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Incubating the future

Parksville Qualicum Beach School District 69, town talking about KSS space

If they built it, would they come?

Momentum seems to be growing for a business incubator in Qualicum Beach, a high-tech haven possible situated in empty space at Kwalikum Senior Secondary.

The board of trustees for School District 69 discussed the possibility at length at their regular board meeting last week. While it's early days and board members said they have many unanswered concerns, they did pass a motion allowing senior district staff to study the costs and benefits further.

Acting Supt. Rollie Koop told the board part of KSS could become a "hub of activity" for digital media enterprises.

"Ultimately, it could get to a place where we might be launching businesses from that place," said Koop, adding that the Town of Qualicum Beach sees it as an opportunity to"create an environment that would be more attractive to young families."

Seconding a chunk of KSS for this venture would take an unique partnership between the town, the school district and private enterprise, said Koop.

"I think this is a project of merit," said Koop, who said he had some concerns about some "aggressive" timelines being thrown around by some for the start of the incubator. "The trick is going to be making this a non-cost item for the district."

While they unanimously voted to pursue the idea further, trustees had their concerns.

"I'm not really interested in our students working in a call centre," said trustee Barry Kurland. "I think we will have a chance further down to approve it or not."

“It’s at the preliminary stage but I’m excited to see where it goes,” said trustee Julie Austiin.

“It sounds very exciting but there are some risks,” said trustee Ross Milligan, acting as chair for the meeting in the absence of trustee Lynette Kershaw.

Koop said staff will now dig into the details and report back to the board at a future meeting, not likely until September.