January 17, 2013 · 5:49 PM

Dear editor,

Is local economic “diversity” really showcased by the proposed Raven Coal Mine and big box stores?

On Dec. 8, the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) ran an advertisement in the Victoria Times-Colonist. It infuriated residents and The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) board members alike including rural A director Bruce Jolliffe.

The ad, designed to promote investment opportunities and showcase the “diversity” of the Comox Valley economy, surprisingly listed the proposed Raven Coal Mine and big box stores among the top three highlights of the region.

This shows that CVEDS is dramatically out of touch with its community, and needs to be reminded who it serves and who funds its budget.

Not only did the ad erroneously portray the divisive Raven Coal Mine proposal as a done deal for economic investment and location – it ignored the many small, independently owned businesses and associations that work endlessly to promote locally and independently owned shops put at risk by the expansion of chain outlets.

Some concerns about CVEDS’ ad include:

• The promotion of economic interests that run counter to the vision contained in planning documents for local sustainable development as put forth by CVRD.

• Government organizations like CVEDS and the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) receive taxpayer funding to promote a cohesive vision – yet this ad reveals disjuncture and a lack of basic message co-ordination.

• By showcasing the proposed Raven Coal Mine, CVEDS blatantly ignores concerns as stated by the CVRD, BC Shellfish Grower’s Association, K’ómoks First Nation, Coast Salish First Nations groups, Comox Valley chapter of the Council of Canadians, Comox Valley Land Trust, Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards, Citizens’ Stewardship Coalition, and numerous other organizations and individuals.

The BC Shellfish Growers’ Association “sounded the alarm” that proposed mining threatens a sustainable industry and hundreds of shellfish jobs. The CVRD board of directors passed a unanimous motion opposing further processing of the mine application until more independent studies are conducted, and a truly independent public review process is put in place.

• I among many of the concerned residents who oppose this mine and strongly object to the use of tax dollars to promote a project that is not yet through the permitting and public review processes.

In view of the above why is CVEDS using taxpayers' money to advertise the Raven Coal Mine? And why, in spite of Courtenay City council’s position to support downtown business does CVEDS neglect to promote the opportunities the Comox Valley offers to independent, locally based entrepreneurs? Why only mention the big box and chain stores?

As Mayor Jangula points out, small businesses are an important economic component of the city. They provide employment to the citizens of the Valley and are also the leading supporters of different social and sporting organizations in the community.

One begins to wonder whose vision of economic development, sustainably and livability CVEDS is promoting?

S.M. Smith,