Community economic development takes collaboration

By Keri Sculland

When thinking of community economic as a whole, it is important to realize the topic covers more than just businesses and merchants.

In order to have a healthy and sustainable economy, the community must meet requirements for available housing for staff to live in, adequate childcare so parents can work, a good healthcare system to treat people when they are sick and injured, and more.

The Golden Community Social Services Cooperative was chosen to take on a community economic development role by the Town of Golden, and they are stepping up to the plate. The coop is a collaboration between the Golden Community Resources Society, Golden Family Center Society, Golden Women’s Resource Centre Society, and the Golden Food Bank Society. All of these programs work together to make Golden a better place to live.

READ MORE: Golden Social Services Coop takes on economic development

“People’s definition of what economic development is, and what community economic development is, is so broad and vast,” said Golden Community Social Services Cooperative executive director Jill Dewtie. “It’s really, really exciting to have a collaborative coop organization leading the charge.”

The coop governance model has been evolving in the community, and Dewtie says the timing of the opportunity to host community economic development has worked out perfectly.

Working with the Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Golden, Wildsight, Golden Farmers’ Market, Local Food Matters, youth groups, and health and education initiatives, the coop already works with many groups in Golden that would benefit economic development.

The Columbia Basin Trust and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and Town of Golden economic opportunity fund has provided the money over three years to support a community economic development function in Golden.

“It all actually really aligned organically,” Dewtie said, adding that when the coop receives funding for initiatives like this, they are able to leverage it for more projects.

The coop has already applied for funds to do community economic development strategizing and branding.

“It’s a smart way to bring money into the community,” she added.

Keeping in line with work already underway at the coop, Dewtie says initiatives and programs like childcare and promoting positive housing will assist in economic development growth in Golden.

“People are feeling the vulnerability of childcare,” she said.

The coop currently has a child care needs survey on their website, www.goldensocialservicescoop.com, for people in the community to fill out. This survey will assist the coop in identifying the childcare needs and concerns in Golden. Creating more accessible childcare in Golden would help parents get back to work sooner.

“It’s not just about childcare, it’s about a whole lot of community dynamics,” Dewtie said.

With the Kicking Horse Canyon Project slated to begin in spring 2020, more jobs will open in Golden, and more workers means more housing will be needed. Community stakeholders are working with the province to ensure Golden benefits from the project, and Dewtie said the coop is pushing for the contractor to work with the coop, BC Housing, and Columbia Basin Trust to develop housing units that could be used by the community after the completion of the project.

“It has an economic impact on us; it has a social impact on us,” she said.

The Golden Community Social Services Coop will have until the end of March, 2020, to develop a working plan and implement the position. Beforehand, they will also require a change to their governance to ensure economic opportunities in the community are fully represented.

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