Shirley and Paul Brown share how the CRH pathologist shortage impacted their lives

Shirley and Paul Brown share how the CRH pathologist shortage impacted their lives

Shirley and Dr. Paul Brown  |  Submitted photo

Shirley and Paul Brown share how the CRH pathologist shortage impacted their lives

By George Le Masurier

Ever since the Vancouver Island Health Authority started reducing pathologist services at Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals in 2013, North Island citizens have endured longer wait times for their biopsy and other lab results.

Many have complained. And health care professionals and some local government officials have added their voices to the need to restore full laboratory services to the North Island hospitals.

But VIHA, sometimes called Island Health, has denied that reduced pathologist services have created delays in test results.

Now, a well-known Campbell River physician and his wife have come forward with their personal story about how Island Health’s policies have impacted their lives.

MORE: Patients suffer from reduced pathologist services

Dr. Paul Brown, a Campbell River family doctor for 40 years, has launched a series of complaints to Island Health, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the BC Health Ministry and local officials regarding a significant delay in a cancer diagnosis that caused his wife anxiety and altered her cancer treatment plan.

Brown told Decafnation this week that his wife, Shirley, had a routine surgical procedure on Dec. 9 at CRH to remove an ovarian cyst.

Five weeks later, the pathology report was still unavailable. Shirley was anxious to learn the outcome of her surgery.

Because Brown knew the system, he called the pathology department at Campbell River Hospital and discovered the problem. There was only one pathologist working during the time that Shirley’s samples were being processed.

The pathologist had not yet reviewed the slides and had not made a diagnosis. He was prompted to review her slides and consult with his colleague who had just returned from holiday.

Two days later, Shirley learned that she had cancer.

It took another 10 days for a specialist pathologist in Victoria to confirm the diagnosis. Shirley saw an oncologist at the Victoria Cancer Clinic two months after her surgery.

 

PATHOLOGIST SHORTAGE

The hospital has two full-time pathologists, but when Island Health unilaterally transferred all clinical pathologist services to a private corporation in Victoria, called the Vancouver Island Clinical Pathology Consulting Corporation, CRH lost funding to hire a needed third pathologist.

Currently, CRH’s two pathologists must cover each other’s shifts, vacation time, sick time and other required absences. That means that for a third of the year, up to 18 weeks, CRH may have only one pathologist on duty.

The delay in receiving the confirmed diagnosis moved the oncologists to start chemotherapy before the recommended surgery to stage the cancer and remove any visible tumour. Shirley completed chemotherapy in June.

At the end of July, she had surgery to complete staging and to remove visible cancer. A small deposit of cancer was found at her second surgery and more chemotherapy has been prescribed.

If the pathology report had been delivered in the recommended time frame, she would likely have had surgery first, followed by chemotherapy a couple of weeks later.

It is impossible to predict the outcome of that scenario but the treatment plan would have been completed much sooner, and Shirley would have experienced much less anxiety by knowing the stage of her cancer.

 

DISINGENUOUS REPLY FROM ISLAND HEALTH

Seven months ago, Brown initially complained to Island Health’s Patient Care Quality Office and he’s still waiting for a response. Every 20 days or so, he receives an email saying they are still working on the file.

He has also contacted North Island MLA Claire Trevena, Health Minister Adrian Dix and his deputy minister. He has not received a reply from any of them.

It’s an understatement to say the Browns are “frustrated by the lack of engagement by elected officials.”

Brown did get a reply to a letter he sent to Dr. Robertson, Island Health’s executive director of lab and pathology, on March 16 of this year. In this letter, Brown described what he considered were the troubling aspects of his wife’s case, including the delay in getting a diagnosis.

“I cannot express the anguish that this delay in diagnosis has caused us … (and it has) left me with concerns regarding the safety of the current delivery of lab and pathology services at CRG,” Brown wrote to Robertson.

In a reply dated May 20, Robertson denied any knowledge that having one pathologist on duty presented a problem.

Brown replied to Robertson on May 25 to refute this claim.

“The fact that you, as you have asserted in your letter, were unaware of concern regarding delays in surgical turnaround times when one of the pathologists was on holiday is incorrect,” Brown wrote.

Brown’s reply refers to several meetings that Roberston attended where the concerns were openly discussed, including the July 22, 2019 Campbell River City Council meeting and the April 11, 2019 meeting of the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board.

Brown told Robertson that to profess no knowledge of the concerns was “disingenuous to say the least.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INFO TO KNOW ABOUT OVARIAN CANCER

 

Symptoms
Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
Abdominal bloating or swelling
Quickly feeling full when eating
Weight loss
Discomfort in the pelvis area
Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
A frequent need to urinate

When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your risk of ovarian cancer. Your doctor may refer you to a genetic counsellor to discuss testing for certain gene mutations that increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

— www.mayoclinic.org

 

 

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More Health Care | Latest Feature

Petition put to BC Legislature: restore North Island pathology

North Island MLA Claire Trevena presented a petition signed by over 2,500 people to the BC Legislature Nov. 20 that calls for the return of onsite clinical pathologists’ services to the Campbell River Hospital and to investigate possible conflicts of interest within Island Health

Last two CVH pathologists resign angry and exasperated by Island Health tactics

Last two CVH pathologists resign angry and exasperated by Island Health tactics

Dr. Chris Bellamy, a well-known pathologist who practiced in the Comox Valley for 31 years  |  submitted photo

Last two CVH pathologists resign angry and exasperated by Island Health tactics

By George Le Masurier

For the past 31 years, Dr. Chris Bellamy has been a stabilizing figure in the Comox Valley hospitals’ medical laboratories. The mild-mannered pathologist earned the respect of his colleagues by working days and often nights to provide timely and accurate diagnoses for physicians and patients.

His stellar reputation extended beyond the Comox Valley. His peers around the province recruited him to serve on professional boards and committees, including one that revisited pathologist workload models and studied how they should be used in pathologists contracts provincially.

He mentored a wide array of medical technicians and laboratory assistants and provided them with the real-life education that can only be learned on the job.

When Bellamy first came to St. Joseph’s General Hospital in 1989, he was the Comox Valley’s only pathologist. As a general pathologist he did both the clinical and anatomical streams of the medical specialty. 

As the community’s population grew and the hospital’s workload increased, Bellamy was joined by Dr. Wayne Donn in 1999 and Dr. Stefania Giobbe in 2015, also general pathologists. The three doctors covered for each other’s vacation time and shared the after-hours calls and weekend work.

But this rosy scenario took a dark turn about seven years ago when the Vancouver Island Health Authority (sometimes called Island Health) unilaterally started to implement a plan to eliminate general pathologists on the North Island.

MORE: The issue in a nutshell

In the future, VIHA planned to provide only anatomical pathology services on-site and turn all clinical pathology over to a private corporation of doctors in Victoria, called the Vancouver Island Clinical Pathology Consulting Corporation.

Island Health started this change in 2013, but only at the Campbell River Hospital, where complaints of long wait times for results — some as long as six weeks for a cancer diagnosis — began almost immediately. 

The Comox Valley pathologists who worked at St. Joseph’s General Hospital, which was not under Island Health’s control, had different contracts that allowed them to practice general pathology and that remained in place through the opening of the new Comox Valley Hospital.

Island Health couldn’t take clinical pathology away from Bellamy, Donn and Giobbe, but it could encourage and pressure them to leave.

And it could refuse, after Dr. Giobbe went on extended medical leave in 2018, to provide any support to ease the workload. In response to requests from Bellamy and Donn for help, Island Health’s answer was to send the work to Victoria.

So it all came to an acrimonious end on June 21 when Bellamy and Donn jointly resigned. They gave two months notice.

“I was just exasperated and angry,” Bellamy told Decafnation. “I really felt forced out. VIHA was relentless in their pressure.”

“Politicians need to have their feet held to the fire”

According to sources within the Comox Valley Hospital, the Island Health announcement of Bellamy’s and Donn’s resignations did not thank the doctors for their years of service.

“And it was sent to the smallest audience possible,” the source said.

Bellamy said he feels sad for patients and staff, “who are bearing the brunt of what’s happening here.”

Their absence for the past two months has caused chaos at the CVH laboratory where most laboratory work is now shipped to Victoria. This has created longer wait times and has provoked some emotional patients to turn up at the lab, desperate for their biopsy results.

Since the pathologists resigned in August, Island Health has been unable to recruit any doctors willing to practice only anatomical pathology at the Comox Valley Hospital. The jobs remain vacant.

 

VICTORIA WAVES OFF CONCERNS

Dr. Chris Bellamy has been warning Island Health executives and North Island politicians about the dangers of shipping biopsy samples to Victoria to no avail. Now, he’s joining the call for a full external review of the situation.

Bellamy, Giobbe and Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a Campbell River general pathologist, met with Comox Valley MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard on Aug. 11, 2017, just prior to the opening of the new Comox Valley Hospital. North Island MLA Claire Trevena was also invited but did not attend.

MORE: 2020 candidates address the issue

The doctors’ goal was to save microbiology and other lab services from being moved from CVH to Victoria. They explained how even minutes counted in making a diagnosis. For example, they said in serious infections, such as meningitis, mortality rates nearly double if the diagnosis takes longer than an hour.

But Leonard said she would not interfere in what she perceived as an Island Health operational issue.

“If politicians don’t want to interfere in the daily operations of VIHA that can impact patient care and safety, then who is accountable?” Bellamy told Decafnation.

Bellamy now believes that an independent review is necessary because there is no accountability within Island Health for the delivery of lab services.

“You can’t point to any one person and say they are responsible,” he said. “It’s a matrix organizational structure, a latticework of managers who all point the finger of responsibility in another direction.”

Bellamy made further attempts to retain lab services on the North Island at meetings with Island Health and VICPCC doctors in 2019 and as late as March of this year. None were successful.

By summer, “it was game over,” for Bellamy and Donn. “From then on, it was just a matter of how to extricate ourselves from the situation,” he said.

 

BEYOND PATIENT CONCERNS

With Bellamy and Donn gone, the North Island now has no on-site clinical pathologist services. All of that work is now shipped to Victoria, mostly by courier.

That change has raised more concerns than long wait times and impacts on patient treatment plans. There are allegations of conflict of interest within Island Health.

Island Health signed it’s first multi-million dollar two-year contract with VICPCC in 2014. It signed a second two-year contract in 2017 under a non-disclosure agreement.

In the meeting with MLA Leonard in 2017, Bellamy, Tabarsi and Giobbe questioned the priority of these contracts.

“It is scandalous that a public body like Island Health would use taxpayer money to sign a multi-million contract with a private, for-profit corporation under a non-disclosure agreement,” the doctors wrote in their presentation to Leonard.

MORE: Medical centralization risks to public

And they alleged conflict of interest in how the contracts were awarded.

“Island Health allows some of the senior VICPCC shareholders to hold key administrative positions … including department and division heads who then dictate changes in service delivery to the detriment of the patients of the North Island and to their own financial benefit,” according to the presentation.

Island Health maintains there was no conflict of interest and has relied on a ruling by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, whose function is to protect the public.

Bellamy says Island Health has wrongly interpreted the College’s ruling.

“The College didn’t say there wasn’t any conflict, only that there was no conflict that had conclusively resulted in patient harm,” he said. “There was no absolute proof that patient care had been compromised because at the time no citizen had formally complained to the college.”

Since then, however, a citizen has made a formal complaint to the College, and there have been complaints to Island Health’s Patient Quality Care Office.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

Dr. Donn has already taken another job in the Fraser Valley. Dr. Giobbe remains on medical leave.

Dr. Bellamy is taking time to decide whether to go back to work in another capacity or to retire. Regardless of what his future holds, Bellamy says he wants to see this issue finally resolved.

“Politicians need to have their feet held to the fire,” he said. “The Comox Valley Hospital laboratory service is no longer good value for money and Island Health won’t change without public pressure.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEDICAL TERMS USED IN THIS ARTICLE

Anatomical pathology deals with tissue biopsies, such as biopsies from breast, colon, skin and liver.

Clinical pathology deals with body fluids such as blood, urine and spinal fluid, and includes three areas of specialization:

Microbiology deals with the identification of infectious organisms.

General pathologists are medical specialists who study an additional five years in all areas of pathology.

Clinical pathologists are medical specialists who study the same additional five years but in only one of the areas of specialization.

 

 

 

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More Health Care | Latest Feature

Petition put to BC Legislature: restore North Island pathology

North Island MLA Claire Trevena presented a petition signed by over 2,500 people to the BC Legislature Nov. 20 that calls for the return of onsite clinical pathologists’ services to the Campbell River Hospital and to investigate possible conflicts of interest within Island Health

Comox Valley Hospital loses another medical service: how the candidates respond

Comox Valley Hospital loses another medical service: how the candidates respond

The Comox Valley Hospital  |  Decafnation file photo

Comox Valley Hospital loses another medical service: how the candidates respond

By George Le Masurier

The Comox Valley Hospital no longer has any on-site pathologists. Dr. Chris Bellamy and Dr. Wayne Donn both resigned on June 21, exasperated by Island Health’s refusal to adequately staff its North Island medical laboratories. Their last day was Aug. 21.

Their absence for the past two months has caused chaos at the CVH laboratory and lengthened the time that patients wait to receive test results. This has provoked some emotional patients to turn up at the lab, desperate for their biopsy results.

While this is a new reality at the Comox Valley Hospital, the reduction in on-site pathology services at the Campbell River Hospital has impacted the North Island for several years. It’s part of Island Health’s plan to centralize some medical services in Victoria.

But despite pleas for help from family doctors and other health care workers, individuals and groups such as the Citizens for Quality Health Care and the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board and other North Island municipal governments, neither Island Health or the NDP provincial government have responded with any relief.

And while the North Island’s concerns have focused on patient care, there are also allegations of conflict of interest within Island Health and the claim that taxpayers are no longer receiving the services they were promised and continue to pay for.

Decafnation asked each of the provincial candidates in the Courtenay-Comox riding to address this issue (with no limit on length). Here are their unedited responses (in the order they were received):

 

GILLIAN ANDERSON — BC Green Party

While I am unaware of all of the factors involved with this decision, in principle, I am in favour of health care being delivered in patients’ home communities as much as possible. This strengthens our local healthcare system and creates jobs. When patients and families are waiting longer for test results, there is added worry and stress. What is the price of additional sleepless nights waiting for a result?

As the MLA for Courtenay-Comox, I would listen to the concerns of individuals across the riding and I would work towards a solution that addresses all of the issues involved.

 

 

 

BRENNAN DAY — BC Liberal Party

I took the time to consult with Dr. Bellamy on this issue, and what I heard was extremely concerning.

When St. Josephs was running, our community had a full-service laboratory, providing both anatomical and clinical pathology services; they had the autonomy to hire staff and general pathology was the priority with a focus on patient care here in the Comox Valley

During the planning phase of the new hospital, the pathology department was designed to be full service, in keeping with the St Josephs model, which was working well. The costing and design of the new hospital had this budgeted. At some point in the consultation process, Island Health pushed for microbiology to be removed from the hospital and centralized in Victoria, an experiment that had been tried in Campbell River previously with a resulting marked increase in turnaround times of results.

During the hospital planning process, the head of microbiology for Island Health lobbied the VIHA hospital planning committee for removal of microbiology services to Victoria while being a shareholder in a private company providing these services and therefore having a financial interest in the decision; the fact that this scandalous move was not more broadly reported is shameful as it has directly impacted the quality of healthcare here in the North Island.

Once the plan to centralize services in Victoria had been rammed through by VIHA, the taxpayers in the Comox Valley were stuck with the same tax bill, but considerably less local services and longer wait times. VIHA is currently in the process of transferring more clinical lab services from Comox Valley hospital to the private company in Victoria with further erosion of local services.

This is unacceptable.

Our current MLA was contacted multiple times by concerned physicians, nurses, and techs, but their concerns fell on deaf ears and no action was taken to advocate on behalf of the Comox Valley.

An independent external review must immediately be undertaken to analyze the decisions made by VIHA, as the costs have not been reduced by this decision, only the service we are receiving.

We need to build compassion back into the healthcare we are paying for in the Comox Valley, which was so well done by St Josephs for decades, and look hard at whether the VIHA regional governance model is really working, or if it is simply an organization with a bloated middle and little to no accountability to the taxpayers of the Island.

Our community and those affected by long wait times for serious diagnosis through this system are being ignored. I will make sure I advocate loudly to put compassion back into local healthcare, and ensure we are getting the services we deserve.

 

RONNA-RAE LEONARD — BC New Democrat Party

The challenge of privatized services is ensuring profit does not override the protection of the public interest. The previous BC Liberal government facilitated the privatization of many services that people rely on, from hospitals to hospital services, from long term care to home care, and so much more. There have been many negative consequences that the John Horgan government turned its attention toward, to bring the public interest back into the forefront.

We repealed the BC Liberal’s Bill 29 and Bill 94 and then introduced Bill 47 to remove the major financial incentives of contract flipping for companies which created an underpaid and unstable healthcare workforce and deprived seniors of a proper standard of care. We brought back community homecare to direct government services when homecare services became compromised. We brought the contracts for laundry and food services at the Comox and Campbell River Hospital back into the public system.

The quality of care and timeliness of service is also at the root of the concerns over pathology service. The BCNDP is committed to providing the care people need where and when they need it. A commitment to a 10-year cancer care plan demonstrates the closer to home commitment for the North Island, with a new Cancer Centre in Nanaimo.

The pathology services contract was awarded under the BC Liberals and was extended for one more year. It will be reviewed after that. We absolutely agree that lab services should be maintained in Courtenay and Campbell River, that’s why we’re hiring more people now. We’ve accomplished much, but there is still so much more to do. We can’t afford to go back to the BC Liberals.

 

 

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OCT. 24 PROVINCIAL ELECTION INFORMATION

The 2020 provincial election takes place on Oct. 24.

Advance voting is underway at various locations today in Comox, Courtenay and Merville and tomorrow in Black Creek, Comox and Courtenay.

Candidates in the Courtenay-Comox riding are incumbent Ronna-Rae Leonard (NDP), Gillian Anderson (BC Greens) and Brennan Day (BC Liberals).

In the last election (2017), 66.89 percent of the riding’s 43,671 registered voters cast a ballot. The results were:

NDP Ronna-Rae Leonard received 10,886 votes or 37.36%

BC Liberal Jim Benninger — 10,697 votes or 36.72%

Green Ernie Sellentin — 5,351 votes or 18.37%

Leah McCulloch — 2,201 votes or 7.55%

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More Health Care | Latest Feature

Petition put to BC Legislature: restore North Island pathology

North Island MLA Claire Trevena presented a petition signed by over 2,500 people to the BC Legislature Nov. 20 that calls for the return of onsite clinical pathologists’ services to the Campbell River Hospital and to investigate possible conflicts of interest within Island Health

A shifting political climate means change for 32-year-old society, but board still divided

A shifting political climate means change for 32-year-old society, but board still divided

Responsibility for management of the Comox Valley Visitors Centre is one of many items under discussion by CVRD directors 

A shifting political climate means change for 32-year-old society, but board still divided

By George Le Masurier

Achanging political climate that brought new faces and fresh perspectives to the Comox Valley Regional District boardroom has thrust the three-decade-old Comox Valley Economic Development Society into an uncertain future.

And that uncertainty has been compounded by a regional district board that appears to have been ill-prepared to renegotiate the society’s existing contract by its March 31 expiration date.

Ten months after serving notice last June of its intent to enter contract negotiations, the board still struggled with an irreconcilable diversity of opinions about whether the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) should be scrapped, tweaked or left in its present form.

And further hampered at the last minute by the COVID pandemic, regional directors ultimately punted its decision-making into the future.

In the interim, the CVRD signed a revised two-year contract with CVEDS provided less funding and made more demands for accountability.

“It was a poor process. Guilty as charged,” CVRD Director Doug Hillian

They also created a three-director Liaison Committee to review the society’s performance and explore new models for delivering economic development, destination marketing and Visitor Centre management.

The regional district originally created the Economic Development Society in 1988 as an arms-length organization with its own governing body to “… encourage the responsible expansion of the Comox Valley economic base.”

Operating under the guidance of its own hand-picked board of directors, the society ballooned into an agency for destination marketing and industry event productions.

But the 2018 municipal elections brought a new, more progressive political perspective to Courtenay’s municipal government and to some rural electoral areas and created change that eventually spread to the regional district.

The old status-quo regime was out. Younger and more progressive thinking was in.

Two years later, that new political climate has begun to impact the Comox Valley Economic Development Society.

Blank cheque, free rein and unquestioned allegiance are now out. Financial transparency, increased scrutiny and meaningful performance reviews are in.

 

A REGIONAL BOARD DIVIDED

In June of 2019, the Comox Valley Regional District announced its intention to renegotiate their existing five-year contract with CVEDS, which was due to expire on March 31, 2020. That gave elected officials more than nine months to gather the information they needed to assess the effectiveness of the 32-year-old society and chart a course for its future.

But by the expiry date, the board had not yet held sufficient meaningful discussions to produce a majority view about how or whether to revamp CVEDS.

Sensing the philosophical divide and without clear direction from directors, CVRD staff did not push the board for a timely contract decision. Nor had the board garnered helpful information from a consultants report that had been conducted on narrow, contract-specific terms of reference.

CVRD Director Doug Hillian said he was “disappointed” in the evaluation. For starters, the consultants delivered their report late, well past the Dec. 31, 2019 deadline. Hillian said it was one of the factors that delayed the contract negotiations.

“I had hoped the full report would have given more insight than it did,” Hillian told Decafnation. “It was unsatisfactory on every level.”

“Economic development has been at arms length, in its own silo, for so long, but we’re understanding now that it needs to be part of the whole,” CVRD Chair Jesse Ketler

CVRD board chair Jesse Ketler agreed.

“The performance review was purely contractual and was no help to directors in reaching agreement on how to approach the CVEDS contract,” Ketler told Decafnation. “In fact, in some ways, the report made the problem worse.”

Without a guiding document, the discord among directors became a stalemate.

“There was disagreement among directors on how to proceed with CVEDS and the conflict was tense,” Ketler said.

The CVRD board did have discussions during which numerous aspects of CVEDS were identified that people wanted to be examined or changed. But no director ever made a motion or proposal to either seek a new model or to sever the contract with CVEDS.

However, as the contract deadline approached, staff initiated the idea of holding a board-only workshop to get directors on the same page about the best way to handle economic development, tourism marketing and Visitor Centre management.

But before the workshop could take place, the COVID virus struck. The workshop was cancelled and dealing with the pandemic lockdown became the board’s priority.

Just this week, the CVRD board rescheduled the workshop for mid-October.

“It was a poor process. Guilty as charged,” CVRD Director Doug Hillian told Decafnation. “There was not enough in-depth discussion until it was too late due to failings of the performance evaluation and the onset of the pandemic.”

“It would have been helpful to have had a working committee and the workshop much earlier.”

So the hope of reaching a long-term plan for economic development and other services was made more difficult, according to Board Chair Ketler.

“But the board felt it needed to do something in the short-term to respond to COVID,” she said.

The answer was to form the Economic Recovery Task Force while continuing to negotiate a new contract with CVEDS.

The CVRD and CVEDS finally reached an agreement on July 27, four months past the expiry date. The two-year contract required CVEDS staff to provide administrative support for the Economic Recovery Task Force.

(Editor’s note: See the sidebar information on this page.)

Among other changes, the new agreement included the formation of a Liaison Committee of the CVRD board to continue discussions with the CVEDS board of directors about its future, and to review and clarify specific deliverables required in the contract.

 

A CONTENTIOUS COMMITTEE

During a contentious meeting on August 25, the CVRD board selected three directors to form the Liaison Committee: Chair Doug Hillian, Area B Director Arzeena Hamir and Comox Director Maureen Swift.

At first, Area C Director Edwin Grieve proposed Hillian, Comox Director Ken Grant and Area A Director Daniel Arbour to form the committee. But several directors opposed this composition, including Courtenay Director Will Cole-Hamilton.

“Over the next two years, there is the opportunity to see if this model is sustainable or not,” Hillian

“I will vote against this composition. There are different schools of thought around this table that were quite divisive during the course of our sessions,” he said at the August meeting. “This group of people — and I count myself among them — have reservations about this agreement and it would be good to have representatives on that (liaison) committee who clearly represent that viewpoint.”

Cole-Hamiltion added that the board will only come out of the process united “and with a clear conscience if the full spectrum of viewpoints is represented appropriately and respectfully.”

That led Grant and Arbour to withdraw their names from the nomination.

Grant said he was stepping out because he couldn’t “see this going in any way” to make the CVEDS service better.

Comox Director Maureen Swift and Arzeena Hamir were then nominated, with Grant and Swift cast the lone votes against adding Hamir to the committee.

 

HILLIAN, KETLER ARE OPTIMISTIC

Despite its rough start, Hillian told Decafnation last week that he’s optimistic about what the committee can achieve.

“This opens the door for discussions about whether CVEDS is in sync with community and board values, whether the relationships impacted over the years are salvageable — whether this is a structure that the board wants to continue investing in for the long-term,” he said.

Board Chair Ketler believes the values of CVEDS need to align with the changing values of our community and that of the CVRD board.

“Economic development has been at arms length, in its own silo, for so long, but we’re understanding now that it needs to be part of the whole,” she told Decafnation. “We see that now especially with COVID — things like housing, food, health and a safe environmental are all foundational to economic prosperity.”

Hillian hopes the committee’s work can answer questions “such as personnel, operation style and is it the right structure.”

“Over the next two years, there is the opportunity to see if this model is sustainable or not, while also working toward better integration and communication,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW CVRD-CVEDS CONTRACT 

The Comox Valley Economic Development Society has historically benefited from five-year contracts, more than a million dollars in local taxpayer funding and sparse oversight. Their new contract with the regional district, valid for just two more full years, looks dramatically different.

Under the new terms of the agreement signed July 27, the CVRD has, among other things:

— reduced funding by about $160,000 for the remainder of 2020 and by $400,000 (nearly a third of its budget) in 2021 and 2022.

— ordered an annual schedule of remuneration and expenses for all employees earning more than $75,000 per year.

— specified that CVEDS follow Canadian accounting standards, maintain accurate records and permit CVRD inspection.

— required that the five elected officials assigned to the CVEDS board be given a full vote in all board matters.

— imposed mandatory performance reviews of all staff and the executive director.

— created a liaison team to investigate possible structural changes, integration of operations and generally review all aspects of the CVEDS’ function.

Since the contract renewal, destination marketing officer Lara Greasley left for a post at the Town of Comox. And CVEDS has laid off three employees of the Visitors Centre.

The CVEDS staff has also closed their offices above the Comox Valley Art Gallery on Duncan Avenue and moved them into the Visitors Centre near the Island Highway.

 

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More CVEDS | Government | Latest Feature
No CV economic recovery plan yet, lack of destination marketing raises concerns

No CV economic recovery plan yet, lack of destination marketing raises concerns

Goose Spit at twilight: is this the calm before another pandemic storm?

No CV economic recovery plan yet, lack of destination marketing raises concerns

By George Le Masurier

Almost seven months ago, the BC government ordered a lockdown of all but essential businesses and asked residents to stay home in hopes of flattening the curve of new COVID-19 virus infections.

By the time in-province travel restrictions were eased in June as part of BC’s Restart Plan some Comox Valley businesses had permanently closed their doors. Some were already struggling and the loss of several months revenue had sealed their fate. Others simply saw future difficulties that they no longer had the enthusiasm to endure.

On April 9, just weeks after the initial lockdown, the Comox Valley Regional District initiated the formation of an ad hoc Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF).

Five elected officials and representatives from K’omoks First Nation (KFN), CFB Comox and the Comox Valley Economic Development Society vowed to create business case action plans for each industry sector “to help the Comox Valley business community and sectors recover and adapt, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As of this week, the ERTF has not announced any action plans.

“We’re behind the eight-ball compared to some areas”

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells, who co-chairs the ERTF with KFN Chief Nicole Rempel, told Decafnation that the task force’s major action to date has been to collect information and recommendations from each sector of the local business community via a short survey. The responses would then be used to create the business case action plans.

On Sept. 9, Wells said the information gathering from various business sectors hadn’t been completed and wouldn’t be for several more months.

“We’re behind the eight-ball compared to some areas,” he said. “But we’re still building this ship as it’s sailing.”

The delay has irked some hospitality-related business owners, such as Old House Hotel and Spa manager David Rooper. He had hoped there would be a PR and communication plan in place by now, complete with messaging on the Comox Valley’s efforts to support its key industries.

“Exactly what good is a report or action plan months from now, unless the pandemic accelerates,” Rooper told Decafnation.

 

A LACK OF COMMUNICATION

Other business sectors have echoed concerns about a lack of communication from the task force.

“It’s very puzzling,” said Comox Valley Airport Market Development Manager Erin Neely.

She was told a transportation sector task force was going to meet regularly, perhaps weekly. But the group met only once, and she hasn’t heard from the destination marketing arm of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society since the pandemic began.

“I don’t know how they’re going to do a recovery plan without any meetings,” she told Decafnation. “I’m confused.”

The tourism sector has similar concerns.

An April 9 mass email from the CVEDS office to the Comox Valley’s tourism sector, said the ERTF was “… establishing a new Tourism Response and Recovery Task Force to help guide the critical planning, supports and programs needed to assist our local tourism and hospitality sector.”

“The buck stops at the regional district …They oversee CVEDS.”

The email said the group would include anyone from the existing Destination Marketing Advisory Committee (DMAC) and “will likely” meet weekly or bi-weekly in the early stages.

But DMAC members say this group has never met, leaving hospitality businesses out of the loop and troubled by the lack of communication to stakeholders.

Electoral Area B Director Arzeena Hamir isn’t sure whether the tourism task force has had a meeting.

“I got an invitation (to a meeting) but when I got to the Zoom waiting room, they wouldn’t let me in,” she told Decafnation. “I’m not sure what happened there and nobody at CVEDS has returned my emails about it.”

Adding to its communication issues, the ERTF has so far refused to make the minutes of its meetings available to the public.

Task Force Co-Chair Wells released some minutes of ERTF meetings during an August presentation to the regional district board, but meeting agendas and minutes are not posted on the CVRD or CVEDS websites.

“I’m not sure how public that is,” Wells said, referring to the task force’s list of recommendations from individual businesses as well as minutes of its meetings.

 

WHERE’S THE MONEY?

Of greater concern to local tourism-dependent businesses, including the Comox Valley Airport, is the disappearance of the Destination Marketing Advisory Committee, which has not met since March 12.

This has meant no promotion to help area hotels and restaurants recover losses incurred during the initial three-month lockdown, even though the DMAC has industry and public funds in its coffers that are supposed to be spent on marketing the Comox Valley.

When BC Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a program for “Smart and Safe Travel” within the province in late June, other communities, such as Campbell River and Tofino, began actively promoting their regions.

The Comox Valley Record recently published advertising luring people to downtown Parksville.

But Comox Valley hotels and tourist destinations, such as Mt. Washington and Crown Isle, have been left to do their own marketing.

“It’s a conversation that needs to be had,”

To promote tourism in the Comox Valley, the Economic Development Society’s destination marketing committee receives about $300,000 annually, in a normal year, from the two percent Municipal Regional District Tax, commonly called the hotel tax.

CVEDS also collects about $200,000 in matching funds from Destination BC, and additional funding from provincial and federal governments for tourism marketing, as well as about $250,000 for marketing from the CVRD.

The Destination Marketing Advisory Committee plans advertising and communication plans with input from stakeholders, such as hotels and restaurants.

When the pandemic hit, the province said hospitality businesses that pay into the hotel tax could defer their contributions until Sept. 30, 2020, although the tax was not forgiven. They still had to collect and submit the full amount by the end of this month.

But marketing funds contributed by properties that did not defer their contributions were distributed as usual to the sanctioned Destination Marketing Office, which is Comox Valley Economic Development Society.

So the destination marketing division of CVEDS should have an additional sizable pool of new money in October. The province distributes hotel tax funds to marketing agencies during the third week of every month.

“So where’s the money?,” Rooper said. “What’s it being spent on? Why aren’t we spending it right now to market the Comox Valley?”

At the Comox Valley Airport, Neely said she would “love to see the shoulder season marketed.”

Crown Isle Resort General Manager Bill Kelly thinks the decision whether to spend money now to promote the off-season or to save it for a bigger push in 2021 should be made by the members of the DMAC.

“It’s a conversation that needs to be had,” he told Decafnation.

 

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

The last official Destination Marketing Advisory Committee meeting occurred on March 12, six days before the pandemic lockdown.

In an email response to a request for an interview in August, DMAC Chair Bill Anglin referred Decafnation to ERTF co-chairs Wells and Rempel.

“As far as the DMAC is concerned given the current situation with COVID-19, it has (to) be repurposed for the time being and its members have been supporting the mandate of the Economic Recovery Task Force,” Anglin wrote.

That was news to Wells who said the ERTF has nothing to do with destination marketing and that it has given no direction to the DMAC.

Comox Valley Regional District Board Chair Jesse Ketler, who is also a member of the ERTF, said the task force has no direct control over decisions made by the DMAC including what to do with past funds or whether to hold a meeting or not.

“That is not to say that we are not working together, as some of the hoteliers on DMAC are also part of the tourism industry subcommittee and we, ERTF steering committee, will help make industry decisions based on their recommendations in the near future,” she told Decafnation.

Businesses shouldn’t expect property tax forgiveness

Ketler believes the DMAC went into a temporary holding pattern when the province implemented its initial travel restrictions.

Anglin did not say who directed him to “repurpose” the DMAC or exactly what that means.

And he stopped responding to Decafnation when asked follow-up questions about how DMAC members were supporting the ERTF mandate and why the DMAC stopped meeting.

None of this makes sense to stakeholders on the DMAC. They say the DMAC was a functioning group and wonder why any economic recovery plan wouldn’t want it to continue marketing the Comox Valley as a destination for in-province travel?

Airport Development Manager Erin Neely is concerned about the money collected from Destination BC and other sources, including local accommodation businesses, prior to the pandemic.

“I don’t know where that stands, and there’s nobody to enquire with,” she told Decafnation. “But from a development perspective, I’d love to see the shoulder seasons marketed.”

Neely would normally work with Lara Greasly, who was CVEDS destination marketing officer before leaving for a job at the Town of Comox. As a backup, Neely would work with Tansy Pauls. But she has left, too, for a job at the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Without a functioning destination marketing office locally, Neely says she’s waiting for an update from the Economic Recovery Task Force.

“I think the buck stops at the regional district,” she said. “They oversee CVEDS.”

 

WHAT CAN THE ERTF DO?

CVRD Chair Jesse Ketler said the ERTF was formed in the spirit of putting directors diverse opinions on the future of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society aside and focusing on how to provide help for businesses and people.

“Eventually the handouts from provincial and federal governments will stop. Hopefully, before that time, we’ll know what is needed and we’ll have the direction from the industry-prepared reports of how to help people,” she said.

Wells said the ERTF has two roles. One is to advocate for Comox Valley businesses through letters to senior governments and via meetings with MPs and MLAs. The other is to follow up on the business case actions plans that are eventually coming.

“The ERTF doesn’t have any authority or power to enforce anything,” he said. “It will be up to the individual municipalities to do that, to change policy.”

But Wells did caution that there will be no forgiveness on property taxes because that comprises 90 percent of municipal revenue and by BC law local governments cannot run deficits.

He said the ERTF would be looking at the recommendations from each sector soon “to see if there were some quick wins” before the action plans rollout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO’S RUNNING 
THE TASK FORCE?

Co-Chairs:
Hegus (Chief) Councillor Nicole Rempel, K’omoks First Nation
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells

Members:
Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird
Comox (then) Acting Mayor Ken Grant
CVRD Chair Jesse Ketler
Electoral Services Commission Chair Edwin Grieve
Andrea Dawe of CFB Comox
CVEDS Chair Deana Simkin

 

 

CV HOTEL STAYS UP,
LONGER DESPITE CVEDS

Prior to the pandemic lockdown in mid-March, 2020 was shaping up to be the best year ever in the hospitality industry. 

After COVID wiped out April and May, tourists started coming back in June and in greater numbers during July. In August, local hotels had a record-setting month, reaching an occupancy rate of 90 percent, while the provincial average was about 30 percent to 50 percent occupancy. 

Vancouver Island generally is showing occupancy rates in the high 30 percentile.

Despite the pandemic, 2020 overall Comox Valley occupancy levels for the year to date are roughly 60 percent. And the average length of stay has increased over last year due to people choosing to stay in one location rather than travelling around.

The overall year to date occupancy rate at the same time last year was only slightly higher at 74 per cent.

 

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Survey shows Comox Valley’s economic development model the outlier on Vancouver Island

Survey shows Comox Valley’s economic development model the outlier on Vancouver Island

Other Vancouver Island communities separate economic development functions from destination marketing

Survey shows Comox Valley’s economic development model the outlier on Vancouver Island

By George Le Masurier

Among Vancouver Island communities, only the Comox Valley continues to use a 1980s model for delivering economic development and destination marketing; an organizational structure that other municipalities and regions have abandoned.

And that model may be at the root of local dissatisfaction with the Comox Valley Economic Development Society.

Businesses and organizations representing multiple sectors of the community have expressed a variety of concerns and skepticism about CVEDS. Those concerns appear to stem in part from the lack of accountability built into its structure, which a 2014 performance review suggested could incubate an operational philosophy that leads to low levels of trust and credibility.

This is not an uncommon problem for governments with arms-length organizations governed by boards that have no direct public accountability. It is one reason why, in recent years, Nanaimo and Campbell River have folded economic development commissions with models similar to CVEDS.

Voting in 2017 to disband Rivercorp, Campbell River’s equivalent to CVEDS, Councillor Charlie Cornfield said it was time “to turn the page.”

“As disappointed as I am to see the model that myself and council had supported and encouraged — it didn’t work the way we had intended,” Cornfield told a Campbell River newspaper at the time.

Other communities clearly agree. A Decafnation survey of Vancouver Island and nearby coastal regions found that only the Comox Valley still operates an arms-length economic development function.

Municipal staff handle economic development in Powell River, Campbell River, Parksville and Qualicum, Port Alberni, Nanaimo and Cumberland.

Even the Cowichan Valley Regional District handles economic development “in-house” for a large geographic area that includes several different jurisdictions, including Duncan, Chemanius, North Cowichan and Ladysmith.

The Comox Valley is also the only community to still combine economic development with visitor center management and destination marketing. Other municipalities have either contracted out tourism marketing or rely on community member-based organizations, such as Chambers of Commerce.

“Combining economic development and tourism? Nobody saw that as a good model,” Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog told Decafnation.

Symptomatic of CVEDS problems, the Village of Cumberland, Denman Island and Hornby Island have all withdrawn from the regional economic development function. And there is speculation that one or two electoral areas are considering the value of their continued participation in advance of next year’s first quarter contract negotiations.

CVEDS’ five-year contract with the Comox Valley Regional District expires on March 31, 2020.

“If people are dropping out of something that indicates poor leadership or a structure that isn’t going to succeed,” Krog said.

 

Case study: Nanaimo

Prior to 2011, the City of Nanaimo handled economic development in-house with designated municipal staff. Eight years ago, then mayor John Ruttan spearheaded formation of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, an arms-length entity similar to CVEDS that also had tourism marketing responsibilities.

But just five years later, new mayor Bill McKay and council pulled destination marketing responsibilities from the NEDC. That triggered a public rant by then EDC executive John Hankins for which he was fired from his $130,000 a year job.

McKay and Nanaimo Council then decided in December 2016 to take economic development back in-house and fold the corporation.

Now, the city has taken the first steps toward creating a new hybrid model for economic development that new Mayor Leonard Krog believes will enhance Nanaimo’s prosperity through the ups and downs of the economic cycle.

“There’s no question our city in-house staff needs some capacity,” Krog told Decafnation. “”Nanaimo is in a unique position as a port city, with a university and a regional hospital, and our location — there’s more population north of the Malahat than south of it — so economic development warrants more investment.”

In August, Nanaimo City Council endorsed the recommendations of a report by Neilson Strategies to create a hybrid model with many of the organizational details being determined by a broad-based community task force.

If it’s ultimately adopted, the new Nanaimo structure would expand the existing in-house economic development department, with this initial scope of services:

  • develop the city’s economic development strategy
  •  produce related economic reports
  • assist businesses in navigating city departments and provide information
  • manage the city’s contract with Tourism Vancouver Island for destination marketing, and any other related contracts with external agencies
  • provide input to city departments to facilitate economic activity

The new plan would also create a new arms-length Nanaimo Prosperity Agency, whose initial scope would include:

  • implementation of the economic development strategy
  • coordinate with organizations with a stake in economic development
  • develop a Nanaimo brand and attract new businesses

The city is also creating a temporary Economic Development Task Force drawn from community leaders that will investigate and review ownership, funding, governance and staffing options for the Nanaimo Prosperity Agency and recommend a final operating model to the City Council.

The task force will also play a role with in-house staff in developing the economic development strategy, including hiring the consulting firm to complete the strategy and endorsing the final draft for council adoption.

The city has already signed a contract with Tourism Vancouver Island for destination marketing services valued at about $650,000 in the first year.

 

Case study: Campbell River

Prior to 2017, the City of Campbell River funded an arms-length corporation governed by an independent board of directors, called Rivercorp, to provide economic development services. Similar to the Comox Valley Economic Development Society, Rivercorp handled destination marketing and managed a visitor’s centre in addition to its economic activities.

But by April of 2011, Rivercorp was being widely criticized for a lack of measurable results. Public dissatisfaction had started to manifest itself at city council meetings, according to a report in a Campbell River newspaper.

Former councillor Ziggy Stewart said simply that Rivercorp wasn’t doing its job.

“I’ve been involved with Rivercorp for the last five budgets now, and just strictly from a business decision, the return on investment hasn’t been there,” Stewart said.

Former councillor Mary Storry said the community had lost faith in the organization.

“At this point we’re looking for performance and we haven’t seen the performance,” Storry said.

Then, at an all-candidates meeting during the 2014 municipal elections, both the outgoing mayor Walter Jakeway and Mayor-elect Andy Adams said Rivercorp wasn’t delivering enough economic growth. That sounded the death warrant for Rivercrop.

According to a news report, Jakeway called Rivercrop a “disaster” and said the “entire thing needed to be gotten rid of.”

Rose Klukas

So it wasn’t a surprise when Rivercorp’s chief executive, Vic Goodman, resigned after the 2014 elections. And it shocked no one in April of 2015 when Mayor Andy Adams and City Council announced their intention to fold Rivercrop and take economic development in-house.

“A thorough re-evaluation, in collaboration with the Rivercrop board, has helped us conclude that the best way forward is to bring the economic development role into city operations,” Adams said. “We are confident that combining the economic development function with community development work done in other city departments will result in a more efficient and coordinated effort.”

Campbell River hired Economic Development Officer Rose Klukas in May of 2016 to report directly to City Manager Deborah Sargent. Klukas previously held the same position in Kitimat.

Adams told Decafnation this week that Klukas’ office is next to his and Sargent’s as a visible indication of the importance placed on economic development.

“Prospective investors have access to the mayor and city manager,” he said. “Those connections create synergies and opportunities.”

Campbell River also separated out responsibilities for destination marketing and visitor centre management.

Campbell River Council hired the consulting firm, Chemistry Consulting, to study how other communities dealt with tourism and destination marketing. They found that Tourism Vancouver Island handles these roles for many Island communities.

But the city chose an unlikely company, Destination Think. It’s a global company with offices in places like Amsterdam and the Australian Gold Coast and works for big municipal Canadian clients like Banff Lake Louise, Calgary, Montreal and Stratford.

Destination Think also works with smaller BC communities such as Vernon, Langley and Richmond.

“We took a chance on them and it’s the best decision we ever made,” Adams said. “We’re tapped into their worldwide reach.”

The arrangement with Destination Think included the creation of Destination Campbell River to implement a five-year tourism plan, which was developed over six months with community consultation.

The city hired Kirsten Soder to head that effort with an assistant and seasonal staff to operate the Campbell River visitor’s centre. Soder was previously the executive director of Tourism Tofino.

An independent long-time organization, the Campbell River Tourism Promotion Society, agreed this year to wind down its operations and join forces with Destination Campbell River. Now all online enquiries get directed to a single website maintained by the city.

Campbell River contributes $250,000 annually from city coffers and the Destination CR group receives close to another $500,000 from the city’s hotel tax, officially known as the Municipal Regional and District tax. Destination Think leverages that up with provincial grants.

Mayor Adams told Decafnation that the city has finally aligned all its economic and tourism efforts and they’re pulling in the same direction. And there’s a financial bonus, too.

“The realignment is costing us less or at least the same as before,” he said. “And with the MRDT money we’re able to do even more.”

 

Case study: Cowichan Valley Regional District

Skeptics of taking Comox Valley economic development in-house have often cited the difficulty of satisfying all the staff and elected officials from three separate municipalities, a regional district and three electoral areas.

But the Cowichan Valley has done it for years.

The Cowichan Valley has always managed its economic development activities through an in-house regional district function, according to Barry O’Riordan, manager of Economic Development Cowichan.

And since 2016, the economic development office no longer handles any tourism or destination marketing responsibilities.

“In 2016, the Cowichan Valley Regional District contracted Tourism Cowichan Society to deliver the regional tourism services. The regional tourism requisition mandated by a CVRD bylaw is $120,000 and this is used to leverage additional support from Destination BC,” O’Riordan told Decafnation this week. “Additionally, Tourism Cowichan Society receives MRDT funds that flow through the CVRD and industry contributions in the form of membership dues to form their overall budget.”

Prior to 2016, regional tourism services were delivered through the EDC office, but that was found to be an inefficient model.

Cowichan regional visitor centres are now managed by the Chambers of Commerce in Duncan, Chemainus, Ladysmith and Lake Cowichan.

 

Case Study: Cumberland

As Decafnation has previously reported, the Village of Cumberland announced it would withdraw from Comox Valley Regional District’s economic development function during the summer of 2015.

Participation became an issue during the 2014 municipal elections when all candidates seeking Village Council positions supported a withdrawal.

The Village had taken part in the 2014 performance review of CVEDS by Urbanics Consultants and candidates said the resulting report and recommendations reinforced the community’s perspective that the service was unsatisfactory and was not serving the best interests of Cumberland.

Other Comox Valley elected officials opposed Cumberland’s withdrawal, and the village has been penalized for withdrawing after the CVRD awarded CVEDS with a five-year contract in March of 2015. It has paid about $40,000 per year to the service for the past three years to complete its financial obligation.

In 2018, the village hired Kaelin Chambers as its first economic development coordinator to implement a Cumberland-specific strategy. One of his top priorities is to attract new businesses to the Bevan Industrial Lands, which comprise roughly 84 percent of all available commercial property in the Comox Valley.

Because it currently has a small commercial base, the Village’s finances rely primarily on property taxes from the community’s 3,500 residents.

Chambers has already had success. He reported this month that Tree Island Yogurt plans to purchase 15 acres along Bevan Road from Comox Timber Limited to construct a 28,000-square-foot production facility. It will be about four times larger than the companies current facility in Royston.

 

What’s next

The CVEDS board must present its proposed five-year strategic plan to CVRD directors by Oct. 31. And a review of CVEDS contract fulfillment by consultants Explore Solutions is due by Dec. 31.

Nine of the 10 CVRD directors — Cumberland won’t have a vote — will then use those two documents to deliberate the future of economic development and tourism marketing in the Comox Valley. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CVEDS CONTRACT RENEWAL PROCESS

The five-year agreement with CVEDS differs from other CVRD contracts for services. Because the regional district created the nonprofit society through Bylaw 345, the agreement for economic development services is not open to competitive bids. There is no Request for Proposal issued and the CVRD does not consider proposals from any other individuals or companies.

On June 1, the CVRD provided a letter to CVEDS that it would enter into negotiations for a potential five-year renewal of the contract after it receives the society’s new strategic plan on Oct. 31 and following an independent contract performance review due by Dec. 31.

However, the letter did not commit the CVRD to a new agreement, according to Scott Smith, the regional district’s general manager of planning and development services branch.

But Smith also confirmed that the CVRD has no Plan B. There is no parallel process underway to investigate alternate models of providing economic development services should negotiations with CVEDS not result in a renewed contract.

 

QUOTES FROM URBANIC CONSULTANTS 2014 REVIEW

“We feel that there will always be a certain level of scepticism surrounding the value of CVEDS activities unless it can produce the metrics that taxpayers want.”

“We feel that an organization such as CVEDS (or any economic development organization) does require a certain level of social license in order to effectively carry out its job  … the unique political landscape of Comox Valley warrants an effort to earn, build and maintain social license within the community.”

“The majority of the criticism we have obseved has centered on a lack of communication and transparency.”

 

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