Westbank Chamber on sidelines of growth

To the editor:

To the editor:

As a Westbank Chamber of Commerce member I am surprised and disappointed that the Westbank Chamber has not taken a supportive position on the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery development project; in fact I have not seen anything pro or con from the chamber.

Is it not the mandate of chambers to support business growth and the well being of business members in their community? Here we have a project that will strengthen the tax base greatly and create many service industry jobs for local businesses. The economic spin off from a project of this magnitude would be huge and benefit so many local businesses from new supply businesses, hotels and restaurants that will experience increased tourism as West Kelowna becomes a world class tourist destination.

We have the WFN developing their lands into commercial properties for large box stores and small retail business but we can’t compete with the land requirements for that type of development; so we need to find a non-competitive means to grow West Kelowna into its full, sustainable potential with enhancement of business enterprises like the Mission Hill project would.

It is the task of a local chamber to locate, evaluate and support such projects, working with the local West Kelowna Economic Development Department to create a balanced growth pattern.

The statistics indicate that the Mission Hill project will be worth $110 million, generate $1.672 million in taxes, employ 420 staff, have an annual salary outlay of $19.3 million and various contracts within West Kelowna worth $2 million. This project generates a sustainable tax base and deserves the attention and interest of the Westbank Chamber.

I note with interest the article in the Capital News that states that the West Kelowna council has voted in a proposed four per cent plus increase in taxes which will strengthen their tax base so they have the reserves to move into 2013, with reserve money in the bank to look after the unknown increases in community operating costs when present support programs end.

The chamber should be advocates for the council to strengthen the commercial tax base by adding additional projects that would allow council, to grow and strengthen the present commercial tax base so they could, in the future, consider reducing business tax to attract new businesses to West Kelowna.

May I remind the Westbank Chamber, projects like this are like manna from heaven—a chance in a million that most communities and chambers would welcome with open arms in their support and promotion.

Where is our chamber? The Westbank Chamber needs to be reminded by its members that a chamber’s mandate is to focus on local business and their development and move away from being a social club.

There is serious business to be considered and accomplished now and in the future.

Tom Howe,

West Kelowna

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