Central Saanich 10th safest among communities its size

Council considers Economic Development survey results

Member of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) Elaine Gallagher presented to the District of Central Saanich a summary of the survey results which showed council where they could turn their minds to in terms of economic development activity in Central Saanich.

EDAC was set up by council about a year and a half ago with its first meeting held in June 2015.

The committee met six times between June 2015 and June 2016, and had 12 people who were active in the process. Their mandate was to determine what an economic development function might be for Central Saanich.

The committee members reviewed the terms of reference and completed a survey similar to a SWAT analysis.

They heard a presentation from Stantec Consulting regarding the Keating Business Corridor Analysis and reviewed a demographic profile of the municipality which Gallagher put together.

“We condensed and prioritized the survey responses and had initially 59 different categories or items, reduced those to 33 and clustered them into seven categories,” said Gallagher at Monday night’s meeting.

They then went through a ranking process of the items and discussed the next steps for the committee and prepared the report.

Gallagher presented some of the highlights from the demographic report that were useful. Fifty-nine per cent of the District is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, which is higher than other municipalities. The district was also ranked the 10th safest municipality in Canada in communities of more than 10,000 which she said is a pretty important feature of where they live.

The total population of Central Saanich in 2011, which was the last census year they had data for, was a population of 15,900 people, 98 per cent of those being Canadian citizens.

Gallagher said 22 per cent of the people here were 65 and over compared with only 15 per cent in Canada, so they’re looking at a slightly older population here.

The initial survey results which were condensed into seven categories were not prioritized as they were all deemed to be important.

The categories included overarching principles of economic development in Central Saanich, tourism, transportation, core commercial industrial areas, agriculture, image of our planning department for municipal processes and communications.

Under each of those categories were key points.

Overarching principles of Economic Development in Central Saanich:

Some of the key points included undertaking a business retention and expansion program, and understanding the implication of some of the changing demographics and what they might mean for the future of the region.

Image of our planning department for municipal processes,

They felt that it was important to continue to encourage a good customer service model for municipal staff.

Tourism:

The committee thought about developing a marketing strategy and a distinctive brand for Central Saanich.

“People felt there wasn’t a clear sense of who we are and what we actually stand for, and what’s distinctly unique about Central Saanich,” said Gallagher.

She said creating a distinctive welcome to Central Saanich signage that’s clear and universal, highlighting local attractions could be created.

“We have some wonderful resources here which really could attract people and does,” she said.

Transportation:

Gallagher talked about continuing to advocate for safe and effective access off Pat Bay highway, which, she said, is an ongoing issue.

She also mentioned continuing to improve pedestrian and cycling routes.

Core Commercial and Industrial areas:

The committee wants to continue to support the revitalization of Keating. They also want to create an inventory of existing business types and identify some gaps of where certain complimentary industries might be encouraged to set up shop that would compliment the aviation industry and other forms of industry that are already here.

Agriculture:

They want to encourage food production and value added food processing.

“We do a lot of producing of food here but not so much the food processing. We often send the food out,” said Gallagher.

Communications:

Overall they thought improvement of the municipal website and initiating the use of social media could be improved.

The committee’s proposed next steps will be to present an interim report to council and address council questions or concerns arising from the report.

The committee will examine the terms of reference and activities of other standing committees to identify how they relate to other standing committees.

They would also like to survey businesses in major commercial areas and thought about conducting a business walk to go around and meet with business leaders in the community.

They wish to prepare a terms of reference and goals and activities for a standing EDAC or Economic Advisory Committee.

The committee hopes to create a final report to include a proposed future mandate of the committee for presentation to council.

The mandate of the current appointees is until the end of December.