I want to thank people like Ray Bewza, Doreen Lambert and all of you who feel that you were shut down but still continue to raise questions regarding the Branding Process. It takes tremendous courage to speak out. Many of you still believe that we live in a democratic society and that asking questions, expecting transparency and having rousing debates is all part of the freedom that we hold dearly. Nothing is more dangerous than people not caring. Then again, I think elected officials who don’t listen to the people can be just as dangerous. Remember the HST debacle.
I think that Ashcroft has a costly issue with which to contend. It has sickened, angered, and stressed out many of its residents – the exact opposite of wellness. Although I do know some people who can’t stop joking or laughing at this whole process. At the recent Branding Process meeting, cost figures were not available. I did get an immediate response from Michelle Allen, our Village Administrator, the following day. These numbers have been circulating for a while. To be brief: Roger Brooks – consultant – $15,963.76, Donna Dixson etc consultant – $26,950. Rounded off $43, 000 on consultant fees. An NDIT grant covered these plus costs for new signs, pins, mugs etc. Michelle did stress that the Village did not contribute any funds from our own general revenue. But she did concede that yes, NDIT is taxpayer’s money – just a different pocket. Deb Arnott from Community Futures did obtain a grant back in 2004-05 for Economic Diversification to be shared with Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Logan Lake. There was not a breakdown for consultant fees but she did state that $25,000 came from the federal government and $15,000 from Community Futures. Check out NDIT website to learn more about what they do. Many of their projects are tangible, our tennis courts being one such project.You can also ask the Village and Community Futures for more detail. Remember it is our taxpayer’s money.
In hindsight, did anyone on Council or any of the volunteers even blink an eye or drop a jaw at how much money was being spent? Did anyone even consider other ways to get the branding information? I just saw and ad in the Kamloops News advertising “Branding: More Than A Logo” Seminar through Community Futures for $59. Go to Small Business BC to check out this program. It offers video conferencing etc. Free online research could have reaped inexpensive ideas as well. Maybe Ashcroft was the first to jump on the branding wagon and this information was not available and so we had to blaze an expensive path.
Now our hardworking volunteers/ambassadors with Jackie Tegart and another Head Volunteer are going to try to raise $6,000-$8,000 for a three-day Wellness Fair next summer. Whose pockets will be picked? You and I – one way or another through taxpayer’s grants, donations, fundraisers that compete with what other organizations, schools and churches do. Expect to pay as well when you attend the Fair or maybe it will all be free. I dream when I can. When does this stop?
However, just maybe our dedicated ambassadors will step back and reconsider their next steps. I dream again. Is there an inexpensive seminar that deals with how to fix a costly mistake? I have a healthy, happy idea for the volunteers that could result in measurable outcomes. How about raising money to pay for a consultant (big dollars in the consulting business) that will assess the costs of stopping the train whistles? Like Rick Mercer in “Why I Rant”, I rant for common sense, justice and transparency.
Maria Russell Martin