In recent weeks, I’ve written about our Town’s budget, and about several important infrastructure projects your municipal leaders will be investing in on your behalf. I have also mentioned a growing ‘parking lot’ of projects and initiatives in which we would like to invest, and at this time, cannot afford to do. Economic development will be a critical success factor in our ability to address these needs. I have some good news for you on that front, and several facts and figures to share with you to help set an economic context.
Here on the Coast, we benchmark our realities and our progress against 14 other regional districts, from the Cowichan Valley to East Kootenay. Among those districts, perhaps unsurprisingly we rank favourably in many categories: we are among the highest in median age and in the percentage of our residents aged 25 to 64 with post-secondary credentials, and highest in terms of immigrant share of population. More dauntingly, we rank lowest in the percentage of our population aged 19 to 29, which might be perceived as related to the need for our younger residents to move elsewhere in search of education and economic opportunities.
A number of factors can help to attract investors to the Coast, to create opportunities for our younger citizens, and indeed for all of us with a stake in Gibsons’ economic success. Your local government has been focusing on improving conditions to ensure businesses can flourish, for example reducing regulations, and streamlining review and approval processes. We are encouraged to see the number of active building sites in town, and equally encouraged by investors who are financing improvements to existing, key local resources such as motels and malls that help encourage visitors to stay and to shop in Gibsons.
In partnership with the Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce and the SCRD, a new and improved information portal (gibsonsanddistrict.ca) is available with valuable, up to date information for anyone wishing to grow their existing business, start a new one or relocate to our community. One important factor highlighted in the site is that the economic area of Gibsons is the most densely populated are of the Coast with over 13,000 people.
Perhaps in time, a vacation here will lead to further population growth, as yet another family moves to the Coast: Gibsons seems to have that sort of magnetic attraction, as many of our newer residents can attest. For new residents, and investors alike, it is important that we all live our town’s vision as “a vibrant, welcoming community with an outstanding quality of life and plentiful cultural and economic opportunities.”
Wayne Rowe, Mayor Town of Gibsons