As outlined in my previous columns, a number of Town Hall sessions will be held in the South Shuswap in 2020 to engage residents on a series of key topics for this community.
Overall, these sessions will focus on themes related to answering components of the question, “What sort of community would you like to see?”
The next Town Hall will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Cedar Centre, and will focus on the topic of Shuswap Economic Development (SED).
This topic is timely for our community for several reasons, including:
• In June of 2019, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board elected to move forward with the establishment of an “arms-length” delivery model for Shuswap Economic Development. This decision, spearheaded by the directors of Electoral Areas C, D and F, was largely made because of a feeling of dissatisfaction with the in-house model driven by the perspective that we could generate much better value for the dollars spent by going with a non-profit society approach. A new SED model will be initiated in January 2021, so it’s now appropriate to collaborate with the community on developing new approaches to addressing local economic development needs.
• Traditional economic development is gradually being replaced by an approach called “community economic development,” which is described as a “community-centered process that blends social and economic development to foster the economic, social, ecological and cultural well-being of communities.” A Town Hall session is a strong approach as a community-centered process.
• As described in the Area C Governance Study, the South Shuswap may be overly reliant on residential assessments as they make up about 97% of the total property assessment. In a community of 8,000 residents, this information points out that Area C is significantly underdeveloped commercially, and that homeowners carry a disproportionate load of the local tax burden. It also suggests that there is ample room for new business development and expansion of current businesses as a means to promote jobs, economic and community well-being.
• The Shuswap Labour Market Study pointed out that a sizeable percentage of current businesses in this area are facing challenges in attracting suitable employees, and this is hindering business growth. Workforce planning and development is a core element of any successful CED plan.
• In 2019, following substantial community consultations and research, a new Shuswap Economic Development Plan was approved by the CSRD board. This plan needs to be better communicated to the residents of Area C, and a Town Hall meeting is an ideal medium for this.
I think greater community involvement will be an important element contributing to the success of Shuswap Economic Development going forward. I would encourage you to get involved and to contribute your thoughts on this critical topic.
See you on the 26th!
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District