Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pincher Creek Town Councillor Mark Barber criticizes rental of arena to out of town car/loan enterprise

Toni Lucas - Council for the Town of Pincher Creek met for the regular meeting on Monday June 13.  During the session Councillor Mark Barber said he was concerned about the appropriateness of a recent sales event.  A car dealership called Car Max Canada rented the Pincher Creek MCC Arena from May 23 - May 31 to sell vehicles and set up loans.

Barber expressed his frustration that the event was in competition with two locally owned car dealerships.  'Our dealerships must find it offensive to be competing with an out of town dealer, the Town's action must be considered especially offensive, as the economy is struggling and our local dealers are being forced to make tough decisions.'  Barber further stated the financing available on-site was at 'an exceedingly high interest rate'.

Councillor Doug Thornton asked if the dealership had purchased a business license to operate in Pincher Creek.  "We did our due diligence," explained CAO Laurie Wilgosh who explained the dealership did in fact purchase a local business licence and was a legitimate business and there was no reason to turn them down. "If we start with one, we will have to look at turning others down, too, that are in competition with other businesses."  When Barber asked if it would be okay to do that, Wilgosh said, "It might be, if that's the direction the Town wants to take."

Mayor Don Anderberg said administration has been given the task of finding more uses and revenue streams for town owned facilities, especially the arena.  Councillor Doug Thornton said fast food restaurants often build close to each other, offering a broader selection in one area.  He used the establishment of Walmart in town as an example.  "All of us thought that would be the end of every small business in town.  It turned out, that by having a large retailer like that from out of town it really helped our small businesses succeed, because they had competition, and that's good for everyone."  Thornton said he felt the car sale was good for the town, and reminded the Chamber of Commerce runs a trade show which showcases a variety of businesses, both locally and from out of town, and listed off a few other similar events.

Barber said "That's almost apples and oranges.  We are talking about bringing in vehicles, possibly the same vehicles available on a lot down the street.  Stuff at a trade fair probably isn't available anywhere else in town."  Councillor Lorne Jackson said he purchased a vehicle at the sales event in question, using his local bank for financing the transaction.

Mayor Anderberg said "As far as administration is concerned, they are following our direction to go out and get facilities higher use and more income so we can keep our taxes in line."  He estimated the arena covers approximately between 25-30% of its costs.  He said if council would like to examine the steps required to no longer offer town buildings for rent to organizations or companies who may hold sales events they could discuss how to go about that.

Wilgosh said if they wanted to restrict specific business types it would affect administration, bylaws, and business licensing. "I'm not sure how we could do that, pick some, and not others."

Anderberg reiterate the administration is following council direction, and if there is new direction to take, it must be discussed in detail.  "I want to make sure that everything is clear, if we want to change the direction, we can certainly do that, and we should have a discussion about that." The during the meeting the letter was accepted as information.

Pincher Creek has two prominent vehicle dealerships, Westcastle Motors and Castle Ford, owned by one entity but operated as separate enterprises.
Corrected for accuracy - Councillor Barber read from a paper outlining his own thoughts, not a letter from a constituent as previously stated in this article.

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