McLennan pulls plug on economic development group

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

McLennan town council will not be a member of Smoky River Regional Economic Development in 2023.
Council agreed at its June 13 meeting to leave the group, which promotes economic initiatives in the Smoky River region.
Council has questioned the value of being a member for quite some time. It came to a head at the meeting when Mayor Jason Doris asked council if they wanted to stay. The decision had to be made that night because six month’s notice is required to pull out in time to leave Jan. 1, 2023.
“I’d like to explore this,” said Councillor Margaret Jacob.
“We have to make a decision tonight.”
One proposal was to forward some or all of the annual fee of $14,400 to the newly-formed Smoky River Chamber of Commerce and have them become more involved in economic development.
“All things aside, I know we haven’t been happy,” said Councillor Sue Delauriers.
“Is it worth $14,000?” asked Jacob.
“What is our plan to spend that $14,000?” asked Delaurier.
“There is no plan,” she admitted.
But Jacob had an answer.
“Doing our own economic development.”
“I’d like to wait a year,” said Delaurier.
Doris added finances were getting “tighter and tighter” each year for council, and noted council was “not overly satisfied for a number of years.”
Although council was not specific on what they wanted or expected, they felt they were not getting value.
“Can we afford not to be in it?” asked Doris, noting some good work was being done on the hemp project.
Delaurier persisted.
“If we had a plan on what we would use the money for. . .”
She then asked council a question.
“In the last four years, other than hemp, what has [Smoky River Regional Economic Development] done for us?”
The newly-opened day care in Falher was the only reply.
Jacob persisted council could do better on its own.
“That $14,000 can go a long way into a lot of areas,” she said.
A motion to stay in the group one more year was defeated.

Falher discusses McLennan’s move

Falher town council discussed McLennan’s decision at its July 13 meeting. It was immediately questioned by Mayor Donna Buchinski, who asked if McLennan left following proper procedure.
“They can,” replied CAO James Bell.
“It would probably increase our portion,” noted Buchinski.
If the budget remained the same, existing partners would have to make up the $14,000 shortfall in 2023.
“And how would the board work?” she asked, seeing one less member results from McLennan’s pullout.
A regional meeting amongst Smoky River municipalities in September may discuss the issue.
Buchinski was disappointed.
“Economic development is important. If you don’t have one [economic development advocate], you’re not interested in growing and you don’t want to grow.”

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