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Gateway project in turmoil

The Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce has some serious damage control ahead after a week of turmoil.

The Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce has some serious damage control ahead after a week of turmoil.

It started innocently enough with the call of a meeting on Sunday but has since seen three directors leave the board and more uncertainty over the viability of a major project. At the centre of it all is - you guessed it - the Gateway project, a proposed tourist info centre at the top of the ferry bypass.

We thought cooler heads had prevailed in December after the board decided a thorough review of the financial viability of the project was in order. This came after the chamber sought assistance from the Town of Gibsons and, more importantly, administrator Bill Beamish, who acted as an independent consultant with the project proponents to sort out a plan of action.

In a December meeting, Beamish confirmed everything the chamber board already knew. Gateway could be a viable project, but a proper financing plan should be in place before they could proceed. It seemed a reasonable approach. After all, Gateway is a project of the Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce. It is a legal entity, and the board and membership are responsible for the project if it fails.

But the decision made by the board didn't sit well with a small group of individuals, who chose to call an emergency meeting last week. Only three board members attended, and the president and vice-president were unavailable. To make matters worse, a motion was suggested to disband the whole board of directors. It was soundly defeated.

We understand that passions are high over this project. Years of blood, sweat and tears have been shed fund-raising and volunteering to make this project a reality, but petty politics and infighting are threatening to tear the project to shreds and divide the Sunshine Coast and its business community.

The actions taken at last week's meeting are irresponsible. The board of the chamber was elected last February and is fiscally and legally responsible for the chamber and its activities, as pointed out in a letter sent to all chamber members Thursday and obtained by Coast Reporter. If these people don't like what their chamber board is doing, they should stand up and run for election at the chamber AGM in February. It's the right and fair thing to do. What should be a good project for the chamber and the Sunshine Coast is turning into a circus. Let's hope the chamber can find some answers soon before it's too late.

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