Oil Springs Mayor Ian Veen says a new committee “missed the bus on economic development” so council pulled the plug on it.
Council set up the group in April after residents came to council asking what happened to a 2011 Economic Development Plan and asked if they could help review it.
The village set up a committee of council which included three of the citizens and two municipal councillors.
The group has met twice, but at the July 19th meeting, the citizen members were told the council voted to disband the committee.
Veen says the committee “wasn’t going anywhere” and was looking for grants to “put some sort of monument in an oil field.
“I think they’ve missed the bus on economic development. Economic development brings business into town,” Veen told The Independent. “(The Oil Museum) does attract people to Oil Springs, but once you get them here, what do you do with them? There is no restaurant, no bed and breakfast, no antique shops… You need to have facilities in town to keep them here.
“It’s not doing anything for our tax base; it’s not doing anything to attract business to our community,” he added. “We were hoping they were going to get motivated and attract business into town.
“We’re all about bettering the town. I don’t think oil heritage is going to do it…you can’t use that alone to bring economic development to the village.”
Veen adds the municipality hasn’t given up on attracting new business but it feels the people on the current committee would be better working as a community group, similar to the Alvinston Community Group. It chooses projects within the village to improve, in the long-term aim of growing the community.
That wasn’t what the citizen members were expecting. “We’re not interested in fundraising; that’s not what our mandate was… there are other groups that do that,” says member Gord Perry.
“The committee’s purpose was to review the economic development plan which the municipality spent tens of thousands of dollars on and never did anything with,” says Perry. “We thought they’d give it a year and see what happens. We had plans to talk to the business; that’s what we were doing and all of the sudden, we’re gone.
“I’m shocked and upset,” he says. “It was totally unprofessional and uncalled for…No one was more shocked than me we didn’t have a clue.”