Gabriolans take ownership of their economic future

Gabriola Chamber of Commerce

Press Release

Tuesday, December 19 2017

Last we counted there are well over 600 people on Gabriola working like crazy, as entrepreneurs do, to create and manage their businesses. They are your neighbour, your farmer, your lumber store owner, your artist, your antique doll repairer, your international patent illustrator; they are those three fellas that are working in their garage to start up a boat building business. They all love everything that is Gabriola and are determined to generate enough income to live on this island, to employ others so that they can enjoy life here, and to help build a thriving economy beside the trees and shorelines that we love.

For the past five years, the Regional District of Nanaimo has had an agreement through the City of Nanaimo with the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) and Tourism Nanaimo to provide economic development and tourism marketing services for Electoral Area B which includes Gabriola. Although much was going in the right direction for Gabriola, the City decided to dissolve the NEDC and Gabriolans were left with the opportunity to take ownership of their economic future.

The Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce offered to take a leadership role on behalf of the Regional District and engaged our entrepreneurial community to offer input, confirm our tourism and economic priorities, and create a realistic and doable three-year Economic Development Plan.

The resulting recommendation of the community was that the RDN enter into an agreement with the Chamber to provide economic development services for Electoral Area B. The Agreement, dated October 3, 2017, outlines that the RDN provide funding to the Chamber in the amount of $29,925 for economic development services for the period ending March 31, 2018, and then $65,000 per year for the following two years in accordance with the agreement.

To ensure accountability to the community as a whole, not just Chamber members, an Economic Development Advisory Group is being put together. Its mission is to develop a robust island economy that thrives within the culture Gabriolans cherish. To provide tools and resources to create a community working in concert to improve our entrepreneurial capacity.

At the Chamber’s Annual General Meeting on November 29, 2017, Gloria Hatfield, President, spoke about the partnership being developed with the Regional District. 

She thanked the Chamber manager, the dedicated volunteers and Howard Houle, Regional Director, for all of their work and commitment. “Howard’s engagement and advice in the process was refreshing and the results are reflective of the open and inquisitive tone he set,” said Hatfield. 

Performance indicators are an important guide to decision making and to determining progress. The results of a survey the Chamber completed indicates that the average annual revenue generated by a Gabriolan business is well under $50,000. As the Economic Development Advisory Group sets up their key performance indicators, Hatfield challenges, “Wouldn’t it be exciting if we could increase that number by $5,000 to $10,000 annually?”

For those interested in learning more and seeing how best to become involved, the Economic Development Plan and the Service Agreement between the RDN and the Chamber can be found on our website at or contact Tammie Hennigar, Chamber Manager at