Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond has said ‘no’ to the idea of topping up the Island Coastal Economic Trust fund, a response sure to put a damper on the ICET’s celebration of 10 years leveraging economic development on Vancouver Island.
“Twenty-sixteen is the tenth anniversary of ICET’s founding, and looking back over the nearly $50 million in investments we’ve made, it’s amazing to see the impact on communities,” Duncan Mayor and ICET Chair Phil Kent said in an announcement of the organizations 10th Annual Report.
“ICET funding has helped to create new jobs, develop new revenue streams, and diversify the economy. We are very grateful to the Province of BC for their vision in creating the model and their trust in our communities, enabling us to set our own priorities and take ownership of our future.”
But with $49.6 million of the original trust funding already spent, the ICET’s benefits will stop flowing soon unless its bank account can be replenished. On Monday Bond shut the door on any hopes the province will kick in more money.
“The Island Coastal Economic Trust, like the province’s other regional trusts, was established with a one-time grant opportunity to be used as the Board determined most appropriate for the regions and communities it serves,” Bond said in a response emailed to the Chronicle Monday, Aug. 22.
“We recognize the great work ICET has done in the ten years since it was established and the Board should be proud of its achievements. At this time there are no plans to provide additional funding for ICET beyond the original, one-time funding of $50 million allocated in 2006.”
To date money plowed back into communities has leveraged $4.61 new dollars for every ICET dollar invested – more the $228 million. The money has helped get more than 160 projects in 60 communities off the drawing boards, creating 2,570 short term construction jobs and 2,595 post completion jobs.
But getting to yes would have meant convincing the province that there was a justification for the different financial model that was adopted here from two other trusts that received funding similar to ICET – The Northern Development Initiative Trust and The Southern Development Interior Trust.
Both those still have money in the bank because they have been operating under self-financing models, providing loans, or finding other sources to replenish their original trust funding.
Local government decision-makers at the ICET table decided that the need for infrastructure funding was more urgent here.
“There was an accumulated backlog of infrastructure that needed to be built,” Robert said. “The money needed to be invested very quickly.”