Blog entry

2013 definitely had its fair share of dramatic news events and stories: The passing of the world- changing South African leader, Nelson Mandela, the tragic Filipino typhoon, the Syrian civil war and use of chemical weapons and the Boston Marathon bombing.

And closer to home we had: the Senate scandal, Mayor Rob Ford’s crack troubles, the election of Justin Trudeau as Canada’s Liberal leader and of course, the somewhat surprising re-election of Christie Clark’s BC Liberals. Practically comical compared to the world stage.

What about really close to home: on the upside North Vancouver Island had a year of major project development with the Cape Scott wind farm and the Kokish “run of river” project.  On the downside, announced changes to the Port Hardy-Prince Rupert Ferry service will be felt by many sectors in 2014 and beyond.

It looks like the forest sector will remain in good shape for 2014, as lumber prices continue to hold or even rise.  Oh….note to self…we need to discuss developing a value-added sector in our forest industry…you know, a sawmill!

Manpower for the major energy projects will wind down to small maintenance crews. As a result accommodations that may have been rented over the past year and a half may be left vacant as the rental and sales markets cool.

The impact of ferry cuts will be felt as the tourism season commences in the spring. Though tourism may not be able to compete with our traditional resource sector industries, it is growing on North Vancouver Island. A setback, like the changes announced for the coastal ferry runs, will hurt the sector at a time when it needs support.

This, in part, is the back drop as three local administrations launch themselves into economic planning exercises in 2014.  Malcolm Island, Port McNeill and the Regional District are all retaining consultants to help them develop plans for how they can support and hopefully increase economic development in their areas.

The question needs to be asked: “what are the elements of the economy that we can control and grow?” So much of what happens to our region and communities is driven by external government policies or corporate decision making; by people or agendas that don’t really have any kind of connection to our communities, homes and families.

I am glad to see these planning processes being started. At a minimum it’s important that North Island industries, employers and the taxpayers be aware of these planning processes, and better still, that they engage in the discussion that will occur over the coming months.  For this to happen the communities themselves and their consultants need to create the mechanisms that will allow individuals, companies and organizations to be heard.

David Mitchell
Manager, CFMW

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