Dear Editor:

This letter might be considered an open letter to the Invemere and Radium councils and the two Chambers of Commerce about cooperating to jointly fund an Economic Development Officer (EDO) for our area.

Why might we need such a position? Because the one major industry of our valley is both seasonal and a broken arrow right now. That broken arrow is tourism. Generally, stays in Radium and Invermere are down approximately 30 per cent from recent years. Both towns have empty storefronts. Both have people leaving the valley due to lack of work. The housing prices have come down to affordable levels now but no one can afford them because they dont have jobs.

Why cant Radium and Invermere get together and fund an EDO for the two areas? They could fund the officer through a directed increase in taxation or provincial government funding, and do it on a per capita basis of population. Give the person a two-year renewable contract with timelines to deliver draft plans, and give the EDO instructions to stay away from tourism. Tourism has numerous industry resources both in the valley and in the province. It has been our bread and butter for decades, and we cant do without it. We need jobs in addition to and outside the tourism industry.

Then, the councils would have to take the advice of the EDO. They would have to implement those recommendations.

The time has come for us to expand our horizons. We need to get industry in one form or another into this area that generates jobs. After having visited vibrant cities and towns throughout western Canada, one of the most common attributes to those bustling towns and cities is an Economic Development Officer.

Advertise that we are open to new business. Advertise on each village website. Give tax breaks for new business coming to town. For instance, a two-year moratorium to new businesses that bring in jobs.

If we dont act soon, our villages are going to have more empty storefronts, more electricians and plumbers will be leaving the valley and our kids and grand kids are going to the Big Apple. I have spoken to at least three different trades people recently who are looking at distant jobs. I have spoken with two realtors who are looking at distant jobs.

Please start working together to fund an Economic Development Officer for our towns before they turn into ghost towns. Do it soon.

David Pacey

Radium Hot Springs