Grow wealth from bottom-up

Please say No to GAIN gaining a stronghold on our community.

Grow wealth from bottom-up

We have inherited a mess. It’s unfortunate that those responsible for bequeathing it to us aren’t here to help sort it out.

We have a new business, VIMC, that claims success and shows confidence that an expansion would be to everyone’s benefit. To that end they have devised tactics and put great effort and funds into garnering support.

There was considerable mitigation that went into the revised track expansion proposal Mr. Holland presented to council at the public meeting. The rerouting of the track, not rising up the hill, crossing the creek four rather than seven times and building bridges rather than culverts is more environmentally friendly to be sure. There are also plans for state-of-the-art sound reduction strategies. They claimed to have sourced locally as much as possible for hiring, buying, and donating.

I wish I could believe it at face value. There has been controversy over this business since day one. The public has heard both sides of the story on matters such as noise levels and environmental concerns but there is much that hasn’t been addressed i.e. how was the land and zoning acquired to begin with and where are the people who were responsible for those processes?

So I don’t trust the rosy picture Mr. Holland presented. There are no covenants or anything that make those promises binding.

This is even more troubling to me when I put it in the present day context of how money and the pursuit of acquiring it in ever greater amounts, is becoming more of an influence in how our communities are shaped than the governments that are elected by said communities.

Mr. Holland said that the GAIN Group has their eye on many other interests in the area. Will there be an end to their desire to expand? Must they own tracks, resorts, lodges, golf courses? Is it healthy for a community and its governing bodies to become so dependant on one business? What influence will it hold when it pays so much in taxes, when employees owe it loyalty as we saw in the display at the public meeting, when it has endlessly deep pockets to promote their interests in any aspect of our lives?

I’m not saying we don’t need taxes, employment and donations. I am saying that the Cowichan Valley is rapidly becoming a very desirable place to invest and live. There are many who are on their way. I support economic and class diversification far more than becoming a playground for the rich especially under the auspices of one corporation that already has a dubious reputation, whose bottom line is profit, and has access to vast resources to secure what is in their best interests.

Let’s instead foster an economy that brings fairness and transparency so that community voices are heard and respected and trust is restored. Therefore, I am suggesting that mayor, council and staff broaden their vision of how we build economic wealth in our community; think differently about how to design, finance and deliver it in a way that maximizes benefits and wealth for residents and local businesses.

Let’s build a strong, secure community by employing economic strategies with an eye toward a thriving, holistic, “whole neighborhood” investment plan by developing programs, policies, and opportunities that grow diversified entrepreneurs from the bottom-up rather than become indebted to top-down, centrally driven dollars.

Please say No to GAIN gaining a stronghold on our community.

M. Lescher

Duncan

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