Towny Anderson: Guiding growth
October 28, 2005
Bob Milne suggests I would be “unreceptive to a part of our community that provides jobs and the tax base for the services we all expect.” That’s wrong and sidesteps the real issue in this election, which is shaping up as a referendum on how we will move forward — as a community with a resort, or a resort community. If the old-school business oligarchy continues to rule, we may have a resort, but we will lose our community. Conversely, if we regain balance by investing in our community, the resort will prosper because it is marketing a sense of place — a family-friendly, Western community.
This is not an issue of pro-growth, anti-growth, pro-business, anti-business. It’s an issue of how we are going to grow. Should we foster businesses that are well-aligned with our community character, values and resources?
Many times in my 30 years in community development, I have heard the traditional business community say, “Your proposed changes will cost jobs and ruin the economy.” Never has the sky fallen, and in every case, as a direct result of the change, the community grew more prosperous. We, too, can do better.
How well have we fared? Is our community more livable with the decisions that City Council has made? Is the trickledown effect from pumping money into our resort sector preserving our small-town character? Is it keeping housing accessible to those who staff the resort and tourist-based businesses? Is it investing well in our children? Is it funding the basic needs of the community? If the answer is no; it is time for a change of leadership.
The 2005 Community Survey, which the traditional business community is conspicuously ignoring, strongly suggests that our community prefers to change to the community-based approach to economic development. This approach invests public funds in our community and the people who make it work. It creates an environment conducive to business development and sustainable prosperity. This approach strikes a balance among community needs, our economy and our environment.
When diversity of species in a river or forest disappears, the remaining species will die. Much like diversity in nature, those communities that have a diverse economy do better over time than those communities dependent on a single revenue source. Logging and mining communities were dinosaurs of the 20th century. A tourism-only economy is the dinosaur of the 21st century.
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I believe we have an opportunity to define our future and chose a better course than where we are headed. I want to be a member of a City Council that will take action to make us economically strong by investing well in our community, developing a diversified economy, and maintaining services that local residents want and need. It is time to stand up for our city and put our residents’ interests, our community’s interests, first.