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Elk Valley Economic Initiative brings forward plans for Development Service Bylaw

Representatives with the Elk Valley Economic Initiative are presenting a plan for a collaborative way to give local communities a boost.

The Economic Development Service Bylaw is still in its early stages, as more work is needed to make it a reality.

“We’re presenting to all three municipal councils in the Elk Valley to give them more information on how to start the process for reviewing and initiating an Elk Valley Economic Development Service Bylaw,” said Taylor Jenkins, EVEI coordinator.

Jenkins said the bylaw would have to go through the Regional District of East Kootenay, but the EVEI wanted to get Elkford, Fernie and Sparwood’s council members on the same page before moving ahead.

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“Funding would be obtained, and it would be up to them on how to deliver the service,” said Jenkins. “There could be, at the end of the day, an economic development officer in place for the Elk Valley to further community economic development work.

Jenkins said having this bylaw in place would mean the communities would be able to take a more collaborative approach to developing their economies to benefit residents, and in turn, businesses.

“The long-term benefits would be improving life for residents, developing long-term plans and visions through sustainable development and economic diversification, planning and improvements,” said Jenkins. “This will help reduce the impact of economic downturns, help address economic disparity and create more equitable growth across the region.”

Jenkins said housing is among the biggest issues the EVEI hopes to see addressed with this planned bylaw.

“Workforce housing has been a big demand from local businesses to increase staff,” said Jenkins. “It’s really important to bring up housing supply in the Elk Valley to increase workers, permanent residents and just increase types of housing in the Elk Valley to better support people who are not in a financial position to pay these increasing rents in the Elk Valley and the rest of B.C.”

The first stage of this is to gauge interest among Elk Valley municipalities before the RDEK takes over to make the Economic Development Service Bylaw a reality.

“This is simply initiating the process. We really want to give council members more information on how this service will be delivered and how there’s been a demand from local businesses,” said Jenkins.

The EVEI has presented the plan to Elkford and Sparwook, with Fernie to see the proposal on Tuesday.

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