When I was a kid growing up in Saskatchewan, I noticed a small town about 25 kilometers from the city where I lived had a big sale of building lots. The town did a small subdivision and offered to sell the fully serviced building lots for a dollar each.
I asked my father: “How could that be?” He replied that this was just plain good business. He went on to explain that anyone who purchased one of the lots had to guarantee to build a home on it and move in within one year.
Small towns everywhere were shrinking and local businesses were disappearing so anything to increase the population was good business. The tax base would increase and the little downtown core could survive a bit longer. He told me many small towns close to cities were doing the same thing, and I then understood.
So when I see the bickering and the hand-wringing about the Sino Bright land purchase and small-minded complaining about the land being sold too cheaply, I shake my head. Any small city in Canada would fall over backward to attract hundreds of international students who would add support to their beleaguered school systems. 400 international students living in our community and paying substantial fees for the privilege of attending our schools would be an unbelievable boost to our economy.
As each year goes by we are closer to the closing of the mill and the loss of hundreds of jobs. Any efforts to attract industry, especially such a clean industry, needs to be applauded and enthusiastically encouraged. As far as I am concerned the city could sell the land to this organization for a dollar and it would still be a sound and wise decision.
Young international students attending our schools and having the opportunity of seeing and learning about life in Canada would be a fantastic thing. Plus, the opportunity local students would experience having international students to meet and learn from them would be equally valuable.
Canada’s universities would not be able to exist without thousands of international students who attend and pay huge tuition fees.
So pick up the phone [Powell River] mayor Dave Formosa, extend a welcome to this group and be sure to let them know they would find a friendly and welcoming community here, where there would be a true opportunity for their young people to learn all about a friendly Canada and its friendly people.
Jerry Eskes is a Powell River resident.