Golden Social Services Coop to take on economic development

The Town of Golden and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) have agreed to use $150,000 in funding for three years to create an economic development position with the Golden Community Social Services Coop.

The function will oversee economic development in Golden, and will work closely with Town of Golden staff.

Just before winter, Town of Golden Mayor Ron Oszust, CAO Jon Wilsgard, and CSRD Area A director Karen Cathcart said they had been working on a plan to promote economic development, and had discussed the implications at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference, which happens each year in September.

At the August 20 Town council meeting, council approved $150,000 for three years to support an economic development function, which the Golden Social Services Coop will oversee.

The funding comes from the regional economic opportunity fund, which takes both the Town and CSRD’s approval to administer.

The Golden 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.

“There was some discussion about what we’d like the function to look like,” Wilsgard said. “Once we came to that agreement, it was fairly quick, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Economic development roles in Golden have a lengthy history. In November, the Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce requested $45,000 from the economic opportunity fund to identify community priorities and how an economic function could support those priorities, but the request was turned down, since both levels of government were currently working on this endeavor.

Until 2002, the Town of Golden had a paid position for economic development. Then, the Golden Area Community Economic Development Society was formed with annual funding from the Town of Golden and the CSRD. The society changed its name to Golden Area Initiatives, which operated for many years until the Town decided to cease its funding.

The new community economic development function, operated by the Golden Social Services Coop, will work closely with the Town of Golden and the CSRD. Both municipal and regional district governments were pleased to make the agreement, allowing the function to operate outside of their offices.

“I like the fact that it’s arm’s length of local government,” Cathcart said. “I’m excited about it because we haven’t had this function in our community since 2012.”

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