The City of Penticton announced that did not renew the service contract for economic development officer Colleen Pennington. Western News file photo

City changes economic development direction

City of Penticton said they are not renewing the service contract of the economic development officer

After more than four years in the position, the City of Penticton has decided not to renew Colleen Pennington’s contract as economic development officer.

“The City of Penticton is currently reviewing the direction of its economic development office,” reads a statement from the city. “The city would like to acknowledge the tremendous contribution Colleen has made during her tenure and wish her well in her new endeavours.”

Pennington started with the city in July 2012, after the city terminated its contract with the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce to handle economic development and brought the position in house. Her last contract expired in March 2016 and she has been working on a month-to-month basis since.

Peter Weeber, chief administrative officer, gave few details on what the review of economic development would involve. During the 2017 budget process last month, council cut $50,000 from the economic development funding request.

”It’s a review. We are working through it, we are looking forward to it,” said Weeber, adding they want to have all stakeholders, current economic development people, council and the development community involved in the review.

“Our biggest success is the casino, probably $100 million to the community, over the next 40 years,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, adding that other initiatives where EcDev has invested years of work might fall through making it hard to measure results.

“We never get to talk about that. Sometimes it is hard to evaluate the success of economic development,” said Jakubeit.

Weeber continued to stress that Pennington had done great work for the city, only saying the department was under review when pressed.

“Our conversation is over,” he said to media questioning him at one point, and turned to walk away, then returned.

“We want to look at what the possibilities in the future. She is not part of that right now,” said Weeber. “I decided she wouldn’t be part of that. I made that decision for my own reason.”

Weeber said in the meantime, the work of the economic development office will continue.

“We have contracts, they have beginnings, they have ends,” said Weeber. “We have three economic development staff that will continue to do the work they are doing.”

Weeber said the review will also determine whether the city decides to replace Pennington.

“We may have the capacity within the system as it exist to just continue on with the work that has been started.,”

Pennington previously worked at the Transportation Investment Corporation and spent 16 years at Telus as a portfolio assessment director for the venture capital division and as a director of business development. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and Bachelor of Arts degree, both from the University of Saskatchewan.

The city’s statement includes a request to direct economic development related inquires to Stephanie Chambers.

Related: New economic development officer takes in Penticton