The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to Mayor Brian Bigger, urging him to defer a motion that will be brought forward at Tuesday's council meeting.
Bigger announced during a June 11 meeting of council that he would be bringing forth a motion to reform the governance model of the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, giving council full accountability of all economic development in the city.
The chamber is asking that Bigger defer the motion until "extensive consultations and public debate has taken place on the proposal".
The full text of Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce president Debbi Nicholson's letter is as follows:
Dear Mayor Bigger and City Council,
I am writing to you today regarding your proposal for City Council to assume complete oversight of the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC). I urge you to defer your proposed motion until such time that extensive consultations and public debate has taken place on the proposal.
Council is scheduled to discuss the motion on June 25, and if the motion is successful, would assume complete oversight of the GSDC on July 1. Such a short turnaround time does not allow for the public debate that we feel is necessary for such a drastic overhaul of the GSDC. The business community has concerns about this proposal, but there has been little public discussion about the motions, and a single Council meeting is likely not enough time for a full debate. It is important that Council take a vote on this motion only after community stakeholders have an opportunity to learn more about the proposal, learn what it would mean for the city’s future economic development, and provide input.
We have initial concerns about the proposal. Economic development decisions should, where possible, be made according to sound evidence and not be politically motivated. There can be unnecessary roadblocks when economic development is under the direct purview of politicians, some of whom may not have expertise in economic development or time to allocate when combined with the other responsibilities of their office. The public comments on the topic thus far suggest a political rationale for this proposal rather than one based in increasing the efficiency or effectiveness of the GSDC.
Additionally, Council already employs a degree of oversight on the GSDC, so it is unclear what benefit there is to be gained from removing that layer of private sector expertise. These concerns may or may not be assuaged after further discussions, but the chamber cannot support such a proposal with the limited information we currently have.
A deferrment would allow us to discuss the proposal in further detail and understand its merits; only then can the chamber and other stakeholders provide meaningful input. For these reasons we suggest that Council should not move to vote on the motion without appropriate public input and deliberations.