Please broaden your message to include youth

I am a small business owner in Campbell River and an active community member

Filed for publication with the Mirror

Dear Mr. Mayor and Newly Elected Council

I am a small business owner in Campbell River and an active community member who participates on several volunteer Boards and committees. I take an active leadership role in the community.

Congratulations on your win for mayor and to the new council members.

I would like to pass on a couple of comments to you:

1.  Our small business (construction and design) enjoys a very positive relationship with City Hall – contrary to the rhetoric of the campaign.  You announced at the “all candidates meeting” (which my young staff and I attended) that there is no way for people to directly contact anyone through the website at City Hall.  You were quite mistaken and apparently you had not fully looked at the website, which is actually quite informative. In fact, every person and department is listed with phone numbers and email addresses on the “Contact Us” tab. You appeared very “uninformed” and “not very current” to the youth of this community – just as the last mayor. I hope you will focus  on social media as well as “old fashioned” contact with the community so that you are reaching out to people under 50.

2.  We employ 6-8 people under 30 years old in our business. They, and we, are truly disappointed that candidates run their campaigns on “let’s bring lots of retirees” and lots of “trades training.” Truly, there is absolutely very little reason for anyone with a college or university education to come or remain in Campbell River. We are suffering from a “brain drain” in the community – no professionals and no managers. I beg you to focus your work on job creation and retention – especially in the professional, managerial, and business owner sector.  Without those young people and young families here who form the longer term tax base, we won’t survive or be able to support all those retirees who pay a lower tax rate and spend very little money in the community, yet want to take advantage of all the services (and without paying any more taxes – all just ludicrous in my view).

Someone needs to get this right.  This is a huge problem with young families who need to export their highest wage earner to Fort Mac, etc.

I know you won your campaign based on your retiree constituency, but you really must reach out to the young community as they are leaving in droves.  Our children in their 20’s and 30’s no longer want to stay in Campbell River as there are no jobs for them.  Please help. Retirees are great (I’m 60), but a community cannot survive on them alone.  Please broaden your message to include the youth. My staff and their circle of friends are so disappointed. Most want to move to Victoria, Vancouver or Calgary – somewhere they can raise a family in a two parent household and make a decent wage as a result of their education.  They are all smart enough to know that even the Hydro project will not provide long term job sustainability.  We have got to focus on bringing a wide variety of jobs to our city – not just trades jobs.  I’m sorry to say that they view your win as a backward move for our community – just another mill manager to keep harping on trades and unions jobs, but no real professional or independent small business focus. I hope you will receive this message in a positive way, take it to heart, and know that we will support you wholeheartedly as long as you are working towards future economic growth in Campbell River for all ages.

Best of Luck and good hard work during your mayor ship and council terms  (and, Mr. Jakeway, I hope you will wear a suit and tie and be called Mr. Mayor).

Denise Mitchell-Hills

Campbell River