By Roy L Hales
When the Cortes Island Business and Tourism Association (CIBATA) was launched, it faced some tough challenges. Some believe Cortes is still stuck in the seventies and many residents would like to preserve that. Yet there is a need for the same business sectors you find everywhere else: retail, health, building and trades, tourism medical marijuana, aquaculture, learning / professional development and social profit. On February 24, CIBATA will be unveiling the draft of Cortes Island’s Local Economic Action Plan at the Klahoose Multipurpose Building, between 10 AM and 4 PM. In this morning’s program the association’s President, Colin Funk, talks about economic development while preserving Cortes’ core values.
Economic Development While Preserving Cortes’ Core Values
Does Cortes want to continue extracting resources: logging? aquaculture?
Are we looking at more homegrown products: The marijuana industry? Working online? bike paths? Shared Workplaces? Are their unique opportunities with the seniors population?
CIBATA provides much of the insight that most communities obtain through their community development department or chamber of commerce.
“Our whole mission and mandate is really around making this a wonderful place to live through sustainable endeavours … All of our members, and in particular our directors, are very concerned and feel that ecological integrity must be the baseline for these human activities … Many members of our group are big picture thinkers. They are thinking about not just what is happening on island, but how we are connected to other islands, how we are connected to the province and the Federal Government,“ says Funk.
He added, “When you have a small community like this, you get feedback about what is needed very quickly. You see what is needed; you hear stories in the grocery store, on the beach and at a community event … We don’t need big studies. What we do need sometimes is expert knowledge … What are the best practises?”
What We Want & What Has Worked Elsewhere
Funk describes development planning as a conversation “drawing upon the pulse of what is needed on a grass roots level,” as well as looking at what has worked on Quadra Island, Hornby Island, Dawson City and even other parts of the planet.
“I wouldn’t say that there is a place, but there are parts that we draw from. You know there are innovative communities that are not in a coastal situation that I am curious about. The far north is a really interesting model to look at, because people really have to connect in order to survive and what flourishes there is a lot of great cultural activities and even an interesting entrepreneurial business attitude. Community development; taking care of each other,” he said.
How do you build synergy with the many non-profits and charities already operating on Cortes?
“The really neat thing about Cortes citizens is they travel a lot. This time of the year people are about in the world, coming back with all sorts of interesting stories. So the more we can get this community to talk and to learn about our travels, where we are going, We can create a really interesting adaption of what we have here and what are some really great practises.”
One of the initiatives CIBATA is experimenting with is a conversation coffee format, the “Cortes Idea Bank.”
Another is the learning lunches at the Co-Op, where one or two local businesses usually talk about their sector and speakers from off island are often invited to share insights.
Prior to coming to Cortes, Funk devoted many years to the challenges that industrial tourism brought to the parks Canada mandate of Banff, Alberta.
He talks about these ideas, how other communities struggling with these issues, Cortes institutions like Hollyhock, Linnaea Farm, FOCI and much more in the podcast above.
Steering Committee Meetings
The Local Economic Action Plan’s steering committee meets, in the Pioneer Room at Manson’s Hall, every fourth Wednesday of the month.
Meetings are open to all residents in a gallery setting. Public presentations are invited, and will be received at the beginning of the meeting. If you wish to attend, please provide courtesy notification to the chair Adam Schick. Adam can be contacted via Email.”
Two audio clips from CIBATA’s video “Our Cortes” were used in the podcast above.
Top Photo Credit: The Leap Steering Committee: (Front row, l to r) Romina Wendell, Helen Hall (LEAP Coordinator), Colin Funk (President of CIBATA), Eric Hargrave (LEAP Vice Chair), Adam Schick (LEAP Chair) Noba Anderson (Strathcona Regional Director for Cortes Island) Baby Zyla; (Back row) Daniel Arbour (LEAP Consultant), Bill Dougan, Dave Nikleva, Fred Savage, Terry Story, Georgina Silby – courtesy CIBATA