Vancouver Island needs vision and leadership to become world-renowned for clean-technology solutions.
That’s the view of several panelists who shared what’s happening with clean technology and how to take the sector further, during the State of the Island Economic Summit on Wednesday.
In Canada there are more than 800 firms in the clean-tech sector, which employs more than 50,000 people and has revenue of $13 billion, said Zethof Consulting Group owner Bert Zethof, who moderated the session on Vancouver Island clean technology. He’s counted more than 100 of the businesses on Vancouver Island.
Voytek Klaptocz, managing director and co-founder of Mavi Innovations Inc., recently moved to the Island and his company installed a tidal turbine project north of Campbell River at Blind Channel Resort this past summer. The turbine will generate power from tidal currents, helping the resort rely less on diesel, but the company will also determine if it’s feasible to have off-grid turbine power and its infrastructure could lend itself to learning and data-gathering by like-minded companies and universities, according to Klaptocz.
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He’s found there is “tremendous support” for small business, but he also said the company doesn’t quite know what the vision is for the Island and getting communities off diesel.
“A lot of times it seems like we are just trying to execute on our own vision,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk out there about doing it but we aren’t necessarily seeing any action other than from our own initiative to do so.”
He said there probably needs to be consolidation, a central association, that will push initiatives on different fronts, technically but also at the universities and on the policy side.
Tom Zaban, executive vice-president of Victoria-based Reliable Controls and Judith Sayers, strategic advisor to First Nations and corporations, agreed on the need for vision and leadership.
“If we don’t have a vision, we’re not going anywhere,” Sayers said.
There are 249 projects First Nations want to develop in B.C. with a value of $3.3 billion, a survey of 105 nations found, according to Sayers, who said there’s an opportunity for First Nations and it helps reduce greenhouse gases, makes use of renewable resources, has minimal environmental impact, creates jobs, diversifies the economy and creates regional benefits and independence with power.
She said First Nations need the opportunity to create power, access to capital, partner companies and more capacity development.
The Vancouver Island Economic Association announced it’s prepared to assemble a working group to look at how it can support development of clean technology on the Island.