Cumberland intends to withdraw from the regional economic development service — provided under contract by the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) — because council wishes to spend money on initiatives that directly impact the village.
Mayor Leslie Baird says the move would ease the society’s job and allow Cumberland to focus on its own needs that differ from other Valley communities.
“I think what brought it to light for me was the reaction of the candidates at the all-candidates meeting, and when economic development was brought up,” she said, in reference to the pre-election forum. The consensus was to withdraw from the service.
“It’s really hard to have six bosses — the three municipalities and the three area directors. They have to go with the majority, and that’s completely understandable.
“It was not an easy decision to make for me, but I understand why, and I think we could do a good job for the people,” Baird added. “We will be asking for input from people. We’ll set a plan up of how we’re going to proceed.”
The request to withdraw from CVEDS rests with the provincial government.
“It’s the appropriate timing because the contract is up with the regional district,” Baird said.
Last year, the Village provided $45,157 to the service out of an annual operating budget of $1.1 million.
Coun. Jesse Ketler was appointed to the CVEDS board.
Cumberland is one of the fastest growing and youngest communities in the central Island. The median age is 38.2 years. Population is growing at an annual average of 4.24 per cent.
Council believes the village is at a critical point in its development. It wishes to focus on three main economic drivers identified in the updated Official Community Plan: eco-tourism, commercial development and industrial development.
Baird believes business owners deserve a “Cumberland-specific organization working on their behalf.”
Cumberland is developing as a destination for outdoor recreation, heritage, arts and culture.
Future commercial development would augment accommodation, restaurant, guiding, small retail and microbrewery services. Industrial development would focus on industries aimed at mainstreaming environmental, climate and social considerations in their operations.