Is CVEDS out of touch with its own board members?

Dear editor,

I’m responding to the Feb. 15 letter by Mr. Presley about CVEDS.”

Dear editor,

I’m responding to the Feb. 15 letter by Mr. Presley, in which he set out to “counter some of the negative press and misunderstanding over CVEDS.”

It’s interesting Mr. Presley finds the questions and comments spawned by CVEDS’ recent actions to be negative, as opposed to the actions themselves.

What are the misunderstandings?

So far, concerned citizens have called for accountability, transparency and an explanation of whose vision of economic development CVEDS serves. I should think CVEDS would contact the press directly to set the record straight.

The opportunity to clarify what they’ve been doing, such as advertising the unapproved Raven Coal Mine, should be directly addressed to the taxpayers who funded the ad.

Mr. Presley explains that CVEDS consists “of local politicians representing the City, the Town, the Village, rural areas A, B, C and First Nations.” Then why has CVEDS contradicted the concerns of the people it represents?

Comox and Courtenay councils, and the CVRD, have passed unanimous motions opposing further processing of the Raven Coal Mine without strict new conditions. The K’omoks First Nation has also expressed concern, yet an ad is run.

Why? It appears that not only is CVEDS not listening to the public, their own board members are not being heard.

“What we try to do is promote the Comox Valley,” writes Mr. Presley. “What we do not do is sit in judgment on the types of economic activities that come to our door; we leave those decisions to local governments or the Province.”

If CVEDS, with well over a million-dollar budget, is not able to judge the quality, viability or sustainability of opportunities that pass over its domain — nor crosscheck with local government to avoid conflicts of interest — then why have yet another level of unresponsive bureaucracy?

Different levels of government should work on the same agenda with compatible goals, not run ads that conflict with each other. Is this a responsible action or a waste of taxpayer dollars?

What decision-making is CVEDS prepared to take responsibly for?

Mr. Presley says CVEDS must “determine where we spend our limited resources” and “have to make some difficult decisions on where we can get the most value for our efforts.” What is the added value of advertising for the Raven Coal Mine and big box stores?

What portion of CVEDS’ limited resources is spent on wages to its economic development officer (EDO)? It’s impossible to find out. The wage cannot be obtained even through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from local media.

Why is the taxpaying public not allowed to know? When contacted, the EDO of Nanaimo’s Economic Development Society had no problem being transparent with her income of $135,000 per year.

Amidst what Mr. Presley perceives as negative press and misunderstandings, only CVEDS itself can set the record straight. The media and the public are waiting for their positive clarification to the questions being asked.

S.M. Smith,

Royston

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