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Win, Win, Win

Win, Win, Win

(Open letter to Sechelt Mayor & Councillors)
Our board is pleased to offer the following additional comments regarding our “Win, Win, Win” recommendations as outlined in our letter of January to redevelop portions of Block 7 in downtown Sechelt:
1. The driving force behind our recommendation is the desperate shortage of workforce housing. This is the #1 issue facing our members and most employers on the Coast. The hospital, retailers, contractors and more – all have serious problems locating housing for their employees. Without employees, the services we rely on for our quality of life will suffer. We strongly encourage you to make this your top priority in 2021.
2. The Chamber is fully supportive of improving the working conditions for the District parks and public works staff. And we believe this can be achieved as part of a bigger vision that benefits everyone – including taxpayers.
3. Our suggestion to relocate the municipal hall is based on the maxim of using land for its highest and best use. We assert that workforce housing for perhaps 200 people located close to community amenities is a particularly good choice compared with the current use as a five day per week office for about 35 District employees. Please advise what work the District has done to assess this matter?
4. The current opportunity to create a “Win” for many stakeholders is not one to be ignored. New workforce housing, a dramatically improved municipal hall facility, a modern library, increased tax revenues for the District and a reduction of District debt are all “wins” that come from what we are proposing.
5. During the council meeting on Feb. 3, there was a two-minute discussion about our recommendation. Some comments related to whether the District should sell land, ever. We agree that such a decision is complex and warrants careful consideration. For example, there may be partnership structures that would enable the District to retain an ownership interest while creating the much-needed workforce housing and delivering the many other wins for the community.
6. We appreciate the comments from some Councillors that they value creative and innovative ideas. We offer these in the spirit of starting a constructive conversation to develop even better solutions.
7. We note that transit is, in fact, coming to East Porpoise Bay. BC Transit and the District have been discussing this for some time – it seems reasonable to assume that such will happen sooner if plans to relocate the municipal hall are announced. Further, this area of Sechelt is intended to be developed as a new business centre, with the potential for commercial and tourist activities nearby. Would it not show leadership by developing a new facility that is close to the ocean, accessible to new amenities and enhances the liveability of our community?
8. Finally, the example of the SCRD relocating from the village of Sechelt to the top of Field Road some years ago shows that being “downtown” (wherever that is in the District of Sechelt!) is unnecessary. Keeping the current offices (which, we understand, are already undersized) in the village means any additional facilities will need to go elsewhere. Building everything in one area now is efficient, and in a location like Lot L provides the opportunity for expansion.
In closing, we very much appreciate the hard work that each of you do for the benefit of our community.
We continue to believe that there are better options than building a standalone Operations Centre on Lot L. Undoubtedly, there are solutions even better than our proposal, and we stand ready to work with you to deliver an even bigger “win” for our community.
Ed Pednaud,
Executive Director,
Sechelt & District
Chamber of Commerce

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