Are we ready for growth?

Partnership between development institute and city aims to prepare for the anticipated boom of activity

The Community Development Institution (CDI) is seeking out a partnership with the City of Terrace to develop strategies to prepare for the anticipated boom of activity.

In a presentation to council and members of the public earlier this month, Greg Halseth and Marlene Morris of CDI said the group wants to help the city deal with the stresses it has been under, including housing.

The CDI’s proposed Dialogues on Readiness is a research-based project that will look to develop strategies and solutions to the stresses that new industry puts on a community. The aim is to try and alleviate the stretch marks of a booming population.

Morris explained that it’s important to prepare for both the construction and the operational phases of new industry developments.

She said the construction phases typically last five years, but thousands of construction workers are expected and local businesses and social resources are inevitably impacted, however this only lasts a short while.

Operational phases, on the other hand, last 30 or more years after the initial boom and it’s important to be prepared for that.

Halseth said this proposal is vital because it looks to the future and it asks the question: “who are we now, and who do we want to become?”

“I think housing alone has brought together all the sectors recognizing that it’s impacting local businesses, it’s impacting economic development and social services,” Councillor Tyers said, “I think now is a really good time to move forward on this and I’m actually really excited.”

The CDI looked at four communities including Terrace, Prince Rupert, Prince George and Kitimat and they narrowed in on the oil and gas sector. Thirteen factors were examined that have impacts on the community readiness including housing, recreational services, community and social services, education and transportation.

While this isn’t the only initiative like this in the northwest – there are currently three such as the Northwest Regional Economic Collaborative – Morris said CDI’s project will not repeat the other organizations work.

“We will make sure that we understand what has been done before, who has been involved, that the involvement has been comprehensive and we will fill gaps where there has been gaps, and then move forward and fine tune our project from there,” she said.

Morris said this initiative will “help and support them in planning forward through both the construction phase and in to the operation phase to really develop strategies to take advantage of the opportunities and dealing with the challenges that we know are going to be coming.”

If the partnership is established there should be no cost to the city, Morris said adding that there are expressions of interest from industry organizations to contribute funds.

“We would be looking at a range of industries that have been active in this region,” Morris said.