Up and down British Columbia’s south coast, rural island communities serve as models for addressing the systemic challenges that affect communities of all sizes.
Ecological challenges, like fire, water supply, septic, and wildlife protection—if you live on an island, this is your reality. Housing, essential services, and decolonization and reconciliation— everyday conversations on BC’s rural islands.
In communities of a few hundred or thousand people, one’s connections to community and environment are closer, tighter, and more personal than in many other places. When systems break down on an islan, the impacts may not affect you directly, but they probably affect someone you know. Islands are microcosms of mass society as we now know it; they can also serve as models for the change we want to see in the future.
Whether it’s feasible for our rural island business sector to model what a healthy, resilient and sustainable economy looks like is purpose of RIEP’s Green Business Accelerator (GBA) project.
Funded in March, 2023 by the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Investment through their REDIP program, the GBA project is predicated on the idea that opportunities to adopt ‘green’ business practices are just as prevalent on BC’s rural islands as anywhere else in the province. Engaging in regenerative or circular economic activity, conserving natural or non-renewable resources, and reducing dangerous CO2 emissions and waste—these are the opportunities.
The problem? We don’t know enough about the rural island economy to ask for the right kind of support from the provincial government. It’s not just that we don’t know the types of economic policies and regulatory change, funding or other resources that are needed, we don’t know which islands or industry sectors could create the biggest impact. Even with this information, for our rural islands to even have a chance at becoming healthier and stronger for the long term—and to model ‘best practices’ in community economic development, social responsibility, and environmental management—we need to identify participants of our local economies who are ready, willing, and able to join us on this journey.
The GBA project began earlier this month with the launch of our Business Impact Survey, a short series of questions for residents of BC’s rural islands and coastal communities, and those who own, operate, or work for an island business. Anyone is welcome to take the survey, which takes approximately 4 minutes to complete. The survey closes on September 22, 2023.
In September, we’ll begin interviewing people who work or volunteer their time across our network, and try to piece together the picture of the rural island economy, and the people, places, and potential for change. Combined with additional research on the size, scope and demographics of the rural island regional economy, we’ll be able to provide a comprehensive report on the opportunity for BC’s rural islands to take bold steps towards the greening of our economy.
If you would like to participate in the GBA project, please complete the Business Impact Survey—you’ll have an opportunity to provide your name and contact information at the end of the survey.