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Colwood lays out long term economic development plan

The City of Colwood has released its draft of the Economic Development Strategic Plan, designed to bring about some big and bold changes to the area.

And now they’re taking feedback.

The plan’s first priority is to create a full-time economic development manager position, and make economic development a core service to the municipality.

“Right now economic development is sort of off the side of our desks,” says Iain Bourhill, director of planning for the City of Colwood. “Having a dedicated staff person would be a huge help.”

Also high on the list is the development of a single resource guide for businesses coming into the city and exploring tax exemptions for non-residential development, as well as improving what Bourhill calls “quality of place,” improving public spaces and ‘streetscapes.’

In total, the economic development strategic plan details 24 specific actions that will “support economic development, and enhance the City’s competitive advantage.

And it will maintain a balance between growth and the City’s unique culture,” says the Colwood plan.

Further examples include creating a comprehensive waterfront plan, improving public access to the water’s edge and public use of waterfront amenities, strengthening post-secondary presence, working to secure a performing arts centre or cultural centre, improving street edges on Sooke Road to reinforce pedestrian use, introducing sidewalks and bike lanes to calm traffic, improving overall housing affordability, and working to encourage business and mixed use developments.

“A lot of this stuff has been on our radar screen,” says Bourhill. “It’s quite exciting.”

The City stressed its commitment to sustainability throughout the plan, and was recently recognized as a “Climate Action Community” by the joint Provincial and Union of B.C. Municipalities Green Communities Committee, and was awarded recognition for its effort to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently there is no budget in place to implement the economic development strategic plan as a whole. Instead, resources will be allocated for individual projects or actions as the plan moves forward.

The plan can be viewed at www.colwood.ca/economicdevelopment, and feedback can be directed to Iain Bourhill, director of planning, at ibourhill@colwood.ca or by calling 250-478-5999. The City of Colwood is accepting feedback until Sept. 19.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com

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