West Shore municipalities have an opportunity to be part of something that could provide a great return on investment.
The fledgling South Island Economic Development Association – the awkward name is just a placeholder – will soon assume the responsibility of going to bat for the Capital Region, collectively, and begin working to both attract new business, create jobs and strengthen those businesses already in place.
Three of the five West Shore municipalities have voted at council meetings to help fund the new organization, with Langford the first to jump on board. In doing so these councils have put stock in the idea that a regional body can, through its actions, make a difference to the economic health of all parts of the region.
We like the fact that Langford, Colwood, View Royal and possibly Highlands looked at the big picture and realized that what is good for the region can be good for its municipalities.
Contrary to what some West Shore politicians may have initially believed, the Capital Regional District had nothing to do with the creation of this new agency. Had that been the case, it would naturally raise the eyebrows of those area politicians who see the CRD as an unwieldy bureaucracy.
No, it has its origins in the business community, having been spearheaded by the people at the Greater Victoria Development Agency, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, of which the Westshore Chamber is a member.
The key measuring stick for the new group’s work will be to see Greater Victoria reverse its downward trend to the bottom of the list in terms of GDP growth among Canada’s metropolitan areas. Going from fourth in the country to 27th has clearly scared many of the movers and shakers in the region, enough to prompt new action to be taken.
No longer can we rely on tourism, or the fact Greater Victoria is a great place to live to attract new business or grow existing ones. We need to look closely at what we can do better; what our real strengths and weaknesses are. This regional committee has already assembled an all-star team of experts and community builders to find some concrete answers to those questions.
We aren’t surprised that Metchosin has opted not to contribute to this new regional agency, having prized its rural status and arguably created an exclusionary environment over the years. While it may not see value in being a part of this project, we can guarantee it, too, will benefit from the agency’s successes.