Many years ago I had the privilege to work on a community economic development project with Ernesto Sirolli. Lessons from that project and from his book Ripples from the Zambezi: Passion Entrepreneurship and the Rebirth of Local Economies, have long resonated. His lifelong passion for empowering entrepreneurs is inspirational and instructional when considering how we provide aid or assistance to countries or to people in our own communities. (more…)
We wrapped up another successful Tour of Industry at the end of January. The Tour is important for many reasons, one of which is because it strengthens the relationship between businesses and the community.
The business/community relationship is not one-sided. The most obvious benefit for the community is that businesses create jobs. The business and employee tax revenue funds essential government programs such as health, education and infrastructure. We would not enjoy a healthy community absent thriving businesses. The kinds of businesses that locate in our area help establish our community identity and sense of place.
It is difficult to measure the ROI of community investment but businesses that expend their time and financial resources for this purpose stand to reap many benefits when they make it a core focus of their overall business philosophy. Companies who have made this investment report the networking has assisted them to find new markets, customers, and potential investors, they have had an easier time attracting employees and retention rates are higher, their customers view them as being more trustworthy, honest and stable and they experience increased familiarity with their brand. Perhaps most importantly, over time, this investment will increase revenue. With respect to the businesses on the Saanich Peninsula operating internationally, your community members may not be purchasing your product but they will be interested in your opinions, perspectives and expertise and you will benefit from community feedback and support. Competitors can imitate your product or service but they cannot replicate your community.
How can you invest in your community? I have a few suggestions: take out or renew your Chamber membership, sponsor an event, establish an employee volunteer program, participate in our Tour of Industry, nominate your business for a Crystal Award for Business Excellence, support a local charity or share your expertise with new entrepreneurs. Being a good community member is not something that can be done sporadically but rather is something that needs to be done consistently and visibly.
The reports of the demise of Sidney’s downtown as a result of mall development on the Saanich Peninsula are greatly exaggerated. Why I say that with confidence is because downtown Sidney presently embodies the most important elements of a healthy and prosperous community. Sidney is definitely a changing community, but positively, as living and work spaces are being developed in keeping with a vision that considers how people want to live, engendering a strong sense of place.
Downtown Sidney-by-the-Sea is distinctive from other areas on the Peninsula, indeed from others on Vancouver Island. It is a destination because of its picturesque waterfront area. It is a compact, safe, multifunctional, pedestrian-friendly community, with an interesting mix of businesses. Consideration has been given to the aesthetics and to creating spaces for people to gather and linger. The environmental and natural settings are attractive to residents and create a community where neighbours converse while taking leisurely walks down Beacon and along the seaside waterfront walkway. It also makes Sidney a choice location for day-trippers.
This is very different from the purpose of a mall – a place where people make objective-based shopping decisions. These shoppers want to be in and out quickly and that means creating sizeable parking areas. A mall meets specific needs for shoppers but it cannot compete with the sense of place, of belonging, people seek in a community.
I don’t believe we want downtown Sidney to be good at being a parking lot for shoppers. The Gateway and Sandown developments will create greater economic activity on the Saanich Peninsula and will not necessarily threaten the vibrancy of downtown Sidney if we work together to maximize this opportunity.
Denny Warner, Executive Director
Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
When new projects are proposed for an area, municipal governments will often request development studies to review potential impacts to the environment, traffic flows, the local economy and more. These are reasonable and fair considerations. (more…)
Once more unto the breach, dear friends! This remains a hot button issue on the Saanich Peninsula and the hue and cry against increasing density is regrettable because it serves as a distraction and negatively impacts our use of one of the most powerful tools municipalities have to create more sustainable cities and preserve agricultural land. (more…)
One rather unorthodox metric of the real estate market in a particular area looks at the concentration of coffee shops. It is a crude measure of gentrification but typically, communities with higher concentrations of cafés selling espresso will also have higher real estate prices. You can draw your own conclusions in relation to Sidney. (more…)
As the largest business organization on the Saanich Peninsula, we are appropriately the lightning rod for opinions about development in the region. We have heard dismay expressed about the pace and density of development approvals in Sidney, and contrarily, about the dearth of development in North Saanich. (more…)