By Kelsey Verboom
Until now, the Kootenay-Boundary area has lacked a comprehensive, region-wide land inventory to help with planning economic growth and future development.
Thanks to a new program called the Basin-Boundary Employment Lands Inventory Project, that is all about to change.
The newly-launched project will gather information about and create an inventory of regional land labelled as “employment lands.”
Essentially, employment lands are lands that generate economic wealth. They include agricultural lands; lands zoned or designated for heavy industry, light industry and commercial (non-retail); First Nations designated employment lands; brown and greyfield sites (land that is underused or requires remediation); and Crown lands available for development.
Once inventoried, the data will be used to bring together stakeholders who will collaborate with the goal of creating better regional planning when it comes to economic growth.
“A better understanding of the availability and type of employment lands will help the region to retain and attract businesses and investment,” said Rob Gay, General Manager of Community Futures East Kootenay, the lead organization on the project.
“This information is a key tool to ensuring economic growth, and helping to create and retain jobs.”
Diana Brooks, Regional Manager of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, said the ministry is excited the project is moving forward.
“The role of the ministry is to support job creation and investment attraction, and to help build investment-readiness in the region. From an economic development perspective, this project will provide valuable information to the region as a whole.”
Over 30 municipalities, regional districts and tribal nation councils will be invited to share data and participate in the project.
In the long-term, the inventory is expected to build relationships and help make the region more attractive to investors, while building business retention and expansion and helping communities make more informed planning decisions.
The project is supported by a broad range of partners, including Community Futures of East Kootenay, Kootenay Association for Science and Technology, the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation and the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College. The project is funded by the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition, Community Futures East Kootenay and the Columbia Basin Trust.