RDN looks at three-year deal with Gabriola chamber for economic development

The tourism and economic development void on Gabriola Island could soon be filled by its chamber of commerce.

The corporation had been contracted to handle the services for Gabriola, but after the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation shut down in January, the regional district approved provision of about $6,000 to the chamber for interim tourism promotion. The board is anticipated to vote on whether to enter into a three-year deal with the chamber at its Oct. 3 regular meeting, according to Howard Houle, Gabriola Island director.

Economic planning work, a commercial forecast study and a strategic plan for economic development are works already done by the chamber, Houle said.

If approval is given, funding of $29,925 for development services would be available until the end of the fiscal year, and subsequently, $65,000 a year would be available.

"That [$29,925] is going towards a branding exercise and setting up the governance structure," said Gloria Hatfield, chamber president. "Again for both of those, we're going to be looking to some other organizations to leverage those funds and get some support elsewhere."

Houle said the chamber will have to build from the ground up.

"As soon as the NEDC collapsed, everything that they had about Gabriola vanished," said Houle. "So the people here have to start from square one. There's no photos, there's no website, there's nothing."

The three-year deal would be begin April 1.

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