Economic development report due next month

  • Sep. 15, 2008 2:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Creating jobs that are tied to the community is a must, Moresby Island Management Committee members told Anneli Rosteski, the executive director of the Misty Islands Economic Development Society. That means local access to local resources, said Bill Quaas who says local employers need to have access to wood that is tied up in different forest tenures. Ms Rosteski attended the Sept.10 MIMC meeting to let committee members know what she and CEO Jim Green have been doing since being hired in the spring. Ms Rosteski, who has been working full-time since July, said they’ve been talking with stakeholders, getting to know the community and the issues on the islands and intend to have a strategic plan to present to the board in October. She says the plan will have actionable items and that current priorities are a container port, a community forest, agriculture, non-timber forest products and marine resources, as well as creating a presence for the islands at the Vancouver Airport. MIMC member Duane Gould said he’s been doing some background research himself – reading through three different economic development reports that have prepared dating back to 1975. They’re all on the shelf, he said. “I’m wondering if this will be the fourth?” He says MIEDS needs to have a clear-cut mandate to provide jobs and that government must be willing to invest in infrastructure or things will never change. He pointed to the need for better power, something islanders have been calling for for 30 years. “We want to see some teeth in it,” says Duane Gould of the upcoming strategic plan. “Take that back to the board.” Gord Usher asked how often the MIEDS board meets and Ms Rosteski said they meet on the third Tuesday of every month. “The meetings are not open to the public yet, but we are talking about how to move in that direction,” she said. “An open door policy is a must,” said Mr. Usher. Area E Regional District representative Travis Glasman, who is also on the board of MIEDS, agreed. He says people are calling MIEDS a secret society and complain to him that the board was hand picked. “I want to see us get out in the public as soon as possible.” He added that the board is looking for continual funding so that it can keep an employee focused on the economic development tasks ahead. Ms Rosteski said part of the problem with old reports was that there was no one tasked with following up. “Now staff is dedicated to making these things happen,” she said. So far her priorities have come out of the public meetings held during the community viability planning process, she says. “Now we are building on what the community has contributed to the process,” she said. Carol Wagner reminded everyone that economic development workers had been hired before, but access to wood for small sawmills or other value added businesses is one of the essential keys that has always been missing.