Regional District of Nanaimo reviews spending for tourism, economic development

NANAIMO – Duties were previously contracted to Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation.

Regional District of Nanaimo reviews spending for tourism, economic development

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking at new ways to address economic development and tourism promotion.

The regional district had contracted out those services to Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation for electoral areas A, B and C, with $191,000 budgeted in 2017. With the City of Nanaimo shutting down the corporation in January, the money will be left in reserve.

Regional district staff presented a report with options and the district will hold yet-to-be determined planning sessions to look at courses of action.

Among the options are a Cowichan Valley Regional District-like model where the district provides economic development and tourism promotion. Another option is that of Port Alberni, which focuses on economic development and has a model where an organization, such as the chamber of commerce, handles the duties.

A model similar to the old Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation arrangement and a grants-based model were also recommendations.

Alec McPherson, Area A director, said the sessions will provide a chance to examine options in lieu of the corporation.

“We’re just trying to keep a totally open mind and not try to direct staff down a rabbit hole some place. We’re looking for something that maybe we can collectively deal on rather than each area having its own little program because when you start running separate programs, it makes it a little more difficult and time consuming, even for staff,” said McPherson.

Maureen Young, Area C director, echoed McPherson’s sentiments and said she will listen and go from there.

The regional district board voted Tuesday to provide $6,000 over six months to Gabriola Chamber of Commerce in the interim for tourism promotion.

Howard Houle, Area B director, said he will go with the “made-on-Gabriola” option initially and any forthcoming plans will be examined to see if they are beneficial.

Money will go toward social media and staff at the chamber and the Gabriola visitors’ centre, which provides tourism promotion, said Houle.