City heading into uncharted waters

Potential ramifications surround council's decision to strip services from chamber

Looking back at decisions they have made over the last three years, it would be hard to cast the current Penticton council as afraid of change.

Whether or not those decisions have been made with serious consideration of all their implications is another question. Case in point, last week council voted to give the contract for handling tourism, visitor information and economic development services to the brand new Business Development Group, bypassing the Penticton Chamber of Commerce, who have been handling it up until now.

There are good reasons that chambers, which represent a community’s business sector, often handle those three related services. Their livelihood, after all, is intimately tied up with them.

It’s just a one-year contract and if it doesn’t work out, at least according to Mayor Dan Ashton, council can try something else. Who knows, council might even offer the contract to the chamber again. That is, if the chamber wants it. Come Dec. 31, when the new group takes over, the chamber will have to vacate its current offices in the Visitor Information Centre on Railway.

And the new group is going to be starting out with some bare walls, with the computers and office equipment needed to run the operation being the property of the chamber. A potential hidden cost to this change over.

Perhaps more important than not having computers and such is the lists of contacts and other information necessary to running the operations … those would belong to the chamber as well. We wonder if council really considered the long-term implications of their short-term decision.

There is a certain inertia involved in promoting a community. You can’t wave a wand a make things go back to the way it was if things don’t work out. Computers and information are just a part of the picture that will have to be restarted every time council makes this kind of change.