News » Whistler

Economic development a Squamish priority


Town hires economic development officer

The District of Squamish has made economic development and diversification a priority for the community, making a couple of bold moves in recent weeks.

On April 30, the District of Squamish hired a new economic development officer with a proven track record for attracting investments and building businesses.

Ms. Lee Malleau is the president of the Economic Development Association of British Columbia, where she is involved in a number of key initiatives, including the 2010 Olympic Bid and Invest British Columbia.

Most recently, Malleau was the economic development officer for the town of Golden, where she worked closely with business leaders and residents to bring in a multi-faceted plan that generated more than $250 million in new investments, including the new Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

"We are thrilled to welcome Lee Malleau to Squamish," said Mayor Ian Sutherland. "Her key strengths in the areas of opportunity identification and development, multiple project management, strategic planning, communications, relationship building and evaluation of complex issues will be invaluable to our community."

Malleau has been involved in economic development projects across Canada for the past 10 years, and has a background in journalism and economics, including the professionally accredited Economic Development Program at the University of Waterloo.

She is also a Rotary Club past-president and has worked with and sat on dozens of local and regional boards. This year she received a B.C. Tourism Ambassador Award for her work in development and service to that industry.

In addition to hiring Malleau, the Squamish District is looking into diverting a portion of business licensing revenues back into economic development and marketing initiatives. Other municipalities have taken similar measures in the past with success.

Businesses operating in the District of Squamish are required by bylaw to have a valid business license, even if they are based outside of the municipality. Fees are collected annually, and businesses that do not voluntarily participate risk fines of up to $100 daily.

The licenses are mandated to promote safe and legitimate business premises and operations in the district, as each license is reviewed under zoning bylaws, building bylaws, fire codes and, in many cases, the health officer.

Still, the voluntary participation in the licensing program has gone down in the last few years as businesses are refusing to pay. The District hopes that the prospect that some or all of the fee would be used for economic development and marketing will convince more individuals and businesses to acquire business licenses.