The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) will back a candidate under the provincial Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot program.
At its June 6 board of directors meeting, it was agreed the RDBN would apply to the EI pilot scheme, which the Village of Burns Lake joined in January.
The EI program aims to draw immigrant entrepreneurs to rural areas. Applicants must have more than $100,000 in eligible business investments, a personal net worth of at least $300,000, a minimum of 51 per cent ownership of the business and be able to create at least one new job.
Since Burns Lake joined the program, it has received more than a dozen applications.
The RDBN will also support the candidate’s business plan, which is targeting sites outside of Burns Lake village boundaries and under district jurisdiction.
Jason Llewellyn, Director of Planning explained to the board that details on the candidate’s identity and business plan aren’t yet publicly available.
However, he said the candidate is looking for the right location for a light industrial project.
“It’s a light industrial type of manufacturing operation that likely can’t fit in a municipality so they are looking rurally,” he said.
“They looked in this area and they also looked in the Vanderhoof area. But they haven’t yet identified a site. They haven’t identified yet if they would fit in under the home occupation set of regulations or a site that would require re-zoning. The location is up in the air.”
By supporting the individual, the RDBN could also open up other communities in the district to more candidates under the EI pilot program.
“It would be great if the regional district could take this as a pilot maybe. And then in the fall, if they have an opportunity – to opt in as the entire regional district,” said Burns Lake mayor Dolores Funk.
Several directors said they supported the idea because it’s a gateway to future economic opportunities.
“This is what economic development is! I will vote in favour of this,” said Telkwa mayor Brad Layton. “I would rather have this than us spending time going to certain conventions when this is actually a tool to bring that investment within our region.”
Before joining the pilot program, community representatives are given mandatory training for the scheme, after which a community can be formally enrolled.