Economy near and dear to councillor

Castlegar city councillor speaks on local retail climate

Councillor Dan Rye

What’s good for business is good for the community overall. That’s the accepted and widely shared opinion of Castlegar City Councillor Dan Rye on the local retail landscape.

When questioned last week about current issues of concern, Rye mentioned the economy, room for retail growth,  and a pair of local businesses which stood out for opposite reasons.

“We need to build a stronger business community,” he began. “We’ve got some big holes to fill… the mall at No Frills, for example, it would be nice to see some retail businesses get set up there.”

Rye subscribes to the common notion that business is the essential fuel of a healthy economy.

“All that will keep more people in town,” the councillor stressed, “which means more jobs generated in town, more money staying in town instead of heading out.”

Reminded that tasks such as economic stimulus are easier said than done, Rye spoke of what the City is doing to help nurture a larger, more vital retail sector.

“We do have the concession where, if you re-invest in your business you’d get a tax break… I think that’s going to continue this year. There are a couple of businesses that have taken advantage of that. The Chameleon (Marlane Hotel) is one of them.”

The City of Castlegar has taken affirmative action as far as setting the table for business, according to Coun. Rye.

“We ran water and sewer across the bridge to that land out by the airport… and we’re constantly looking at different ideas for out there. We need that developer to come along, who’s going to develop that property. The City’s not into developing commercial sites but we certainly would encourage anyone who comes into town and would work very hard with them.”

Rye indicated the City has taken opportunities to travel and promote itself, as in last year’s attendance at a form of trade show in Whistler, and will look at making similar efforts in the future.

The councillor noted that often a positive step in terms of business is matched by a negative one, he used an soon-to-open restaurant and a closing fabric store as examples.

Warren’s Wok restaurant is filling the void left by the former Mazatlan restaurant on Columbia Avenue, while the  departure from the downtown core is Jean’s Material Things in the 300 block of Columbia Ave.

The fabric store move, according to Jean Schwan, (pictured below) however, is for health reasons and not due to any sort of retail-related woes.

Schwan said it was time to let it go.

“I don’t want to retire. I love what I’ve been doing very much,” she related. “It’s a shame but it’s still going to happen. But I’ll still have my online store.”

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