Thursday, October 20, 2011

FORTIN’S ECONOMIC PLAN IS ‘ALL SHOW, NO GO’ SAYS BROWN

City’s major employers snubbed--plan depends on success of business in other municipalities

October 20, 2011

VICTORIA – The mayor’s new economic development plan for the City, to be announced today at City Hall at 1pm, is mostly a lot of platitudes and ‘same old, same old,’ says mayoral candidate Paul Brown. And without the money needed to fund the implementation, is destined for the same shelf as two earlier so-called economic development plans for Victoria.

“If the Mayor was serious about a new direction for economic development in the City, he would have launched it at budget time in 2012, so he could demonstrate a financial commitment to the plan,” says Brown. “As it is, the implementation of this plan remains unfunded, and probably for good reason.”

“How can you launch an economic development strategy when the City isn’t even sure it can continue to fund and provide the most basic of City services such as buildings, sewers and roads?” asks Brown. “This is like every other planning document we’ve seen under this Mayor -- destined for the bookshelf. Where are we going to find the $625,000 budget for the economic development office it calls for, and the $1.5 million needed for the whole effort, considering where the City’s finances presently stand?”

“Furthermore, as I read the plan, there is too much focus on industry sectors that, for the most part, operate outside the City’s boundaries,” says Brown. “For example, the plan calls for extended development of the post-secondary education sector and the high-tech sector, neither of which have a significant footprint in the City of Victoria at the moment.”

The plan also appears to downplay two of the city’s current major employers: the provincial government and the tourism industry. The provincial government is described as a declining industry sector, despite the fact that it is still the city’s biggest commercial property tenant, while tourism is dismissed as a mature industry with little expansion potential.

“Why does the plan put so much emphasis on sectors in which we don’t have a competitive advantage, and ignores or downplays those where we clearly do?” asks Brown.

“Let’s be honest, our neighbours are competing with the City for new business and industry. And they already have some advantages over us, particularly land availability and lower taxes. Why would we want to hand them even more ammunition?”

“The Mayor asked a carefully selected group of people to come up with this. Where was the wider public opinion sought and considered?”
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