Friday, January 30, 2015


Where's the New Business?

Walas Concepts sent packing

Submitted by Dick Harrington, Chilliwack


Richard Harrington, Chilliwack


t seems that the people of Chilliwack ( or at least the 17% who voted) love to elect city councilors who prefer to waste tax dollars. A case in point is the existence of Cepco- or Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation. As you know, Cepco was formed years ago with the intention of creating an entity that has a mandate to research and bring new business enterprises to the city.


It has been given millions in tax dollars over the years, has a staff payroll of just under $500,000 per year and owns property of seven million dollars.

When I first ran for council over three years ago, I questioned the need for this entity, having been a member of the "Economic Development" Corporation in Niagara Falls, Ontario. In that city, the EDC raised tens of millions of dollars for local entrepreneurial development - all at no cost to the taxpayer.


In 2011, I said openly that if it can be done elsewhere, why can't it be done in Chilliwack? I was totally ignored. The media ignored me and I felt that I was a voice in the wilderness. I was even approached after the first all-candidates' meeting by a well-known BC Liberal operative who bluntly told me that " if you criticize Cepco, we will make sure that you never get elected in Chilliwack".

In this last council race, I again brought up this topic and I was again ignored by the media. It does seem that the employees and supporters of Cepco do indeed determine who gets elected to council and who do not. The people of this city ( at least those 17%) lose out when they do not allow a volunteer group to focus attention on downtown renewal and instead prefer to waste money after money on an entity that is not needed. Meanwhile, all I hear from some members of council and from other community members is the comment" I don't give a hoot what happens in Niagara Falls". Some people are so narrow-minded and refuse to learn anything from other areas.

The latest decision to cancel the contract with Walas, the Dutch firm hired to look at downtown issues just ads flames to the fire. Only after wasting another $65,000 of taxpayer monies, has Cepco decided that it was an unnecessary expense. I could have told you that six months ago- but, I am not listened to by the "old boys' network" that controls this city.

Meanwhile, that 83% of the people who do not vote will continue to suffer through their unnecessary waste of tax dollars. They can be content that they are being controlled by those "eliteist" few who also push for greater power and influence for Cepco. I guess that some people never learn.