It’s time to work as a team and not as competitors, says a Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) director.
On Tuesday (Jan. 15), Area D director Moe Freitag and regional representatives joined the District of Squamish’s Economic Development Standing Committee to talk about economic challenges and possible synergies. Crowded around a packed table, Freitag said historically, communities such as Squamish and Britannia Beach have viewed each other as competition. The first step toward growth starts with a mental shift, Freitag said.
“We are not your competition, we are actually your partner,” he said.
Tourism topped the mind of SLRD Area A director Debbie Demare. Although the northern part of the region — from Pemberton to Lillooet — faces tough economic challenges linked to the decline of forestry, the area is quickly becoming the outdoor playground for Sea to Sky Corridor residents.
“What we determined is the vast majority of traffic comes from the Sea to Sky Corridor or the Lower Mainland,” Demare said.
Area A officials are focusing on winter tourism, such as snowmobiling, ski touring and heli-skiing. With collaboration between governments, tourism can grow, she said, noting the corridor has an abundance of activities and a resort in the middle of it.
“I really, really believe there are opportunities out there to market this entire strip worldwide,” Demare said, adding that individually, municipalities can’t fully capitalize on this opportunity.
The condition of the Hurley River Road needs to be addressed if leaders hope to boost tourism, she said. The forest service road needs to be maintained, Demare said. It’s been a struggle to get the provincial government to see the road’s importance, she said.
“They don’t want to recognize the Hurley River Road because that adds to their budget,” Demare said.
Pemberton is still trying to identify what its future holds, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said, noting the community has a little bit of everything from tourism to agriculture and forestry. Pemberton is on track to re-start the Pemberton Festival, a two-day musical event that took place in 2008, Sturdy said, noting he expects something similar to kick off in 2014.
The province is pushing for cohesion throughout industries, said Greg Goodwin, the executive director of the provincial Economic Development Division’s Regional Economic Policy and Projects Branch.
“We really encourage a regional approach, or sub-regional approach, to economic development,” he said, noting the provincial government can help by providing support and services.