Whatever happened to level playing fields?

Council should consider the consequences of promoting change

I would like to ask city council what makes the “Special Commercial Area” so special that they are blessed with an overnight change in the bylaws allowing their already existing tax exemptions (50 per cent for 2009-2012) to be doubled to 100 per cent for the following five years?

What has happened in Campbell River’s Business community in regards to free enterprise and level playing fields? Has it not occurred to any of city council (since they unanimously adopted the Downtown Revitalization Amendment Bylaw No. 3472 last Tuesday) that giving unfair advantage to one segment of the city’s business area is to the detriment of the businesses operating with that same city?

As Mayor Walter Jakeway said, there’s something happening there” with this specific development proposal and it should be opened up to debate and full disclosure; including all of Campbell River’s business owners in the forum.

What will happen when the new and/or improved businesses in the Special Commercial Area bleed Campbell River’s other businesses dry of the few customers that keep them afloat?

Is city council blind to the fact that they are bleeding their own city’s businesses dry in order to try and give life support to a small portion of the downtown area? How is it possible that this is being overlooked? Some special interests are obviously being served here. Have none of the city’s councillors ever owned a commercial property? If not, have they ever entertained the notion of hiring business advisors (as the running of a city is essentially the running of a business) so as to foresee the ramifications which such nonsensical business practices as these produce? Did you truly not glean any business sense from the recent economic bailouts? It is a shame that part of the downtown core kept their leases high while not maintaining their properties but that was their choice under a free enterprise system. Bailing them out is most definitely giving way to special interests at the cost of those already facing down the struggles of trying to keep their own businesses afloat.

If city council is open to giving tax incentives, those incentives should be open to all businesses. For example, of a business invests their own capital in improving their property, they could then submit their receipts for a 100 per cent credit of the balance, to be deducted from their following year’s commercial property tax. This would keep our entire community looking well-maintained as several business areas of Campbell River are in a poor state.

One last thought: Mayor Jakeway was also reported as saying, “We had an initiative come at us right out of the blue since being sworn in.” Did any of the new council consider that perhaps their inexperience and eagerness to promote change may make them easily manipulated? Please sit back and take a moment to consider the consequences for all involved before rushing into such matters such as this one.

Lee Waldo

Campbell River