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Regional directors ponder prospect of establishing an economic development service

Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Director Michael Brydon presented a director's motion to reintroduce an economic development service at last week's boart meeting.
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February 13, 2015 - 11:59 AM

PENTICTON - A perennial request for grant money has one regional director advocating a policy change.

West Bench director Michael Brydon introduced a director’s motion to reactivate a regional economic development service at the regional district board meeting last week.

The motion came about following a meeting in which Okanagan Film Commission Commissioner Jon Summerland made his annual presentation to the board as part of a request for annual grant funding.

Brydon said historically, annual grants to the Okanagan Film Commission came out of the general government budget under a line item called grants in aid.

‘It’s there every year, and to me that doesn’t seem very transparent,” Brydon said.

Brydon looked upon his motion as a bookkeeping exercise, in order to “call it what it is”.

He said the regional district used to have an economic development line item for many years which wasn’t funded, but has since lapsed.

“My motion is that we re-activate that budget," Brydon said.

“I don’t think it’s controversial, we’ve had very few complaints about it. Make it what it is, if we do get some great ideas for regional economic development, then we’ve got the budget,” he said.

Penticton Director Andrew Jakubeit pointed to the need to have the region’s economic directors get together to help steer economic development. He said traditionally the board set necessary money aside while trying to figure out what was best for economic development but couldn't come to a consensus.

He said the region’s economic directors would collectively have a better pulse on economic opportunities than the directors.

Brydon pointed out the board hadn’t had an official economic development service for years, yet was still doing economic development. He said he wasn’t suggesting funding the budget, just having the service available.

“Then, if something like the film commission makes sense, instead of putting $34,000 into general government, we put $34,000 into economic development," he said. "The bottom line is, the budget doesn’t change at all, it’s just more transparent.”

Brydon said he wants the city to be able to provide funding in a transparent manner, rather than sliding it in as a grant in aid, which he said isn’t quite legitimate.

Brydon’s motion — to reactivate a regional economic development service — will be investigated by staff for future discussion by the board, prior to adoption of this year’s budget.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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