More than a year after the appointment of a board of directors, the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization is finally poised to get $300,000 in local government funding and start work on its mandate.
Mayor Wayne Rowe of Gibsons handed over a cheque for the Town’s portion of that funding after councillors reviewed the service agreement and the organization’s 2017-18 annual plan at their May 2 meeting. The agreement and plan were to go to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) for consideration on May 11, and to Sechelt council on May 17. The fourth local government partner is the shíshálh Nation.
The annual plan includes anticipated expenditures of $291,865, which includes $92,000 for payroll and $25,765 in administrative costs.
It also spells out some objectives such as increasing the number of employers investing in training, establishing a technology and innovation hub, and creating a comprehensive business database and survey. Those objectives are tied to three “strategic goals” – increasing the number of growing businesses and the number of quality career opportunities, and reducing economic disparity.
Speaking later in the week on Coast TV’s Talk to Your Local Government, Rowe said the Town was anxious to see SCREDO fully up and running.
“We’ve been very frustrated with the length of time this has taken. This was set up some time ago,” Rowe said. “You can’t get all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed to the perfection that some people would like. I think at a certain point you say we’ve agreed to move forward with economic development – let’s get going; we can work out the details over the next year if it’s not panning out the way we thought, but it has to start somewhere.”
SCRD chair Garry Nohr said SCREDO is on the right track, but he’s hoping for more details to supplement the brief outline in the annual plan so the public has a better understanding of how it will operate and what it will do.
“They only gave us a rough sketch, not a breakdown of what they’re going to do, and my concern is that we’re going to present this on our agenda, and people will think ‘you’re giving out $300,000 to this organization without clear outlines?’” he said.
Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne agreed with Rowe that it’s time to move to the next step, but added his council still has some questions.
“The District of Sechelt’s experience with economic development in the past, when it was basically one page on the back of a napkin – ‘OK boys, here’s your money, go and do it’ – didn’t end well at all,” Milne said. “We don’t want to take the risk that a year from now this doesn’t work. We’re being cautious.”
Recently elected shíshálh Nation Chief Warren Paull said all the concerns shíshálh had around the terms of reference and strategic plan have been addressed, and they’ve also signed off on their share of the funding.
“We’re fully on board and we’re looking forward to seeing this thing take off,” Paull said.
SCREDO also has a board vacancy to fill. Shelley McDade, CEO of the Sunshine Coast Credit Union, has stepped aside after it became clear there could be potential conflicts between her position with the Credit Union and her role on the SCREDO board.
Board member David Chisholm has stepped in as chair. In a release this week he said, “The board members are excited to achieve this milestone and look forward to engaging with the community.”
He said the board would be recruiting a replacement for McDade once they’ve “cleared all of this year’s administrative hurdles.”
Copies of SCREDO’s bylaws, strategic plan and other documents are available at: www.scredo.ca