According to Money Sense, Campbell River ranked number 175 out of 180 best places to live in Canada in November 2011. Three other British Columbia city/towns were listed in the bottom 10 with Campbell River. It was noted that Campbell River had high unemployment, extremely high housing prices, and is trying to re-invent itself as a retiree community, winning a green award.
The idea that the community can survive on retiree money is wrong thinking. Retiree money is finite meaning it doesn’t grow, it only depletes. The first dollar in any economy comes from the land. Resource dollars form the base of an economic pyramid. Campbell River, like much of Canada has an upside down pyramid ready to collapse upon itself.
Decision makers for the community continue to keep their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, blind to the reality the majority of the townspeople live with daily: struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table more often resulting in an outflow of workers making room for retirees and the destitute.
These same decision makers have created their own financial language. While property assessments have dropped significantly, property taxes are increasing to preserve the image of being an award-winning green community for old people to enjoy spending frugally on services that pay their employees minimum wages.
After 25 years of living, raising my children, and growing old myself in Campbell River, I am unable to afford living in this community of many distinctions because it lacks economic development to support my education and skill base and being overqualified for minimum wage work. Campbell River doesn’t even have enough minimum wage jobs to support its youth who are in competition with aging and immigrant workers for those few minimum wage positions that require the worker to first spend money attaining certifications to have the privilege of making next to nothing.
On the other end of the scale is the travesty of losing the mill due to an exaggerated sense of entitlement by the union leaving Campbell River with only aquaculture as the major resource employer whose economic arms reached throughout the entire community – the same community that allows the spread of hostility toward aquaculture causing its product to be too expensive to be viable in the world market.
The only green award I want to see and Campbell River should be working toward is the green of economic development before Campbell River is just one big green cemetery. Haul your heads out of the sand and start working to rebuild our economic strength while there still exists people young enough willing to do the work.