2023 Was A Transformative Year for the Rural Islands Economic Partnership.
While the RIEP team—Board members, staff, and committee volunteers—had no idea what to expect from the year when it began, the Q1 burst of energy and “all-hands-on-deck” planning for our first in-person Forum in four years might have been a hint of things to come!
The hard work paid off on Gabriola Island, with a sold-out 3-day Forum at the end of April solidifying RIEP’s role as convener, collaborator, and coordinator for rural island community-building, collaboration, and action.
Over 150 rural island and coastal community leaders spent time together, connecting and re-establishing relationships, and talking about rural island policies and programs focused on building resilience in areas such as Rural Housing Policy, Climate Adaptation & Mitigation, Building Local Economic Capacity, Food Security, and Travel As A Force For Good.
The momentum created at the Forum led to the establishment of working groups tasked with extending the conversations well beyond the Forum. In two subsequent Connection Cafes — June 8th and November 14th — RIEP members and non-members alike came together in virtual meet-ups intended to transform the Forum policy resolutions into collaborative action. These conversations continue — if you would like to get involved, read about how in our blog post about the Resolutions process.
Rising Tide Business Services (RTB), our social enterprise, continued to lead the charge on building local economic capacity in 2023, by successfully delivering 72 digital marketing projects and solutions to local businesses and non-profit organizations across the rural islands and coastal communities, along with free skills training and vocational support for Indigenous youth, women, and people with disabilities. And they didn’t stop there—following a successful pilot in March, in the summer Rising Tide launched Skills Up in Alert Bay, . Learn more about Rising Tide and book a free 30-minute consultation by visiting the RTB website!
As a result of our policy, community, and capacity-building initiatives, our relationships with regional NGOs and government agencies — such as VIEA, VIU, Community Futures Central Island, ICET, BC’s Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, and PacifiCan — have grown deeper and more collaborative. In the spring, for example, RIEP won a grant to investigate the potential for green business growth across the islands region. Research began in July, with insights from this project indicating a growing appetite and need for solutions that will accelerate the development and delivery of programs that can be funded to deliver real climate mitigation responses for the business community across the rural islands and coastal communities.
In recognition of these important on- and off-island connections, in November, RIEP members voted in favour of a Board resolution to update our Constitution:
For the rural islands and rural remote coastal communities of BC, cultivate enduring partnerships that ensure community economic resilience, and generates long-term prosperity without depleting natural or social capital. This may include:
- Exploration and implementation of financial models to achieve this goal;
- Facilitation of communications and information sharing to build capacity and collaboration;
- Advocacy, promotion and support of community economic resilience on behalf of the rural islands and rural remote coastal communities of BC
As we head into a new year, we do so with new excitement, energy and enthusiasm, thanks in large part to a group of committed volunteer Board members from across the islands and coastal communities. Welcome to our new Directors—you can read profiles for all our Board members here.
Onward with Gratitude!!!
Board Chair and President