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Need free business PR? Call the mayor and council

It was good to see the Coast Discovery Inn reopen last week. The owners and staff all looked happy and genuinely pleased to be back at work.

I think it’s important to have the downtown landmark back in business, because it sure beats seeing the front entrance boarded up.

I can’t imagine what visitors thought seeing the hotel closed and looking as if the wrecking ball was ready to go to work. I’m sure it was perceived with curiosity given the huge amount of building and economic activity currently taking place downtown.

Anyhow, good to see the DI back in business, but it was interesting to see the mayor, a former mayor and several councillors there for the re-opening.

“We’re here to support business...and it’s good to see everyone back at work with the same wages and benefits,” one councillor told me.

I can’t argue with that, but it’s still surprising how our politicians pick and choose who they support and why. Look at it this way: It wasn’t as if the hotel was opening for the very first time; nor was it newly renovated; council played no part in the reopening; and lastly, it was closed for two months because management wanted the union out.

To be fair, I don’t think this particular union did much to represent its employees other than to collect dues. Perhaps it deserved to be dumped by the workers who successfully decertified.

That said, I wondered aloud to a few councillors why they had not been at New Horizons when the new employee contractor took over at the beginning of the month? That remark brought some uncomfortable looks and a few raised eyebrows, but really, are both situations any different?

If you recall, the private owners of the care facility decided to layoff all their employees when the union contract expired so they could hire most of them back, under a different contractor, for less money, benefits and seniority. Many went back, some did not, just like the DI.

I guess the “big difference” was council was invited to attend the hotel reopening while Carecorp Senior Services prefers to “fly under the radar.” I can’t blame Carecorp because the whole process of financially screwing people who look after the elderly is disdainful to a lot of people in this community.

(By the way, the only councillor to publicly support New Horizons workers was Larry Samson who wasn’t there for the hotel reopening.)

As for the DI, my best guess is the mayor and council were there to give it a much-needed public relations boost.

The hotel can use the free PR too especially after losing the business of the Campbell River Rotary Club, which held its weekly luncheon meetings there for decades. The Rotarians now meet at the Maritime Heritage Centre and, I suspect, it’s not just for the better view.

Anyway, tourist season approaches and the hotel staff will need to be at the top of their game. It’s election year too and that means voters will be closely watching how mayor and council play out the rest of their season.

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