Tofino invests in economic development

Tofino’s municipal council recently dished out about $8,000 to several local economic development efforts.

The funding stemmed from recommendations Tofino’s Community Economic Development Committee (CEDC) brought to a recent council meeting.

Council agreed to give: $2,000 to the Tofino-Long Beach chamber of commerce (TLBC) to help grow the chamber’s ‘Buy Local’ campaign, $5,000 to hire a contractor to prepare a framework for the CEDC, and $1,000 to support an Innovation Island workshop series.

 â€œAs chair of the (CEDC) I can say that there’s a sense that there have been a number of initiatives that have some potency that we feel can’t really get underway without at least getting some seed money to move them forward,” explained Coun. Dorothy Baert at a recent Tofino council meeting.

Baert said the money would be taken from council’s special projects reserve, which has about $60,000 in the tank. 

“The amounts we’re talking about today aren’t so high relative to that but there considered to be kind of critical to moving this work forward,” she said.

She said the TLBC has had its eye on a buy local campaign for some time but about $2,000 of  “seed money” was needed to get the initiative rolling.

“This is a small amount of money to put forward to get a specific project that the committee has identified as a value,” Baert said.

Mayor Josie Osborne said the Buy Local program would be aimed at promoting the purchase of products from local businesses as well as the purchase of products made locally.

 â€œThe idea of the seed money is, recognizing that the chamber is limited in its existing resources, they needed a bit of a start to really flesh out what the whole program is going to look like,” Osborne said.

“I think this was the (CEDC’s) way of saying, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it right, and we’re going to help you get it together so that you can do it right.’”

Baert said the $5,000 contractor was needed to sort through the CEDC’s past work and lay out a framework for future efforts.

“The idea is that somebody would be contracted to pull together the work of the last couple years of the committee and lay out…where we are, where we are going, and what are the action steps that need to be taken,” Baert said.

“It needs to have a focused professional craftsmanship to go through these things and to lay out something that’s a reasonable and workable plan that the committee could move forward with.”

Coun. Greg Blanchette wondered why such a contractor would be needed.

 â€œI’m not clear on what developing the framework is; to my mind that’s kind of the committee’s job itself, to develop this framework,” Blanchette said.

“Now the committee is recommending that we hire somebody to develop the framework, what am I not understanding?”

Osborne responded that the CEDC is not resourced as well as other committees.

“We don’t have the expertise in community economic development amongst the district of Tofino staff,” she said.

“In order for this committee to really tackle some of the scope under its terms of reference, it needs some of that expertise to facilitate and move it together.”

She added the committee would not realize its potential without some support.

“If it doesn’t have the expertise on the committee, the committee’s just continually spinning its wheels,” she said.

“If there isn’t a coordinator or person with expertise who’s hired to help move things along, things tend to not move along and the committee’s recognizing that it needs this help.”

Coun. Al Anderson asked for further clarification on what the position would be tasked with and Osborne reiterated that it would help the committee establish a framework.

“This particular contract is to really develop that framework, or strategic plan almost, for that committee and its work,” Osborne said.

“It’s not ongoing secretariat services, although that may be something that comes out of this that the committee wishes to consider if our own staff can’t resource it the way that it needs to be resourced.”

Council also agreed to provide $1,000 to support an Innovation Island workshop series.

Osborne said Innovation Island will bring its workshop series to Tofino in the fall and suggested the district should support the en route initiative.

“If the district of Tofino provided up to $1,000 to complement the workshops in terms of their promotion and providing lunch at the workshops it would attract more (people),” she said.

 

Andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca