How have key industries performed?

220424 – TOURISM...Favourable exchange rates and strong global economic conditions resulted in the addition of 4,000 jobs in tourism related sectors (e.g., hospitality, recreation) between 2014 and 2019.1Travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 led to significant reductions in the number of visitors to Vancouver Island, and by the end of 2021 employment in tourism related sectors had fallen by over 3,000.

FORESTRY...Fibre supply constraints have reduced annual harvest volumes on Vancouver Island by approximately 10 percent since 2014 and resulted in the closure of one large mill and several small operations.

The forest sector has also faced a number of other challenges. Expiry of the softwood lumber agreement between Canada and US in October 2015 resulted in the imposition of tariffs on imports of Canadian wood products the following year. There was also an eight-month strike at Western Forest Products that shutdown production. The strike ended in February 2020 and the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions delayed the restart of production by several months.

The net result has been a decline in employment in harvesting and manufacturing on Vancouver Island of approximately 2,900 between 2014 and 2021.2

AQUACULTURE...Aquaculture production on Vancouver Island was relatively stable between 2014 and 2021. However, the closure of fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago in 2021 have resulted in reductions in employment and changes to the tenure rules that are expected to come into effect in June 2022 may lead to the closure of processing facilities.

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION...Between 2014 and 2019 the number of international students studying on Vancouver Island was relatively stable with modest year-to-year fluctuations. Classes were delivered virtually between April 2020 and August 2021 which meant that many international students remained in their home countries. The result was a reduction in economic spin-offs associated with spending by students.

OTHER...There were modest increases in manufacturing related to food and beverages and transportation equipment. Tech and film production also showed signs of increased activity between 2018 and 2021

1Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Custom Tabulation

2Ibid

Hanson to retire as head of Economic Alliance

George Hansom - March 17, 2022

George Hanson has announced his decision to retire in 2022 as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA). 

During George’s 11-year tenure, he was responsible for several notable achievements for VIEA, the only regional, non-government, non-profit, economic development organization of its kind in British Columbia. These include growing the annual ‘State of the Island’ Economic Summit to become the must-attend event for leaders across the Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands region, launching the annual ‘State of the Island’ Economic Report, establishing the successful Island Good product brand, facilitating the Island Wood Industries initiative, and achieving Foreign Trade Zone designation for the Vancouver Island region. His guidance and vision leading the organization has been instrumental in positioning VIEA as a key collaborator towards long-lasting regional economic development, diversification and resilience in the region. 

“George’s work leading VIEA has been pivotal in helping build and cement strong partnerships across our region in creative, flexible and personalized ways for more than a decade,” says VIEA Board Chair Shannon Baikie. “We are grateful for all he has done for VIEA and for our region. He is leaving behind a lasting legacy within the organization and throughout the Island region.”

“The Island region is special and deserves our freshest and greatest ideas. I have welcomed the challenge to develop and manage initiatives and foster relationships towards a regional economy that is balanced, sustainable and overflowing with vitality,” says Hanson. “VIEA successes are largely attributable to a community of smart, capable, progressive volunteers with whom I have been privileged to work, including our board directors, members, committees, partners, Island Good licensees, contractors and sponsors.”

“The Island region is special and deserves our freshest and greatest ideas. I have welcomed the challenge to develop and manage initiatives and foster relationships towards a regional economy that is balanced, sustainable and overflowing with vitality,” says Hanson. “VIEA successes are largely attributable to a community of smart, capable, progressive volunteers with whom I have been privileged to work, including our board directors, members, committees, partners, Island Good licensees, contractors and sponsors.”

Hanson’s retirement offers the opportunity for a new leader to step into a position with tremendous prospects for enabling economic growth in the Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands economy. VIEA’s board of directors is initiating a search for a new President and CEO who is a visionary community builder and skilled communicator with deep relationships with First Nations, coastal communities, government, business, and education. Hanson will remain in place until a successor is hired and will work with the new President and CEO over a transition period.

“With new leadership providing fresh perspective and inspiration, VIEA will help lead the way as the region’s needs and opportunities rapidly evolve,” added Hanson. “The challenges are real. The opportunities are enormous. There is no time to waste.”

The posting opens on March 17, 2022.

For all inquiries on the position and application process, please contact Dan Hurley, Principal, Hurley Martin Group, at hurleymartingroup@gmail.com.