The Columbia Shuswap Regional District is changing the way it tackles economic development in the rural areas of the Shuswap, but not everyone around the board table is in support.
Currently Shuswap Economic Development is directly operated and administered by the CSRD, in conjunction with Shuswap Tourism. At meetings in the spring and summer of 2019, which were not open to the public, the CSRD board rejected a recommendation from regional district staff to keep delivering economic development services through the current model in favour of creating a non-profit society that would fulfill the same role but at arm’s length from the CSRD.
Shuswap Economic Development’s stated aim is to work on projects that support businesses, individuals, economic development organizations and other community groups in the Shuswap.
At the regular board meeting on Jan. 16, directors voted to keep moving towards the development of a non-profit economic development. Support for the new society was not unanimous.
Most notable among those opposed to the new direction for economic development in the Shuswap was Rhona Martin, the director for Electoral Area E representing the rural area around Sicamous. Martin served formal notice of Area E’s intention to withdraw from the service at the Jan. 16 meeting.
According to the CSRD there is no formal provision in place for areas to withdraw from the service, but Sicamous withdrew in January 2018 after giving its notice a year in advance. It also received a vote at the board table which passed with greater than a two-thirds majority. Martin requested that the same procedure be followed in Area E’s case, with its departure date set for the end of Dec. 2020 if it is approved.
At the Jan. 16 meeting, the board voted to leave the decision on Martin’s request in the hands of the remaining directors participating in the service. If the directors for Areas C, D and F vote in favour, the procedure that allowed Sicamous to withdraw from Shuswap Economic Development will be followed for Area E.
Details of the new economic development society will be worked out in a series of upcoming workshops. Once its purpose, organizational, structure, participants, governance and funding models have been firmed up, regional district staff will move ahead with forming the new society.