Micro businesses key to filling vacant buildings, says Wright

Kevin Wright told council that the city needs to a better strategy to encourage entrepreneurs during their Feb. 23 meeting.

Port Alberni’s ever growing number of empty buildings are proof that the city needs a better strategy to encourage entrepreneurs, Kevin Wright told city council during their Feb. 23 meeting.

Wright, who owns Steampunk Cafe, presented his Sprout program on Monday.

The program, which Wright wants the city to help facilitate by relaxing building bylaws, would allow aspiring business owners to develop just a small part of a unit. He believes that the large square footage and extensive repairs necessary as a result of that, as well the buildings’ ages discourage people from opening up business in those spaces.

According to Wright, the program was “developed specifically  for communities that are based on the resource industry, communities that have gone through a steady boom and then sunk into a significant downturn.”

With 40 across the city, Wright said that it was time to look at a new approach to filling those units, whether it be with retail or light or heavy industry. He pointed to micro businesses in bylaw-heavy Victoria as a model for what could be accomplished here.