“Fact of the matter is our proximity to Kamloops is sucking the economic life out of our community! How do you compete with that?”
That was a comment made by one of our local candidates during a recent All Candidates Forum. It doesn’t really matter which candidate said it, or where they were from, because it’s not the first time I’ve heard that sentiment.
I used to hear it while growing up in Windsor about people crossing the border to shop in Detroit. I used to hear it while living in Fort St. John about people driving to Grande Prairie, Alberta to buy their “big ticket” items. I’ve heard Kamloops blamed for our lack of business since I moved here 13 years ago.
And as I sat and listened to the candates at the All Candidates Forum, it struck me again that Kamloops is a convenient scapegoat for our business woes.
A few years ago, my Tool Man was working in Chase – a community on Little Shuswap Lake with a population of about 2,500, or a little less than Ashcroft and Cache Creek combined.
I visited the community several times in both summer and winter and was struck every time by how busy the town and its businesses were. And what a lot of businesses they had!
And they were closer to Kamloops than either Cache Creek or Ashcroft.
I can’t tell you why Chase had such a vibrant business community, but proximity to Kamloops didn’t seem to be an issue.
And if it isn’t an issue for another community, why do we feel it is here? Have we found a convenient excuse and stopped expecting our business communities to grow?
We heard several of the candidates say that the “same old same old” wasn’t working: It was try to try something new. I agree.
We need to start fresh. We need existing space for new businesses, and we need active Chambers that will support them and help them grow. We need businesses that go the extra mile for their customers, and we need strong local governments that will assist new and existing businesses every way they can. All it takes is commitment.
Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal