Best Coast Initiatives (BCI) is winding down operations after Gibsons council decided to sever ties with the agency and pursue its own economic development path in 2013.
“BCI is dissolving as a society, but not immediately,” BCI economic development coordinator Michael McLaughlin said Dec. 12. “We’re going to finish up some business, so we can make a smooth transition.”
On Tuesday night, Gibsons council met in a closed session to adopt the terms of reference for a select committee of council that will help guide the Town on economic development.
The committee will be composed of between seven and nine members, including two appointed members of council, Gibsons CAO Emanuel Machado said Wednesday.
Council is looking to draw the lion’s share of community representation from local business groups “and focus on a spirit of cooperation,” Machado said.
To kickstart the process, council will host an economic development summit at the end of January.
“Our hope is to create an event that engages the community,” Machado said, describing the summit as a forum that will help the Town “prioritize the activities for the year, build momentum and build partnerships.”
Council voted in-camera last month not to renew its contract with BCI. Under the three-year contract, which expires at the end of the year, the Town contributed $25,000 annually, which was matched by $25,000 from areas E (Elphinstone) and F (West Howe Sound) in the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).
Machado said there is strong interest from the Town in continuing its partnership with areas E and F, but with efforts to launch a regional economic development alliance on hold, council felt it was time to strike out on its own.
“The main difference is the administration,” he said. “BCI was a contracted service to an organization and we’re moving to a volunteer advisory committee, with the administration of the economic development function staying in-house.”
One of the main focuses will be “projects on the ground,” he said, adding that BCI’s proposal for a street festival program and special events coordinator is still being considered by council.
SCRD chair Garry Nohr said there have been discussions between the areas E and F directors and the Town regarding BCI, though he hasn’t been privy to them.
“I’m waiting to hear what those two areas say when they come to the board. It’ll probably come out at budget time. All I can say is they felt very strongly in the past about that area working together and I think it’s going to continue,” Nohr said.