The initial steps toward developing economic development for the City of Greenwood took place at a meeting last week when seven members of the Greenwood Board of Trade (BOT) and Mayor Nipper Kettle sat down to brainstorm economic development ideas.
Establishing an economic development committee has been a topic at city council meetings over the summer and the BOT devoted their entire September meeting agenda to the issue.
Kettle told the BOT he has invited Grand Forks resident Alan Cooper to attend to share his experiences working on a similar project in Grand Forks.
BOT President Jim Nathorst said the terms of reference of the committee would be hammered at the founding meeting.
BOT member Jeff Fraser suggested getting input from other places that have had success.
It is hoped that other organizations both inside and outside the city will participate should a committee be formed. Names that were suggested for invitation included the Greenwood Museum, The Greenwood Improvement Society, Community Futures Boundary and the regional district.
In preparation for future meetings BOT members brainstormed what they would like to see done to foster economic development.
The first topic that was brought up was unsightly premises.
Jeff and Colleen Fraser had just returned from a seven-week road trip across the continent and reported Greenwood as one of the least appealing communities they had seen.
Kettle said he would like council to agree to enforce unsightly premises bylaws by cleaning the properties up and charging costs to the property owner.
Another suggestion was to take advantage of the regional district tipping fee waiver policy to partner with a nonprofit organization so that fixed-income or financially strapped residents can get past the cost hurdle that a major cleanup would present.
Jeff pointed out that it was unlikely that a General Motors plant or sawmill would be built in the city so development has to focus on tourism.
The Frasers said the tourist community of Baddeck, N.S. stood out as a town where a spirit of pride of ownership is fostered. “Every lawn is mowed, flowers planted and it looks inviting,” said Colleen.
Kettle was encouraged by the support he received from the BOT members for his proposal now before council to limit the size of For Sale signage in the community.
Another suggestion was establishing a bylaw to encourage building owners to not leave buildings empty. It was reported that Rossland had a bylaw that assesses vacant buildings at a higher property tax rate.
Those in attendance also supported a revitalization tax exemption bylaw. Such a measure that would exempt property tax increases on commercial properties for a few years after the owner invests in eligible improvements.
Nathorst said he had seen the program work in Victoria. “It doesn’t really cost anyone anything, because that tax money would be foregone without the development anyway.”
It was suggested that the city campground be posted as free, with additional signage directing those who want hook-up to local motels providing the service.
It was proposed that heritage tourism be nurtured to take advantage of this valuable competitive advantage that Greenwood enjoys.
Other suggestions included the installation of speed reader boards to slow traffic down, promotion of industrial properties and the West Kootenay Power building, putting in heritage streetlights, finding ways to encourage younger families to move to the community and capitalize on the Berkeley Springs water tasting award.
A meeting has been set for Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in council chambers for the BOT and council to discuss establishment of an economic development committee for the City of Greenwood.