Chambers looking for marketing money

Parksville has kicked in; no decision yet from Qualicum Beach

Armed with a study that highlights the strengths of the Parksville Qualicum Beach region, Kim Burden now wants some money to market ideas that could bring more young families and jobs to the area.

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce CEO has been visiting various councils in the past week as he tries to match funds and get to the $60,000 budget number needed to implement the suggestions of a study completed in December of 2012 by Vann Struth Consulting Group.

Burden told Qualicum Beach town council he can secure $30,000 from the Vancouver Island Economic Trust provided those funds are matched — $10,000 each — by the Regional District of Nanaimo, the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach. Burden got the $10,000 commitment from Parksville last week and was asking for the same from Qualicum Beach on Monday night.

Burden said attracting more business and bringing more young families to the region would be a benefit for local municipalities as they constantly face challenges meeting infrastructure needs. He has already been meeting with groups of people from other countries who may be interested in starting new enterprises or buying existing businesses in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

The Vann Struth study suggested the region should target what it called “lifestyle entrepreneurs.” The study said the region’s advantages included a good fibre-optic backbone and a well-educated and diversified mix of skills among the working-age population.

In the end, town council deferred the request, asking staff to report back on where the $10,000 would come from and how this effort may or may not duplicate what the town is already doing, chiefly through the efforts of cultural consultant Patricia Huntsman.

“This is not new,” said Coun. Mary Brouilette. “It’s not like we haven’t been here before. You’ll have to forgive a little skepticism here but we’re talking about taxpayers’ dollars.”

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said he was concerned the momentum of Huntsman’s work could be slowed if money  was diverted from her efforts to this chamber-backed marketing plan.

“I wouldn’t want to be taking funds away from something that’s just getting off the ground,” said Luchtmeijer.

Mayor Teunis Westbroek agreed the town has to look at how this will effect budgets and the on-going efforts by Huntsman to attract new business and young families to Qualicum Beach, but he did speak in favour of giving Burden the $10,000.

“I think it has merit,” said Westbroek. “I have confidence the project will give results.”