New Strategies to Support Economy in Cowichan Valley

November 21, 2023

Cowichan Valley Regional District is comprised of nine electoral areas and four municipalities in the southern part of Vancouver Island: with a combined population of over 80,000 residents. Photo courtesy Cowichan Valley Regional District

COWICHAN VALLEY – The Municipality of North Cowichan and Economic Development Cowichan are pursuing a new economic development action plan and economic development strategy, respectively, through two project investments from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Investment Readiness Program.

Both projects come on the heels of a shifting economic landscape in the region that is setting new priorities for socially and environmentally responsible community economic development that places focus on economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, while also promoting equity, and responding to climate change.

“We are grateful for this support from Island Coastal Economic Trust to help us develop our own economic development action plan, one that will encourage more high-quality and high-paying jobs, support a diverse range of sustainable businesses, provide a solid tax base, and benefit all residents,” says North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas. “I look forward to working with our local partners and stakeholders over the coming months, and drawing upon their input to build an action plan that will strengthen our already thriving local economy.”

“This is a critical moment for us as we face a declining forestry sector and the need to invest in other sectors of the economy,” says George Farkas, General Manager of Planning, Development and Community Services. “The Municipality’s new action plan, which comes out of our 2022 Official Community Plan and the establishment of an economic development committee, will offer a clear opportunity to act strategically in creating the investment conditions to deliver the economic impact we desire.”

The North Cowichan strategy aligns local initiatives with regional objectives and will help create a roadmap to implement strategies supporting economic opportunities. This includes maximizing the contribution that North Cowichan’s industrial lands can make toward green investment and job creation. The project will also direct attention to areas of greatest impact and increase North Cowichan’s capacity to respond to the needs of the community while delivering economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Alongside North Cowichan’s action plan, Economic Development Cowichan is embarking on their new strategic document to address priorities that have emerged since the last plan, developed in 2018. These include labour shortages and workforce housing, to which Economic Development Cowichan has begun to respond.

“This strategy will help us develop an economic development document that will guide the work of Economic Development Cowichan over the next five years,” says Barry O’Riordan, Manager, Economic Development Cowichan. “This process is a unique opportunity to feed into and gain insight from sub-regional economic development work happening in parallel, as we seek to build the region’s economic resiliency.”

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing with both the Municipality of North Cowichan and Economic Development Cowichan through the Investment Readiness Program. The Trust will contribute $30,000 to each.

Both projects will soon be underway.



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