The lead article in the Standard of August 16, ‘Co-op lot back on market’, did an excellent job of revealing the difficulty and dangers of small town economic planning: we over-rely on outside money coming in to create our economy for us. Whether it’s a mill, plant or new hotel, big investments hold the promise of an improved tax base and jobs.
But while large enterprises can bring both wealth and stability and a diverse economy to towns and cities, they are not the universal blessing they are billed to be. Companies come because it is in their interests, because they can make more money here and they come expecting us to meet their needs by making concessions to them so they can make more money. It should be the other way around.
Companies should come expecting to meet our needs and make a reasonable amount of money in the opportunities that creates. We now have a development plan and a clearer idea of how we should use the opportunity of the former Co-op lands; a museum, green space and meeting space – in other words, public space.
Sherwood Mountain Brew Pub has shown the vibrancy of a community-owned business meeting community needs. We made Shames Mountain a co-op. We recently celebrated our first Salmon Festival. We are salmon people, river people, mountain people and we like it this way. When people believe in themselves, they create their own energy and it is that energy that attracts businesses to come, to be part of who we are.
City council would be well advised to believe in creativity of their citizens, to go after public money for public places and to build with the new generation of people who are making Terrace an exciting place to live.