A letter to the editor by S.M. Smith in last Friday’s Record is generating some buzz.
“Is local economic ‘diversity’ really showcased by the proposed Raven Coal Mine and big box stores?” she begins. Continuing, Smith questions the wisdom of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society running an ad in a Victoria newspaper.
The ad, paid for with taxpayer dollars, was designed to promote investment opportunities in this region and illustrate the diversity of our economy. That fits the CVEDS mandate of generating economic activity in the Comox Valley.
Mentioning the proposed (and controversial) Raven coal mine and big box stores as two of the region’s first three listed highlights, however, angered some local residents.
“Residential property taxes in Courtenay were raised to make up for the decrease in the multiplier for business property taxes,” noted one Facebook commenter. “Why should I have to subsidize big box stores and then pay again to advertise them?”
“Fifth Street is becoming a disgrace — closed shops mean new art galleries for local artists,” remarked another commenter. “Get Courtenay council onside to support downtown. How much do I give to EDS each year? What do I get in return?”
The ad’s mention of big box stores is a red flag for people who are watching small downtown businesses increasingly disappear locally.
The scenario has played out all over North America. Big box stores draw customers away from small businesses downtown. Add a recession and the death of small businesses run by local people follows.
Does CVEDS plan to attract more big box stores? Does it intend to do anything to help small businesses?
Who knows? Getting basic, unfiltered information out of the taxpayer-funded group is a challenge for all local media.
Come clean, CVEDS. In interviews with local media, tell us what you’re doing to make our economy better so we can share it with the people who depend on you.