Development needs careful planning

There are good things to be said about Economic Development Officers and the work they do.

Economic development came up a lot during the recent campaigning – more it seemed in Cache Creek than in Ashcroft.

Interesting that while the newer candidates advocated for an economic development officer (EDO), the incumbents said no, it wasn’t needed. Mayor Ranta said he was already promoting the town, making contacts and doing the job. Candidate Marg Durnin contended that he was doing wasn’t enough.

And she had a good point, saying you couldn’t chat with this person or that business about setting up in town and call it economic development. You need a plan, a strategy, to be carried out carefully.

Development is happening in Cache Creek and Ashcroft, but it’s not keeping up with the decline in business.

When I came here nearly 14 years ago, there were a lot more businesses in both towns. A few businesses have opened in that time, but we’re still losing ground.

Why is it that small town councils are so opposed to economic development officers? This isn’t the first town I’ve lived in where the idea has been soundly pummelled. Granted, economic development isn’t a hard science and some EDOs really don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing. Others do but they don’t have their local government’s support. There are a lot of ways that an EDO can fail, and not all of it is their fault.

Then I hear a sitting member of Council say “How do you compete with Kamloops?” If that’s true, then are we just waiting for another industry to save us? Yes, they provide jobs, but they don’t provide services and goods to the community.

First off, our Chambers of Commerce need to be re-activated because right now they’re in hibernation. They public needs to be engaged as well as local businesses.

We need to look closely at what we have in terms of business and then determine what we need to fill in the gaps and draw in customers – and residents.

What we really need are people to lead, who will bring some strategic planning and positive energy to the table, and make our towns a good place to do business.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal