Open letter to mayor and council of Watson Lake:
Thank you for your response to my open letter of February 23.
In 2006, council agreed to a policy objective stating in part: “Good sound land planning to allow for population growth and business opportunities is essential to maximizing our potential over the next few years.”
Having spent many years working with councillor Patti McLeod dispensing government lands outside the municipality, you must agree that, along with councillor Sharon Miller, your consistent delays and refusal to accept this proposal without explanation has resulted in three lost years of small business opportunity in our community.
Obviously, your consistent delays and refusal to support this initiative has aroused suspicions that you and your two colleagues could be attempting to provide protection from competition for one or more local business enterprises!
Your early acceptance of this proposal might dispel this perception. In fact, the proposed site is already prominently displayed as the background of your logo in the Town internet presentation!
By promoting free and competitive enterprise, every man, woman and child could benefit in lower daily living costs alone, so why cause yet another delay in allowing our community to expand and encourage new opportunities for small business? Only selected individuals or companies promoting selfish interests, fearing competition might result in declining profits, could possibly benefit from your continuing negative responses.
Webster’s defines a ‘clique’ as: “a narrow, exclusive group of persons held together by a presumed identity of interests.” This best describes a couple of problems we are facing today in Watson Lake.
For another example, it has been suggested that perceived domination by a few influential individuals has placed the credibility of the Watson Lake Chamber of Commerce in question. Hopefully, its membership will soon resolve this unfortunate perception.
You have stated that council has not been pressured. Indeed, I respect that each member of council has sworn an oath to reject any influences from private interests, but the appointment of councillor McLeod by the chamber executive as its contact person to council remains a matter of obvious concern.
If and when council does give its approval, the next step would require it to direct a formal request to the minister of community services asking for immediate funding, hopefully within the February-March time frame of the BCF.
This would permit the establishment of a project charter, along with cost estimates for engineering, initial design and survey of an appropriate subdivision at the designated location. Council should also request that sufficient additional funding be provided for in the Yukon’s five-year budget.
If you no longer wish to recognize that Watson Lake will surely be impacted by future demands for a variety of services, then please say so. However, it would certainly not be in our interest to find resource-based industries relying on alternate local commercial developments at places like Upper Liard, or Lower Post, BC, for services. That said, I am sure the premier of British Columbia would be first in line to take advantage of such an opportunity.
On the other hand, if council decides to support the long-term goals outlined in the Watson Lake Sustainability Plan, I would respectfully encourage you to take swift advantage of new infrastructure funding and spring budget opportunities from senior levels of government, while there is still time to do so.
Otherwise we will have wasted yet another year in providing our community with a long-awaited and much needed central business district.
On behalf of area residents, I once again ask that you give this extremely important matter your earliest possible reconsideration.
Donald E. Taylor