The new year is here and it is full of promise for the West Shore. Our vibrant diversified community has so much going for it we should be both thankful and hopeful.
In a world where the European economy and a very slow U.S. recession recovery is worrying to all, Langford, thanks to its strong leadership and for being business friendly, reports a remarkable 3.1 per cent unemployment rate and it’s likely our other local municipalities are similar.
The new small business jobs that the Premier’s jobs plan wants to promote are already happening in the West Shore and we are working with Jobs Minister Pat Bell to find ways to leverage this remarkable success. Stay tuned on that front.
The West Shore Chamber of Commerce recently held its annual Christmas mixer at Hatley Castle in Royal Roads University with more than 200 in attendance. The mood from our many small business owners was positive, even ebullient.
While it’s true that our restaurants and bars have suffered the impacts of HST and drinking laws, and our builders and developers are slowed awaiting HST changes, overall the economy on the West Shore seems stronger than ever.
Sitting here in my office I can see three new restaurants about to open in the next few weeks, making their own significant investments of time and money.
The chamber in partnership with the Entrepreneurs Organization, is launching a catalyst program on the West Shore to assist small businesses to grow and strengthen. Response to this mentoring opportunity has already been strong.
In other words, this is a hopeful and positive community that is learning to build on its strengths and together overcome its challenges: the recent $100 million provincial funding for our urgently needed new high schools being a terrific case in point.
Our focus points for 2012 might include the following New Year’s resolutions:
• That the West Shore mayors continue to collaborate and show more and more solidarity than ever before on common and Capital Regional District issues, such as transportation and rail.
• That the Federal government finally decides to fund the $7.5 million required upgrading the E&N rail line by matching the already committed provincial funds.
• That the new high schools and associated neighborhood learning centres can be well but quickly planned and implemented.
• That the YMCA advances its plans to open new day care facilities and a pool on the West Shore.
• That the remarkable success of the Langford Lanes bowling centre and new ice rink at City Centre Park continues (and please, stop calling me to try to get in!).
• That saner heads prevail on the imposition of sewage and light rapid transit mega-works costs on our local taxpayers — perhaps the day of the infrastructure grand project is over.
• That the new small business jobs growth in the West Shore continues at its rapid pace despite European meltdowns and sluggish U.S. growth.
• That several new projects now underway to protect agricultural land use in our rural communities prevail and make a significant difference (more on this in an upcoming column).
• That the West Shore continues to be the real economic growth engine of Greater Victoria and finally gets recognized as such.
To all our friends and colleagues on the West Shore — have a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new year!
—Dan Spinner is the CEO for the WestShore Chamber of Commerce.