A long-made call to include Salt Spring and the other Gulf Islands in the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) has been answered.
The provincial government announced today that the islands will now be eligible to apply for funding from ICET and be included in other services that ICET provides.
“Expanding the trust’s service area means more small communities will be eligible for funding that will help them grow and thrive, supporting projects such as building new infrastructure, enhancing small-business opportunities or supporting Indigenous economic development,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
Until now, communities in the Capital Regional District were excluded from the ICET service area because the CRD itself is an “urban” area. Juan de Fuca, one of three electoral areas in the CRD, was quietly added to ICET last December, prompting suggestions that occurred because it is part of Premier John Horgan’s riding. Today’s B.C. government press release framed Juan de Fuca’s inclusion as coming into effect along with Salt Spring and the southern Gulf Islands.
Francine Carlin, chair of the Salt Spring Community Economic Development Commission, has long advocated for her island to be included in ICET. She described today’s announcement as “a huge milestone for our community.”
Carlin said, “We now have the ability to take full advantage in applying for government grants that up till now we were excluded from. The inequality has kept us from receiving supports for projects like a regional food hub, village and cultural revitalization, broadband network planning, destination trails and pathways, as well as initiatives including agri-food innovation strategies and green business attraction. We can now have access to larger funding that will ensure COVID economic recovery is prioritized.”
Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, was also pleased.
“ICET has an exceptional 15-year track record for strengthening and diversifying local economies in the region, and I’m delighted that more people and communities will now enjoy the benefits,” he said. “The southern Gulf Islands have been asking for this change for more than 10 years, and I’d like to raise my hands in gratitude to Minister Kahlon for his efforts in making this expansion happen so early in his time as minister.”