Mayor asks CBT for help on major 'drawback to business retention'
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
Mayor John Dooley has asked the Columbia Basin Trust to change the weather.
Well, at least the weather in Castlegar, a constant thorn in the side of those who look to fly in and out of the West Kootenay during the wetter winter months of the year.
The mayor — also the city’s director on the board of the Regional District of Central Kootenay — had asked Neil Muth, president and chief executive officer of the CBT, to look into some way of improving access to the region’s airport.
The economic generator of the airport really needs help in the area, said Dooley.
“If there is some way you could find a way so the Basin could get involved in the Castlegar Airport and make that more reliable, could you do so?” he asked at an RDCK board meeting last week.
“It is identified on an ongoing basis as the number one drawback to business retention and development in our region.”
He encouraged the CBT to work with Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff on some solutions.
However, Mayor Dooley lauded the CBT for the work it has done in the last year for the City of Nelson. Local CBT highlights for 2010 included opening the 90 supported living suites in Lakeview Village for seniors, having $300,000 earmarked for the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce regional visitor gateway (the CP Rail Station) and forking over $50,000 for the Nelson Municipal Library Foundation expansion.
Mayor Dooley commended the CBT for its support of the local projects,
“Your initiatives around the senior’s housing has, in my opinion, been fantastic,” he said. “That’s been a real benefit for our municipality.”
Area E director Ramona Faust also asked Muth for a favour, in the realm of agriculture, something the West Kootenay region was short on. She stated there is currently a hurdle faced by farmers in the area who want to “age out” and those who want to come in and farm, all restricted by the high cost of agricultural land.
“Is the trust looking at that either some type of delivery of benefit or some investment to help with that and help foster agriculture?” she asked.
Muth admitted the CBT was not looking at the issue as something to be dealt with at the moment.
He said it was one of those issues that needed to be understood better before it could be brought forward, just like the idea of alternative energy or broadband infrastructure.
“We have had some discussion about land inventory in general as an issue that we should be looking at and understanding better and then moving forward,” he said.
“But that does not preclude individual communities and organizations to bring a project forward … to the community development program.”