of $147,075.

The funding will be used to hire an economic development project coordinator for a one-year term.

The project coordinator will focus on four components. These are development of clear, concise communication material, signage strategy, agri-tech sector development and developing a long-term economic development strategy action plan.

The Mayor’s Economic Task Force was introduced in late October, 2015 and began its six-month work early this year.

Its role was to consult with stakeholders and develop recommendations on how the municipality could best support economic development.

The recommendations were to be presented to council in June.

However, Mayor Peter Waterman said the task force members soon realized they would need more time.

“The committee felt we needed to dig deeper and be more focussed,” he said.

In summer, the municipality applied for provincial funding to expand the scope of the committee.

He said a thorough study is needed before workable recommendations can be made.

“If you want your economy to work, you’ve got to have your base work done,” he said.

Once the research is done, Waterman said the coordinator and task force will look for any opportunities which can benefit the community.

Waterman said the initial six-month timeline was not a realistic projection.

“It’s a daunting task,” he said.

While the Summerland Chamber of Commerce works on business retention, attraction and expansion strategies, the chamber as an entity is not part of the task force. Instead, the members of the task force come from various sectors of the Summerland business community.

Chamber president Erick Thompson and former chamber president Kelly Marshall are both on the committee.

“We certainly would look forward to working with these individuals and this project,” said Christine Petkau, executive director of the chamber.