Okanagan Partnership: Flagship and Cluster Meetings
Status of Flagships
• Regional Engineers and UBC Engineering Degree: A group has been started for input which will be maintained. Engineers are actively engaging. Large turn out of regional engineers providing input to UBC-Okanagan. Goal is a staged four year degree program, spoken about at launch. Will be a four-year degree, starting with 60 students, growing to about 750 students, once all programs are in place (10% of UBC population). Will include mechanical, civil and some electrical. However, electrical has had difficulty filling seats during down turn. Mechanical is increasing. No aviation major, but an option; wine engineering.
• Regional Planning: Most meetings (today was fourth). There are four outcomes agreed to. One is to look at a Quest Consequence Model or analogous tool exercise (shows secondary consequences for the region). A “regional studio” for credit course that can be mobile, moving up and down the region, the first in Oliver. It will permit students to come into the region. A three-day regional planning conference. This would take the outcome of Quest-generated process to have regional planners get together. Developing a partnership with the World Urban Forum (which has so far focused on Vancouver). The idea is to have the entire region join in.
• Skills Pipeline: Two co-chairs identified. Still doing soul searching on what would be meaningful. Need initiatives to be couched within regional, provincial and national strategy.
• Regional Broadband: Met with BC Net. They are bringing ORAN broadband to Okanagan. There are gaps between UBC and three centers and the national labs. A gap analysis and budget is being prepared. IHA who has been part of this exchange said they would be willing to host the connections. There has been some discussion in Ottawa about connecting communities to Canary via ORAN lines. The vision, plans and projects will be solidified in January.
• UBC Medical School Pod: Build on initial plans to bring pharmacy into the region. What had not been done on Vancouver Island is to link doctors to doctors so there is a grass root component. To be facilitated in the new year. UBC is in high level discussions with Interior Health Authority and people in Advanced Education and Health to pursue the funding of these. This expansion involves working with the Health Authority from day one. Typically universities establish medical schools first. This is an activity that will include medicine and human kinetics as well as rehabilitation sciences and pharmaceutical sciences.
First Nations Partnership–Collaborating at All Levels: Already held a unity forum and a second one is planned. There will be a reporting session shortly to show what has been accomplished over the past year. The Senator will host the meeting around January 12th.
• Regional Water Management: Intent is for the amendment of the letters of patent to create a management body that is responsive (see white paper) to regional needs. Presented to all three regional districts. Two have supported, North Okanagan will examine next month. Hope and plan to discuss this initiative with First Nations more fully. Getting some good press. There was some concern up in Vernon that this is an effort to consolidate power in Kelowna. Had good meetings with the three regional districts. A week ago an excellent dialogue on climate change and water was presented here at PARC. The paper supports the need for greater regional water government. Important to have First Nations membership on the board and meet with chiefs to explore their interests (to avoid marginalization in their own territories and bring aboriginal people into the economic system). Have already met with Christine and ONA and meeting is scheduled for January 12th.
• Regional Airport Plan: First meeting planned for this week (Thursday). There are number of outcomes (Ben Amos and Dr. Curt Latham). A SWOT will be undertaken for all the airports, a possible charter for collaboration and a possible collaborative project (e.g., marketing). Some pressure to work through the BC Aviation Council rather than the Okanagan Partnership. The ongoing challenges facing Penticton Airport remain a concern. Getting the Okanagan on the provincial agenda is important. The BC Aviation Council will not accomplish this if this region pushes.
• Regional Branding: Gordon Hotchkiss is leading (see white paper). OSTEC is pursuing some activity. Economic Development officers are meeting Thursday afternoon to explore how they might coordinate.
• Deal Generator: Coming up. First step is to convene stakeholders and get rolling.
• North-South Transportation: Still looking for a candidate to lead this initiative.
• Okanagan Research Advisory Council: Has not been moved forward as there is no chair. However, there individuals on the UBC-O Advisory Board that may be capable handling this. Bill Nellems is actively involved in the UBC-O Research Advisory Board right now, which will also advance these needs.
Aviation Cluster: Seeking a meeting with companies in the region and with Transport Canada. There are feelings that there may be a better group to convene.
• Knowledge Services: Had many meetings. Energetic engaged in the UBC-O engineering program development and have been active on intellectual property policy development. They had explored getting a keystone company into the region to help provide demand for local firms. They are still examining this. They will be prioritizing their vision and resourcing to move forward.
• Life Sciences: Drs Bill Nellems and Jerry Karr have been very active. Jerry has been liaison with the BC Life Sciences Cluster and have met with the province. They are exploring how to provide funding for their initiatives. A meeting was held with IBM to see how information technology could be applied to the region. A meeting with UBC and IHI was held to explore regional synergies. A meeting this week will focus on bio-products and how to further develop nutraceuticals and leverage related industry growth.
• Tourism: Team met recently with David Coombs, Wine Institute, TOTA, First Nations and Cultural Corridor to explore how to develop new products and more integrated brochures (e.g., combining wine and tourism). TOTA is willing to have an intro page with Okanagan Partnership opening, focusing on the region. Good progress is being made. Wineries often get a wide variety of producers of guides approaching them. Look forward to a more integrated approach.
• Value Added Agriculture: Eric Sorenson and Dave Pringle are looking at where the value-added agriculture cluster can focus. A meeting was held in Lake Country that could be held across the region on moving up the value-chain.
• Wine and Beverage: They will meet this week. They have two initiatives. Integrated wine and tourism (see above), support from PARC and UBC on wine, also, supporting the 2010 Olympics and ensuring that BC wine is integrated. Quality has become an R&D priority with UBC-O and PARC. Want to do a first rate viticulture and enology initiative. This effort came out more recently.
• Forest Products: Majors are well organized. Had one meeting. Focus was on secondary producers. Hope to have industry co-chairs from value-added would. But has not been a major focus for the present. Nick Arkle
has been co-chairing with a co-chair from First Nations, Paul Birzins, and are looking for another from remanufacturing sector. Recognition that this cluster is dominated by major corporations. Perhaps a need to have the Senator to meet with major forestry players (Weyerhauser, Gorman Brothers, Riverside [which is leaving]).
Further Flagship Discussion
First Nation Partnership: Would have like to have submitted a white paper, but had not. Have a two-pronged approach. Big challenge for the First Nations Flagship is that they really want to participate across the board, but lack resources to do this. Looking at terms of reference for an economic development working group to engage in capacity building and interaction. They want ideas on how to better interface. They are eager to participate but their chief executive council recognizes that participating takes time and resources. There will be a conference on aboriginal tourism with 25 sessions on resources, techniques and opportunities. Thinking about an aboriginal tourism entity. They are trying to take a corporate approach. The other big piece is that WED is supporting their approach doing their own bottom-up development processes. In the short-term the economic development unit of the ONA would twin its business plan with the Okanagan Partnership, so that they could be lead on these themes. This has been useful and continues to be so. Unity Principle is the focus for the Flagship—bringing First Nation’s people together on collaborative solutions, through building capacity. But they are very focused on “nation building” through economic development via collaboration. Will be producing a guide on how to work with First Nations. The first Unity Conference in July was very productive and led to the tourism conference theme that engages others.
One of the biggest issues is that BC was settled without treaties entered into with aboriginal peoples. One of their primary objectives is resolution of aboriginal interests. They are thinking of doing an educational program among themselves, as a nation, to do more collaborative development (a better inward marketing job). It is important for First Nations to do this, but the Okanagan Partnership is a starting point. Plan to be full participants in the ongoing process. But will always be concerned with unresolved issues.
Enhancing mutual understanding is an important theme, about etiquette, protocols, language about “stakeholders”.
Strong commitment to let Aboriginal people define their own Flagships and encourage their participation in Flagships throughout the Okanagan Partnership.
Barry says that there are already successes on UBC-O related Flagships and more coming that are strong wins: