The Town of Sidney earned one of a half-dozen 2015 Open for Business awards at last month’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference.
The award credits the recipient for having done the most to encourage and facilitate a thriving business community. Now, the Town will use that as a springboard for its new Economic Development Commission.
“We worked very hard to earn that award,” said Mayor Steve Price. “It’s really an acknowledgment of the work of a lot of people, right across the community and their commitment to making Sidney a good place to do business.”
But Price and the business community do not intend to rest on its laurels.
“We’re going to use the $10,000 prize that goes along with the award to help with the newly formed Economic Development Commission,” he said. “That’s another new initiative that we’re very excited about and the prize money will give them a bit of a leg up in being able to accomplish their work.”
The Commission was established by council as an outflow of the Mayor’s Downtown Revitalization Task Force — a task force that reached out to the business community for new ideas on improving Sidney’s business environment.
“The task force came up with all these great ideas, but now we need someone to prioritize those recommendations and find a way to put the best of them into action,” explained Price.
The commission won’t just be bound to ideas that have already come forward.
“We have a great group of people who will be charged with thinking outside the box … to be imaginative and innovative.”
It’s a sentiment that’s shared by one of the newly formed Commission’s members, Brad Edgett.
He served on the Mayor’s Task Force and is the Executive Director of the Mary Winspear Centre. They, according to Edgett, drove about $10 million into Sidney’s economy last year.
“We did what we could to increase our numbers. We booked bigger acts and managed to draw people into Sidney from all over. They were coming from Langford and beyond and while they were here they saw what a great place Sidney is.”
Edgett said he sees business in Sidney as strong and getting stronger.
“Look at what’s happening at Viking Air now where they’ve signed some new contracts … and the other big players are doing well too.”
But Edgett acknowledges it is small business that can drive the Town’s economy to greater success.
“There are a lot of people out there with great ideas. They needed a central location to come with those ideas, though, and get some help and advice to help make them come to pass.”
Edgett will join the following group of concerned citizens who have also been named to the Commission:
• David Rogers – Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
• Robin Richardson – West Sidney Industrial Group.
• Members at large Chris Cowland, Jane Hall, Geri Byrne, David Calveley, Douglas Laurie and Julie Sneddon.
“I take the work of this Commission very seriously,” said Edgett. “It’s not something that I take lightly. I’m committed to making a difference. We all are.”
The Commission’s first meeting is scheduled for later this month. More information on its work can be found at sidney.ca.
by Tim Collins, News contributor