Esquimalt joins regional economic development plan

Dan Dagg can’t help but feel disappointed when he looks at the declining numbers for gross domestic product growth in the capital region.

Dan Dagg can’t help but feel disappointed when he looks at the declining numbers for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the capital region.

In 2008, the region ranked fourth overall among Canada’s large metropolitan areas. Five years later, it slipped to almost last at 27.

In 2005, Halifax was ranked 15th and had an 11 per cent unemployment rate. Now, Dagg said Halifax is predicted to lead the nation in 2015 and unemployment has slid to 5.9 per cent thanks to a collaborative model rather than multiple municipalities working in a fragmented fashion, like Greater Victoria.

In an effort to turn Victoria’s lagging economy into a success story like Halifax and create more jobs, Dagg, board chair of the Greater Victoria Development Agency (GVDA), told Esquimalt council Monday night that the GVDA is closing down after eight years to be replaced with a new not-for-profit regional society funded by private and public participants.

He believes a collaborative approach is more attractive to businesses and investors, and would actually provide enough money to spur economic development.

“It (GVDA) has kept economic development alive for the last eight years, but it has been sorely underfunded. Eighty-thousand a year is nothing,” said Dagg, adding the new society (South Vancouver Island Economic Development Association) took some pieces from the Halifax model, but scanned the whole country as well, including Nanaimo, which started hitting hard on economic development two to three years ago.

In the Greater Victoria region, approximately 50 cents per person is designated for economic development, compared to more than $4 per person in Nanaimo and Vancouver.

“It was honestly getting embarrassing to see a small mid-Island municipality whooping our ass in terms  of economic development activities…Sometimes we think because we live in paradise and in such a beautiful spot that we need to suffer and work at underpaid jobs and sacrifice things. But nobody said that has to happen. We deserve to prosper as much as any other city.”

Among the benefits of working together, said Dagg, is the ability to apply for larger government grants for regional projects, such as those addressing transportation, along with attracting and keeping industries that provide jobs for residents.

The new agency not only has representation from municipalities, but also industry, Royal Roads University, the University of Victoria and Camosun College — input supporters say is crucial to moving forward in a meaningful and sustainable way.

So far, all municipalities are on board to help with funding except for Metchosin. Council for North Saanich will vote Dec. 14 on whether to get involved.

All of Esquimalt’s councillors voted in favour.

“We, as a council, see the benefit of doing economic development from a regional approach and we also think it will be a significant adjunct to our economic development that we’re doing already,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

“The numbers (GDP) tell the tale. At the end of the day, if we can see that people’s income is coming up, that makes everything in this region more affordable.”

The initial funding model for the new agency has member municipalities contribute $1 per resident plus .07 per cent of property tax collected. The society has already secured more than $100,000 in start-up funding from the private sector alone.

The interim committee members and GVDA staff are working on a five-year economic development strategy with industry and education experts. Applications for federal and provincial funding will begin as early as January.

In the mean time, Dagg said the ultimate goal is to create more “household sustaining” jobs, meaning wages people can live off of.

“We’re not looking to create a bunch of minimum-wage coffee shop jobs, we’re looking to grow industries that require skilled workers, (businesses) that are clean and environmentally sensitive and pay good wages,” he said. “We want people to have careers.”

 

 

Just Posted

Woman charged in Saanichton stabbing

One man treated for injuries, released from hospital following Friday assault

Saanich’s Red Lion Inn receives council’s blessing for extended liquor hours

Extension comes more than two years after a major fire

Province continues to investigate Saanich’s Horticultural Centre of the Pacific

Investigation stems from May 2 incident that turned Colquitz River ‘chocolate brown’

Avid Victoria cyclist’s legacy bike ride helps fund end-of-life care

2019 Denis Muloin Ride for Palliative Care invites cyclists for May 26 fundraiser

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read