Southern Gulf Islands
Community Economic Sustainability Commission Initiatives
The Economic Development Commission has been exploring a variety of new financing models to fund sustainable economic development in the Southern Gulf Islands. Not having to rely on government funding is paramount to creating a resilient, self-sustaining economy
One option under review would be to set up a “hybrid” corporation under new BC provincial legislation. Such corporations, called community contribution companies, would be structured to combine benefits to the community with limited investor returns. According to the Province, “These companies would allow an alternative business model not currently available through a regular business, whose primary focus is making money for shareholders….” The enabling legislation passed last year, and the Province expects to release detailed regulations for hybrid corporations before the end of the year.
Another option would be to establish a “community investment fund” modeled on a well-established financial vehicle used in Nova Scotia. The Greater Victoria-based Community Social Planning Council is currently working to establish such an investment fund, and they are open to working with the Southern Gulf Islands. It would also be possible to establish an islands-only version of a community investment fund, perhaps in partnership with Island Savings Credit Union, which has established a branch on Pender Island.
The CESC is looking for a “champion” with the experience and knowledge to take the lead in navigating one or both of these finance models, or others, through regulatory requirements. The CESC believes that residents and property owners on the Southern Gulf Islands who have personal funds to invest will be interested in these and other “socially responsible investments” that would benefit their own communities.
In the meantime, Gulf Island residents are encouraged to support local businesses by buying locally whenever possible. The EDC supports “buy local” campaigns organized by Chambers of Commerce on the islands.