City of Powell River has been approved for two new planning projects, under the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s (ICET) economic development readiness program, to help maximize economic potential of city-owned property and develop a new investment attraction tool.
According to a media release, the city has been transitioning from its traditional resource-sector roots and, alongside this evolution, seeking new and innovative ways to strengthen and grow the economy and attract younger residents. The first project, a comprehensive land strategy, will develop a plan to address investment and redevelopment potential for a large number of vacant or underused properties. The second project seeks to develop a modernized approach and tools required to attract new residents to the city, particularly in light of anticipated migration and remote work trends due to COVID-19.
“The property analysis strategy will enable Powell River to assess new prospects for partnership and redevelopment,” stated ICET board chair Josie Osborne in the media release. “It also comes on the heels of two previous ICET-supported projects that are supporting the growing tech and creative sectors. Together these projects will drive more environmentally-sustainable economic diversification in the region.”
The media release stated that the land strategy will examine current use and future opportunities for properties identified as having economic development potential. A thorough review and refinement of land inventory will be carried out, followed by identification of short, medium and longer-term redevelopment and disposition sites and, finally, an analysis (on select sites) on the highest and best use of the property. Creation of the strategy and action plan will involve consultation with local stakeholder groups and the general public, as well as internal municipal departments, according to the release.
The second ICET-supported project, a new investment attraction research and strategy, will build on the success of a previous 2014 resident attraction marketing campaign, which saw a rise in both real estate sales and construction starts, according to the release. The project will capitalize on growing remote working trends by redefining target markets, messaging and tools to reach its audience most effectively. A new marketing strategy with implementation roadmap, a new website with updated content and technology and a rebuild of social media tools are all expected. This strategy aligns and builds upon substantial progress and work the city has been doing to create new baselines for higher value remote worker and entrepreneur attraction, according to the media release.
“Our original campaign did a great job of attracting new residents to the community who have either brought their jobs or small businesses with them and spurred unprecedented levels of construction in the community,” stated mayor Dave Formosa. “It’s been six years since it was launched, so it is now time to build a new strategy, tools and messaging for the campaign to keep the momentum going, especially in these uncertain times.”
Director of properties, development and communications Scott Randolph stated that inorder to continue to diversify its economy and improve quality of life for all residents, the city needs clear direction on the future development of its surplus lands, whether it be investment in new business development or affordable housing.
“Through professional analysis and public consultation, this strategy will provide the city with a road map to achieving these goals,” stated Randolph.
"The city is really thankful for the support of the Island Coastal Economic Trust board and staff in agreeing to fund both of these projects. The trust has been very supportive of this community over the years and here they are again at the table, working with us to ensure Powell River has a resilient and strong economic future."
Both projects are expected to get underway shortly.