Dear Editor:

Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce for finally openly stating what many of us have held off saying for some time out of fear of being blacklisted in Invermere.

Mayor Gerry Tafts pursuit of a grander platform in provincial politics is hurting local businesses. The remarks that Mayor Taft made to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention are only the tip of the iceberg.

I came to Invermere in 2005 under the Council-imposed water crisis (see The Pioneer article of August 19th, 2005, Building freeze chills developers) that required hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Invermere business community to solve. Since that time Ive poured hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of personal dollars into social infrastructure and have watched as:

Invermere had solar trash compactors, so called green building rebates, a rainwater collection system by the lake and a lake management plan brought in before addressing Interior Healths drinking water treatment requirements, as noted by the November 9th Whats with the water? letter to the editor in The Pioneer.

Invermere poured more than $100,000 into the mayors CPR lodge project (over budget, behind schedule, and still not done) before addressing the water treatment requirements and before implementing a water protection plan that has been five years in the making (also at an expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Conservation groups were able to accumulate millions of dollars, including taxpayer funds, to secure additional grassland before Invermere and Regional District of East Kootenay were able to fund a much lesser amount for upgrades to a vital helicopter pad at the Invermere hospital.

Imagine Invermere and council now have the mandate to put local food producers in touch with local retailers, and this initiative is moving forward, again before completing the much-needed infrastructure improvements in Invermere.

The downtown core is a ghost town full of For Lease signs and a stagnant commercial sector. Who wants to do business in an environment that openly says we dont do things for tourists?; not recognizing that shadow population is part of the tourism sector and that tourism is an economic driver in Invermere.

Non-profit groups that create amenities for residents and tourists, and represent seniors and youth, get a fraction of the support Invermeres green initiatives receive.

Mayor Tafts interest in provincial politics is pretty clear. One need only follow the B.C. First initiative to see where he is going: playing on the emotions of the public and pushing a couple of non-feasible concepts like replacing Site C with a gazillion non-environmentally intrusive wind turbines.

Finally, it seems Mayor Taft has become a clone of MLA Norm Macdonald, a mini-me or mini-Mac in this case. There is lots of grandiose political spin, but a distinct inability to focus on and achieve the fundamental requirements to create a vibrant Invermere where anyone would want to live or visit.

Nick Berzins, Invermere