After withdrawing from the Comox Valley Regional District’s economic development service in early 2016, the Village of Cumberland is launching its own Economic Development Strategy this year.
The Economic Development Strategy (EDS) will guide economic development priorities and decision-making in Cumberland for the next five years.
“The idea behind it is, where do we put our resources? What is important to the community?” said Village chief administrative officer Sundance Topham.
“If the municipality is helping encourage economic development, where should the resources be allocated? We’ve got some general ideas about what’s going on in Cumberland, but this strategy is supposed to make it really clear and provide data to back it up and provide a clear direction to move forward.”
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The implementation phase of the EDS will last until April. The Village is asking for feedback from Cumberland residents through a community survey that will be open until Feb. 18. The survey can be answered online or in-person at the Village’s office.
A community planning forum is also scheduled to take place in Cumberland in March.
“We really want to hear what people have to say,” said Topham. “The big thing moving forward is that it’s a fresh start for Cumberland, it’s a good opportunity for people to get involved and we’re trying to get as much input as possible.”
Cumberland withdrew from the CVRD’s economic development service (provided under contract by the Comox Valley Economic Development Society) two years ago. The decision to withdraw cost the Village about $160,000, spread out over four years.
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Cumberland mayor Leslie Baird said the decision was made because council wished to spend money on initiatives that directly impacted the village’s residents.
“We found that we were wanting to go in a different direction than they were wanting to go in,” she said in 2016. “Developing a new model of providing economic development services is a strategic priority of the Village.
“By withdrawing from the economic development service of the CVRD we’re now able to explore this in more detail.”
The Village received a grant from the BC Rural Dividend Fund to help fund the EDS. With that funding, Cumberland hired Vancouver-based firm EcoPlan to help support and carry out the strategy.
The Village also struck a steering committee for the EDS near the end of 2017. The committee is composed of local residents, local business representatives and members of not-for-profit groups.
The steering committee met for the first time on Dec. 12 and its next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6. The meetings are open to the public to attend.