Economic sustainability strategy on the table

 | November 19, 2012

Resort Municipality is working on an economic sustainability strategy, a project that represents one of three parts that will form the backbone of the municipality’s Official Community Plan. The other two components to be addressed are environmental and social sustainability.

“We want to get at the principles that will lead us to a healthy sustainable economy,” explains Sun Peaks’ mayor, Al Raine. “When we get these other components (environmental and social) to it we’ll see if we can’t match them all up and that will be the basis of the community plan.”

The economic strategy is the first of the three issues that council is addressing through facilitated meetings. The project was funded in part by the federal government gas tax funding.

“We’re getting close to a draft document that we can circulate on a larger basis within the community,” continues Raine. “We’ll have a public process where we’ll present the findings to invited members of the public too.”

Fostering a solid plan for economic sustainability is a clear priority for the municipality. Sun Peaks Resort is a main driver of the economy, but Mayor Raine explains that economic diversification would strengthen the community as well.

“We do see that some land use and land development projects are good for the community because it’ll have more people working in the construction industry . . ., more home based industries, some diversification away from the core tourism industry,” he says. “Dealing with the seasonality issue is of major importance. If we could make four months in the summer look like our winter economic model we’d have a much more sustainable community.”

An official community plan is a requirement of all municipalities, and involves a process whereby the plans must be drafted with community input, approved by council, as well as being approved by the Province. Sun Peaks’ municipal council has a target of the end of 2013 to complete these plans.

“What are the community values? The environment is very important, economics are very important. We can’t have some of the recreation . . . facilities unless we have a pretty sustainable economy. And there’s a social aspect to it,” explains Raine. “We’ve got to make sure the social sustainability is balanced by economic sustainability and we must have concern about the environment at all times. So, to me, a community plan is really a framework for making future decisions. I’m hoping ours will be one of guiding principles.”