A consultant has been hired to create a new economic development strategy for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality that will define targets for the next 15 years and create an environment attractive to businesses and entrepreneurs.
Dillon Consulting will launch the CBRM Forward project next week. Over the next two years, the project will integrate ways to improve business growth with changes to municipal planning and zoning bylaws.
Mayor Amanda McDougall said she is looking forward to the process getting started.
"It is an exciting time," she said following a presentation to council Tuesday by the consultants.
"There is going to be amazing amounts of consultation and outreach and a really thoughtful process that is undertaken over a good time span of two years to really move forward with this."
Tyler Mattheis, economic development officer for the CBRM Regional Enterprise Network, said it's not often that economic development plans are shaped along with municipal planning and zoning rules.
"I think council's showing a lot of foresight and vision in this, and we're really excited about it," he said.
Public input key to the project
Dillon Consulting won the tender to create the strategy for CBRM at a cost of $217,391.
Jennifer Brown, a planner with Dillon Consulting, said public engagement will play a large role in the strategy's development.
The project will involve surveys and focus groups, as well as the creation of a citizen advisory group. A technical advisory group will be formed with staff from CBRM and the Cape Breton Partnership, a business organization that operates the CBRM Regional Enterprise Network.
Public input will start with the launch of a website on April 6 and a virtual open house on April 14, Brown said.
In June and July, the public will have opportunities to comment on initial ideas around the economic development and growth management strategies, as well as possible changes to the municipal planning strategy and bylaws.
In the fall, people will be asked to comment on larger issues such as infrastructure and transportation, and how they affect economic development.
Draft strategies are expected to be ready for public comment a year from now. By fall of 2022, the land-use bylaw and other bylaws should be drafted for comment.
"Over two years, that's a lot of engagement," Brown said. "We want to make sure that every time we go out to the public that they recognize how their input is going to be used."
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