‘Out-of-town suits’ no answer for Cumberland

Dear editor,
There has been a lot of hype in the papers recently about what the boosters of “the new town” are calling Cayet.
Hang on a second — I thought this was supposed to be part of Cumberland?

Dear editor,

There has been a lot of hype in the papers recently about what the boosters of “the new town” are calling Cayet.

Hang on a second — I thought this was supposed to be part of Cumberland?

For the last few years Trilogy Corp. has been systematically shredding a well-thought out plan, the OCP, put together by the citizens for the future of Cumberland. Despite numerous protests from Cumberlanders who quite liked the Village we already had, a new “vision” was thrust upon us.

This was promoted endlessly by certain members of council, who branded any of us opposed to the urbanization of our unique community as “anti-development.”

Actually, I am proud to be anti-suburban-sprawl, and anti the “rip, strip and flip” routine that is typical of such developments. I am very pro-development that supports the social, environmental and economic well-being of my community. So far I don’t see any evidence of that.

I think more people would support a vision that directly benefited the existing community, as we were promised all along. The out-of-town suits were going to fix our aging infrastructure, we were enthusiastically told by the mayor and his cronies.

So far such payments or amenities have been deferred, and every request by the developer to opt out of any such obligation has been quickly approved by the same council boosters.

What does this all mean for us — the long-suffering taxpayers?

As per usual, we will continue to shoulder the increase in taxes; this to pay for a new town that is being promoted as being “between Cumberland and Courtenay.”

A shiny new Cayet Discovery Centre, also paid for by taxpayers’ dollars (through a government grant to the Economic Development Society), will act as a free landmark to promote this new not-really-part-of-Cumberland town.

Brilliant marketing strategy!

Cumberland even caved in to its demand that the Centre be designed with a heritage theme; instead we get an obelisk from 2011: A Space Nightmare.

As for the supposed $110 million that will be sunk into this adventure, it’s smoke and mirrors. Trilogy doesn’t actually own one acre.

There’s no comprehensive master development agreement. It’s simply a hodgepodge of lots that will be developed willy-nilly. The main backer for Trilogy, Michael Hungerford, pulled out several years ago when he saw the writing on the wall.

Promoter Marty Douglas proudly announced that we will soon have auto dealerships, fast-food outlets and condos. BCAA’s Westworld article was accurate — it’s more of the same; keep on driving tourists, if you want to see anything different from Kelowna, Surrey, Nanaimo or the wonderful Wallyworld entrance to Courtenay.

As for the condos, anyone who has done their homework knows that residential development is a net drain on the municipal tax base.

Up to now, Cumberland has been governed by an ethic that might be paraphrased as “Father Knows Best.” Such arrogance should receive short shrift in a changing community where once The Company ruled the town, but no longer holds sway.

Over the last few years our property taxes have increased dramatically — with no noticeable benefits. And yet I see elected officials recklessly racking up future debts in the name of “development.”

When challenged to show what financial benefits we will receive, there has been a deafening silence from those same people.

Cumberland or Cayet — I know which I want.

A council that listens to its citizens – now wouldn’t that be a refreshing change? Fiscal prudence with taxpayers money – isn’t it about time?

Richard Drake,

Cumberland

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