Area E's commitment keeps regional economic development afloat for another year

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
December 22nd, 2010

Tension between directors was put aside last week as the Boundary Economic Development committee (BEDC) went on the road to Greenwood. With Regional Director for Area E, Bill Baird’s announcement that his area will continue to participate with the committee in 2011, they can now set their sights on next year’s work plan.  In November the committee dealt with challenges from Grand Forks city council and Baird. Grand Forks council’s concerns were addressed by the committee, but Baird was uncertain that he would be participating at the regional table in 2011. With his renewed commitment, staff and the committee can now focus on their current and future projects and set budgets.  “When we have a look at the budget then we need to keep in mind that Bill is saying he’s in for a year. That means that any projects that we identify down the road need to be finished and complete in one year and that kind of cripples us a little bit,” said BEDC Chair Grace McGregor. “We’ll need to pay attention to that. A lot of the things that we’ve done have been ongoing and they have spilled over.”  McGregor had the committee review current BEDC projects for those in attendance. The regional chamber project, headed by Community Futures Boundary, is on target and will be operational in April of 2011. While the agriculture plan, overseen by Director Irene Perepolkin, is about six months behind schedule, she is confident that it will be ready for the end of January although they have had repeated problems with their consultant.  “We had a telephone conference with (members of the area agriculture committee) to discuss the strategies that we should look at in the event that the plan doesn’t meet the minimum requirements put out in the RFP,” said Perepolkin. They are prepared to wait and see the next draft of the plan from consultant James Calissi. “We will press him to produce the best possible product we can from him.”  The Kettle River Watershed Committee has posted the tender for a consultant to prepare a watershed study and the process is moving forward.  The BEDC has applied to the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition for two projects: the funding of an agriculture development officer proposed by the agriculture plan, and support for the regional chamber project.  Work on other projects continues including upgrades to the Boundary website, branding, and the development of a welcome centre in Rock Creek.  “We’ve been working on this for years. We’ve just been having a real problem with access (from the highway) for any property in the area,” said Baird. “We think we have a solution where we can get some equipment in there and remove some material and hopefully, if we can get that done, we can get permission for an access road.”

Giving an opportunity for public participation, the BEDC and their contracted staff from Community Futures Boundary met at the Pacific Grill on Dec. 14 and is planning future meetings in the West Boundary.