The relationships and communications between business in the Cowichan Valley and local governments needs to be strengthened.
That’s one of the conclusions from a series of six roundtable consultations that were held with members of the Valley’s business community over a three-month period ending in January.
Brian Carruthers, CAO of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, told business and community leaders at a breakfast meeting on April 11 that was held to present the findings of the roundtable discussions that the district is already working towards better serving the local development community.
“We’ve streamlined our development-approval process by holding bi-weekly board meetings, which will accelerate the process and shorten the time developers will have to wait for a decision on their applications,” he said.
More than 60 business leaders participated in the consultations that were held by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, MNP and Economic Development Cowichan.
The business leaders covered six sectors; including retail, tourism, agriculture, construction and real estate, manufacturing and processing and technology and innovation.
Among the other findings of the roundtables is that the region’s business sectors need to create a “shared vision” by developing a more cohesive and collaborative approach toward what the Valley offers, and more infrastructure is needed in regards to tourist accommodations, residential housing options and public transit.
The roundtable participants also reported a shortage of skilled workers in the region, and determined there is a growing need to attract, develop and retain skilled workers in the local labour force.
Amy Melmock, manager of Economic Development Cowichan, said the region already has a well-established skilled labour force, but a “made in Cowichan” solution is required to attract more to meet local needs.
“We’re also looking at the use of industrial lands in the region and determining what is the best use of the land to respond to industry needs,” she said.
“We can’t continue to just look at old solutions to meet these challenges.”
To check out the whole report, see the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.duncancc.bc.ca/community-links.