As you know, Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community is a registered society with a mandate to work together with citizens and groups to educate, inform, and support them in helping our elected representatives make the best decisions possible on issues of public interest in Gibsons.
GABC has been a member of the Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce for several years. Since 2013, we have encouraged our business and non-profit members to become members of the Chamber of Commerce and to support and attend Chamber workshops, seminars, business after-hours events, etc.
However, the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce has decided to take "positions" on issues in our community, including the contentious George hotel project. The GDCC are now promoting this non-compliant re-zoning and Official Community Plan amendment.
This decision concerns us for a few reasons.
The Chamber has based its position of support for the George hotel and condos project on a poll of the GDCC membership taken in November 2013. We considered the poll to be contrived then and we filed a letter of complaint to the Chamber at the time.
Their letter of support for the George states:
“… we have been fortunate that a local business person has brought forward a project that meets almost all of the 23 objectives listed in the OCP for Harbour Area Development. We understand that the size of the project is larger than many had anticipated, but the GDCC agrees that the benefits of meeting almost all the other objectives of the OCP are worth making an exception for this project.”
First, this statement is inaccurate.
The George does not meet “almost all of the 23 objectives listed in the OCP for Harbour Area Development.” In fact, on May 1st, 2013, in a letter sent to the developer (and subsequently suppressed by the mayor and planner), the planner outlined the many ways the project does not comply with the OCP. Specifically he wrote, “The development, however, is inconsistent with key OCP policies and guidelines, and creates a number of impacts on public spaces.”
Second, the statement is outdated.
Since this questionable poll was taken and the letter written, we have learned that the developer’s economic projections are likely greatly exaggerated, the view images were false, the environmental assessment omitted tributyltin, the proposal never did comply with the OCP, the developer might just build condos and, of course, the George poses a serious risk to Gibsons Aquifer!
Third, this position in no way represents an informed, engaged membership.
The Chamber describes their three key roles as being to advocate, facilitate and communicate on behalf of their members. Yet rather than advocating on behalf of ALL of their members as per their bylaws, the Chamber is advocating on behalf of a select group and a developer, without having facilitated a dialogue with their membership. They appear not to have communicated in any way to their members about the faulty information submitted by the developer or about the serious issues related to this project including the risk of potential blow-out of Gibsons aquifer, the spread of toxic contaminants in the harbour, and potential impacts on citizens and taxpayers.
We believe that taking the position of advocating for a developer’s rezoning application based on outdated and inaccurate information without communicating the risks to the membership is contrary to the Chamber’s mandate and a misuse of their influence and role in our community and an ethical lapse on their part.
We want the GDCC to inform, engage, and advocate on behalf of all of their members and we have detailed our concerns and our request in another letter to the Gibsons and District Chamber ofCommerce.
We hope you too will consider writing a letter to the Gibsons Chamber to let them know what you think about their position and about this contentious project.