Mark Lasby, P.Eng. from Quadra Island is a Consulting Engineer, member of the Discovery Islands Chamber of Commerce, and Board Member of the Rural Islands Economic Partnership (RIEP). We talked to him about the economic challenges facing Quadra Island, the importance of cooperation for local businesses, and the perfect place to experience Quadra Island's vibe.
Living part-time on Quadra Island since 1990 and full-time since 2016, Mark was drawn to the climate, rural feel, freedom, and volunteer mindset of the island. He suggests every visitor take in the Saturday Farmers and Artisans Market in Quathiaski Cove during the warmer months. In terms of the economic development and resilience of Quadra Island, he immediately recognized the value of RIEP:
"[RIEP represents] standing together for strength in numbers to address common issues and problems—helping local businesses thrive."
He is looking forward to the expansion of the successful RIEP initiative Island COMEBACK with greater e-commerce options for local rural island small businesses and artisans to sell their products online. Many face considerable time and resource challenges for getting their goods online but collaboration through RIEP's initiative is offering them an important opportunity for exposure and growth.
During the pandemic, Mark has appreciated how mutual respect and cooperation have been hallmarks of the community adapting to the times, "Friday morning Zoom business meetups have spawned collaboration amongst the restaurants and accommodation providers." More opportunities for collaboration will come with RIEP membership and inter-island communications.
In terms of challenges, in addition to economic recovery post-pandemic, he sees Quadra will have to contend with several other critical issues:
"There is a lack of rental housing for the seasonal employees that the accommodation, tourism, and service businesses need. Also important is the lack of cell coverage and high-speed internet across the island."
Responding to these issues is at the forefront of many other rural island communities seeking to build long-term economic resilience.
Thank you Mark for sharing your island story. We'd love to hear your island story. Submit it here.