Cranky blogger takes Daily News editorial board to task
email to the Daily News Thurs Apr 29 in response to editorial concerning the departure of the Economic Development Officer…
To the editor:
When the Daily News editorial board, given the shear mass of grey cells it must contain, offers economic development advice I wonder how its parent company Canwest ever got in such financial difficulty. Did the Canwest board not have the good sense to tap this great depth of wisdom?
The editorial of April 29, informs us how urgent it is to replace outgoing Economic Development Officer Marilyn Hutchinson as there are “pressing issues… to address”. The editorial board has done us a great service though in identifying priorities for us – build a hotel, it’ll fix the problems with the conference centre. Secure a passenger ferry service into Vancouver harbour.
The editorial fills out the list with a multiplex and “dozens of important infrastructure projects”. OK, it’s short on detail and there’s no mention of long term strategic planning or risk analysis or best practices elsewhere.
The editorial also clarifies for us the role of an Economic Development Officer — “The city needs an economic development officer to ensure projects… stickhandle their way through the city’s bureaucracy easily and not derailed.” I’m not sure if this isn’t more the role of a tour guide than an Economic Development Officer, but whatever…
It all seems so simple looked at through the viewfinder of the Daily News editorial board.
was forming a cranky letter to the editor about this very same editorial. I was going to take the approach that starts with, “If we are paying an economic development person to do the sort of things you listed as urgent in your editorial, then we are wasting a lot of money.”
Did we really take 1.9 million dollars out of our budget to promote pie-in-the-sky projects such as the conference centre hotel, the multiplex and the foot passenger ferry service? True these are very nice projects, most of us would like them realized, but none of them are viable. Why would we hire somebody to promote projects that are bound to fail? How is this a service to businesses and how does this serve our city? If these are the kinds of projects our economic development officials are promoting, then we could just as easily flushed our money down a toilet.
Mr. Kenning said the new economic development board wants to go in a new direction. Really? That sounds good to me. Frankly, I would sure like to know which direction they plan on going before anyone to replace Hutchinson is hired. I encourage this board to take their time. I would urge them to make more realistic plans for our economic development; after all, this is Vancouver Island not Fantasy Island.
Ok, but this one supports MH:
To stick handle through the crap at City Hall you need a person, a single person that can get things done. A committee, particularly with ties to the voting public will never agree, let alone get things done, ever.
MH was good at what she did / does and will find work in the same field. Change of the guard is ok but for the sake of it is bad.
Economic development is generally thankless – particularly here in this city. This position must deal with all the immediate issues which have been in the works for 5 to 10 years plus must accurately generate targets for 10 to 20 years down the road. Without a plan, direction or committment we will forever be stuck in the NIMBY whiner mode that we are very known for!
Where’s the WHL hockey team and multiplex? What about the completed freeway / parkway that was promised 18 years ago? Then there is the debackle with the city acting as a developer for the hotel, the lack of vision on the re/re of port place, a real transit hub? City road infrastructure that actually works and is safe to use? One could even lump the goof troop at the school board into that with their misplaced ideals about school closures and missing out on funding but that’s a different topic.
Look, this region has got to really start planning for the future. Simply put we live in the best place in the country and as more and more retire, guess where they come… We have got to stop thinking that the RDN is 250K people and start thinking that it is 750K like it will be in 30 years – I’m certain of that.
Off my soap box.
What you are requesting requires foresight and action instead of apathy and reaction. The question is: How do we get there from here? One way might be to do some long range planning -and with it an implementation strategy. I would hold that one of the reasons change comes so hard in this town is that there seems to be no awareness of the kinds of changes that can be expected in our neighbourhoods and thus every change is both unanticipated and feared.
Do you have some suggestions as to how we can change the municipal culture?
How do we get there from here?I suggest the answer is clear.The City needs new ideas and this will not happen unless and until the voters elect progressive individuals with good judgement and intelligence to Council.I am on the record elsewhere herein that a large broom should also be taken to some senior staff to sweep them from their positions in the decision making process.New people,new ideas,new and better Nanaimo.
Well, being a project manager by both education and trade I know how to get there from here. Trouble is most people, particularly the elected ones don’t want to do anything that rocks the boat!
We have to spend money to make it but at what percentage is the key to the success of the topic at hand.
Everyone who has been here for at least 40 years gets complacent and may or may not recognize the potential or the benefit to certain things and as I indicated when the popualtion triples in the next 30 years and those of us still around will wonder “what the f*ck just happened?” and “where did all these people come from?” We see it in Kelowna, Calgary, Surrey, Abbotsford, Langford, Courtney and even places like Fort Mac, Regina and PG. Some areas have been able to grasp the term growth and deal with it whilst others have not or can not and it is very evident in how big a hole they are trying to dig themselves out of. We are getting close to that edge and without a game plan of how to cross that bridge we will find ourselves in the bottom of a similar hole with very little idea of how to get out.
Trust me when I say that most business owners aren’t project managers and few understand that it can pay dividends to contract to a consultant or groups of consultants that do this for a living and get things pointed in the right direction. It makes much more sense for a 3rd party to deal with many of things then an elected body because if it goes right the council sees the reward, attracts the investment etc. and if it does not they can point fingers at the consultant and at the end of the day keep their job and wait for the next election.
Oops, WS, that “very true” comment was for your post here.
I think we could start by defining economic development for the sake of clarity. To my mind highways, multiplexes, publicly funded conference centres and hotels, foot passenger ferries do not represent economic development. Economic development happens when a business opens it’s doors and thrives. It pays the same taxes as every other business and it receives nothing from the city of Nanaimo except some good advice and a great opportunity.
Any “private enterprise” that requires grants of public monies or grants of public land does not represent economic development. And businesses that require these things to establish themselves need only be given a map with directions on how to leave town.
If there is any planning to do, its to identify, locate and count the populations of various markets for goods and services, then find any gaps. A gap represents a solid opportunity for somebody.
Otherwise leave planning to planners. They will focus on the various methods to make the city more efficient and that will be their great contribution to economic development.