March 25, 2020: The streets of downtown Victoria are quieter than usual in the wake of physical isolation mandates from the provincial and federal governments due to COVID-19. (Arnold Lim / Black Press Media)

South Island leaders form taskforce to address economic crisis amidst COVID-19

Rising Economy Taskforce to address economic crisis and resiliency

South Island leaders from local government, businesses, institutions and nonprofits are coming together to address the ongoing major economic downturn in the region.

The Rising Economy Taskforce, convened by the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP), was created to develop a strong and coordinated region-wide response to the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South Island Prosperity Partnership is an alliance of more than 60 public and private sector partners in Greater Victoria. In a statement, the partnership said it views a multi-stakeholder approach as “essential to developing a coordinated economic recovery strategy.” The approach is also helpful to move forward plans to create economic resiliency in the region as a precaution against future crises.

According to Emilie de Rosenroll, SIPP chief official, the task force will focus on supporting relief and recovery efforts and will explore what is needed for longer-term economic resilience.

READ ALSO: Economic impact of COVID-19 on Victoria’s tourism industry will be ‘devastating,’ experts say

“While things may still get worse before they get better, our region must start planning immediately if we want to see the vibrancy return to our economy,” de Rosenroll said in a statement. “The south Island is collaborative – as a result, we can come together to ensure that when the recovery begins, we rebound as quickly as possible. By coming together now, we can use this crisis as a platform for future prosperity.”

The task force will provide guidance and gather input to inform a recovery strategy with some preliminary actions such as conducting a business impact assessment and evaluating demand for a business recovery centre. Impact on key economic assets will also be measured. Additionally, the task force will assess employment issues and explore business transitions and new emerging opportunities.

Members of the task force include leaders from Thrifty Foods, Accent Inns, Wilson Group, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Destination Greater Victoria, the Canadian Migration Institute, Jawl Properties, the University of Victoria, Shop Local YYJ, the Westshore Chamber of Commerce, the Victoria Foundation, Vancity, Esri Canada and MNP.

READ ALSO: Stats Canada expects COVID-19 to impact inflation

Other leaders include Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, entrepreneur Rasool Rayani, CRD Board Chair Colin Plant, Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean, Colwood Coun. Doug Kobayashi, Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries and Esquimalt Coun. Ken Armour.

Thrifty Foods vice president of operations Ralf Mundel said the task force is a “crucial initiative.”

“We know the Rising Economy Taskforce will be effective and engaging as we create relief, recovery and resilience in our new economy,” Mundel said.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


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