BC is demonstrating its support for the communities of the Islands by providing $500,000 to help create an office that will co-ordinate economic development opportunities, Lands Minister Pat Bell announced Wednesday at the Forest Service office in Queen Charlotte."This half-a-million dollars will be used in combination with other funding to set up an economic development office that will pursue opportunities that benefit all people of the Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands," said Bell. "I would like to recognize the local elected officials for their leadership and for working collaboratively to advance an islands-wide approach to economic growth and community sustainability."Last September, Queen Charlotte Islands government leaders finalized a common set of economic development priorities and an islands-wide economic development approach in an economic development accord (EDA). The group has set up the Misty Isles Economic Development Society to accomplish the priorities specified in the EDA. The Province's $500,000 contribution is going directly toward achieving the goals set out in the EDA."I would like to thank the Province for its support and commitment towards the creation of the Misty Isles Economic Development Society," said Port Mayor and Misty Isles Economic Development Society chair Cory Delves. "The need for an economic development body was one of three main items presented to the government by the three island mayors and the two electoral area directors. This funding will help us create opportunities within our individual communities and will enable us to work with the Haida communities to create opportunities for the islands."In addition to creating an economic development office, the funding will be used for general support of the key recommendations of the EDA. Additional recommendations include investigating opportunities provided by containerization at the Prince Rupert port and a resource study of agricultural and non-traditional forest product sectors."The economic development office will help the community broaden economic development initiatives and look beyond just forestry," said Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen, who was not present in Queen Charlotte. "Forestry is still important to the people and the economy of the islands. Today we are providing the community with the investment needed to explore new opportunities and stimulate new economic growth in the islands."The principle objectives of the EDA are to: Revitalize the economy of the islandsOrganize, promote and obtain community support as well as provincial and federal government support for the priorities and initiatives proposed under the accordPreserve and enhance the unique environmental, heritage and other qualities and values of the islands that are important to the community.The EDA was developed in parallel with the Strategic Land Use Agreement (SLUA) announced by the Province and the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) in December and is the result of a community viability study commissioned by the Province in 2005. These agreements allow for sustainable economic development opportunities and will build a better B.C. for the benefit of all British Columbians.