Key excerpts from Dennis Strand’s 2007 op-ed about CVEDS
Did Comox Valley Committe of the Comox-Strathcona Regional District in 2002 intend for the Economic Development Society to take over Comox Valley Tourism and keep its funding?
They did not, according to the former chair of the committee.
In an op-ed article published in the Dec. 21, 2007 edition of the Comox Valley Record, Dennis Strand says it was the regional district’s intention for CVEDS to only collate and distribute funds, not make decisions to curtail them.
Strand was a former Comox Councillor and former chair of the Comox Valley Committee of the Comox-Strathcona Regional District before it was split into two regional districts later in 2008. From 2001 to 2004, he chaired the committee that oversaw funding for tourism and economic development.
Strand wrote his article after the Comox Valley Economic Development Society cut off funding to Tourism Comox Valley and assumed all of its destination marketing functions.
Here is the key excerpt of his article:
“One function (of the Comox Valley Committee that he chaired) was approving the budgets of Tourism Comox Valley, Economic Development, Courtenay Chamber of Commerce, Cumberland Chamber of Commerce, and Denman and Hornby Island tourism.
“In my first year as chair of the committee, we dealt with each budget individually based on their selective requests. This amounted to a combined total of $250,000-plus of taxpayers’ money.
“In the second and third years, the suggestion was made and it was voted on to have Economic Development review all the above budgets and bring one single amount forward. It was determined that this would be more efficient and less time consuming.
“This is where it gets interesting.
“The EDS contracted for, if my memory is correct, $10,000 annually to bring in the budget package. I thought of it in the more practical sense as parents giving one child the right to pass out candy to the other four children.
“I always wondered if it would come back to haunt anyone and maybe now it has.
“Economic Development is contracted to the regional district to administer funds fairly and equitably only, not to cut funds to Tourism Comox Valley, for example, and then suggest the two merge, i.e. not giving candy to one sibling.
“The tourism board is made up of local business and professional folks and the economic development board is made up of some politicians, some political appointments and some members of the community at large.
“Does Economic Development have justification to make these sweeping changes because the political appointees vote a certain way at the board level? The answer is unequivocally no. Economic Development is only on contract to the regional district and has limited powers.
“Political appointments are a very valuable commodity, but they are not voted in by taxpayers. My opinion, and the base of my concern, is that this dilemma can only be resolved by the new regional board. It is the only entity with the authority to make the final budget decisions.
“In my last year as chair, the idea of combining these two was brought forward but there was no political will for them to merge. Economic Development and Tourism CV are like apples and oranges; they supply specific services, but have different philosophies.
“If the 300+ Tourism CV members were surveyed today, as they were two or three years ago, to see whether they are interested in joining with Economic Development, I expect the answer would be a resounding no again because they have separate roles and want separate budgets.
“With the incredible growth in the Valley, the work of the EDS is essential. As well, with the 2010 Olympics approaching, Tourism Comox Valley is more important than ever.”
Note: Decafnation attempted to contact Dennis Strand, but did not receive a reply
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