Mayor Charlie Cornfield supports Rivercorp despite admissions by some city councillors they have lost faith in the organization.
Cornfield, in a statement read at Tuesday’s council meeting, reminded city council that last year it debated the merits of Rivercorp, which exists to encourage economic development, and “after months of discussion and debate decided to stay with the Rivercorp model.”
At the time, council agreed it valued the jobs Rivercorp creates and the families it supports and confirmed keeping Rivercorp independent from – although funded by – the city.
“The public has been telling us loud and clear that we needed to attract new business to the city,” said Cornfield. “In Campbell River, the model in place for delivery of service is Rivercorp. It has an independent board of directors and their own staff to manage economic development, tourism and visitor services.”
But a couple of councillors feel Rivercorp has not delivered.
“I’ve been involved with Rivercorp for the last five budgets now, and just strictly from a business decision, the return on investment hasn’t been there,” said Coun. Ziggy Stewart. “It hasn’t fulfilled my vision of what Rivercorp is supposed to be.
“I just can’t support them anymore.”
Coun. Mary Storry believes the public has also lost faith in Rivercorp.
“The public has said we want these things to happen and we don’t think Rivercorp is the vehicle to do it,” she said. “At this point we’re looking for performance and we haven’t seen the performance.”
Last month, council forced Rivercorp to give back $41,000 for a downtown marketing plan that failed to make any major changes downtown.
Ben Chalmers, chair of Rivercorp, said the strategy was presented to city council by the former CEO of the organization without prior approval from the board of directors.
However, that CEO has left Rivercorp and the organization now has a brand-new board.
“We knew that changes were required and appointed a new rejuvenated board of nine volunteer members based on their expertise in economic sectors and experience on boards,” said Cornfield. “The board has been developing and implementing a rigorous search process to identify and recruit a new CEO.
“They are in the final stages of hiring the new CEO and we expect an announcement soon.”
Cornfield added the Rivercorp board is working with city council to develop a strategic direction for economic development and believes “council wisely chose to leave the budget the same as last year’s with minor increases for new computers, cash registers and offset the deficit.”
Cornfield acknowledged Rivercorp has come through on a number of initiatives including: securing a commitment from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to locate new Aquaculture Fisheries Officers in the city which added 15 new jobs; secured a BC Bike Race that will bring hundreds of racers to the city; worked with the Forestry Task Force to attract new forestry investment into Campbell River; and hosted the Ride Guide mountain biking television show in the Snowden Demonstration Forest.