New economic development agency eyed for region

The proposed agency would include and receive funding from all 13 Greater Victoria municipalities

Greater Victoria municipalities are being asked to help fund a new economic development agency, which would “sell the region.”

A recent summit, hosted by the Greater Victoria Development Agency, pitched the idea of creating a new economic body which would include and receive funding from all 13 Greater Victoria municipalities.

The existing Greater Victoria Economic Development Agency is associated with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and receives funding from Victoria, Saanich and other groups, with an annual operating budget of about $180,000.

By contrast, the new organization is projecting annual operating budget of about $700,000.

Coun. Rick Kasper was the only political representative from Sooke who attended the summit, and was enthusiastic about the proposal.

“It was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I thought it was a very good event,” Kasper told district council last week.

“It clearly pointed out to me that we should seriously be considering a regional approach.”

More than 60 per cent of Sooke’s workforce is not employed within the community and commute to other parts of the region to work, Kasper said.

Under the GVEDA proposal, each community would pay to operate the economic agency based on a five-year fixed funding formula of a 50/50 blend of per capita (2011 census) and a percentage of total tax collected in dollars.

In Sooke’s case, the muncipality would pay $2,500 in startup costs, $7,300 the first year of operation and another $$16,422 in years two to five.

Kasper said the benefit all municipalities would have is the agency looking at official community plans and economic plans and develop a regional strategy.

 

The Greater Victoria Economic Development Agency is expected to make a presentation to Sooke council later this year.