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COMMENTARY · 22nd April 2012
Merv Ritchie
Having moved to Terrace in the middle of a controversy, having no family or friends here, having just begun a reporting opportunity, we exposed an underbelly of filth and despicable activities that remain bitter 6 years later.

The Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce (TDCC) was, and still is, a major part of the vile, base and disgraceful actions which to this day have businesses avoiding Terrace and the TDCC like it was hosting a plague. And that it is; a plague of intolerance, exclusivity, bigotry and superiority exhibited behind closed doors and in public pronouncements. It is a group of near-do-wells that think their excrement smells like potpourri while they stand in confusion wondering why no one joins their gang of coke snortin’ bigoted misfits.

Yes it’s true. Reports to us, after yours truly exposed the blatant lies of the Chamber of Commerce representatives and the previous Terrace CAO regarding the Terrace Tourism Society, were shocking to say the least. One TDCC member revealed details regarding the bigotry to the First Nations people at a local service group meeting. He was disgusted. He referred to open statements made during meetings as “venomous” when it came to discussing the local First Nations people. The hatred was palpable. Another TDCC member described the closed meeting after an awards ceremony where the members (including directors) broke out the mirrors and razor blades to chop up the blow for snorting. But these are only two of many exposures made to us personally.

One must wonder why so many good business people in Terrace refuse to join this club and why so many more have quit over the years.

We are certain not all club members are bigots and druggies but we are certain the percentage is not small given the numerous contacts and direct descriptions delivered to us personally. One must also remember these accounts began coming in during 2007 and 2008.

Today an entirely new contact questioned the attendance and exhibitors at this weekends trade show. Now called an “Expo”, it is very poorly attended by locals and has a high degree of governmental, charity and international industrialists with only an estimated 30 local businesses occupying the available 90 booths. Around town one can see numerous businesses hosting their own events avoiding the TDCC “Trade Expo”.

In 2006 Terrace observers witnessed the astounding success of the relatively new Terrace Tourism Society (TTS). The TDCC was operating the Visitor Information Center (VIC) in the log house on Keith Avenue near WalMart. Reports at the time were the call volume increased so dramatically, due to the marketing efforts of the new TTS promoting Terrace to the world, the TDCC needed to hire more staff to manage the overwhelming new interest in Terrace. For the Chamber however it was equally difficult to observe the amount of money now being directed straight into the TTS bank account, over $100,000 a year with a projected skyrocketing increase. The Chamber wanted some of this new money.

Both the current TDCC Executive Director (ED) and the ED of the Chamber in 2006 had applied to be the ED for the TTS but lost out to Jennifer Lewis who directed the succesful marketing campaign.

Some History Here

A very small select group of people orchestrate the TDCC. The disconnect was obvious when earlier this year the City of Terrace, via the newly elected council body, voted against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal. The Chamber, who refused to reveal who wrote their letter, slammed the elected Council for taking a position opposed to Enbridge. They addressed their letter to investors outside of Terrace.

Not a couple years earlier the TDCC stated they were in favour of the Liberal Governments HST which was clearly opposed by almost everyone in the Province. They made their support for the HST a public pronouncement without so much as even canvassing their own members. One must wonder who really runs the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce.

Terrace appears to be caught in a very difficult situation. The “Big Boys” who remain behind the scenes, the moneyed property owners and industrialists, have strings and abilities to manipulate. There are very few ways for the reasonable average Terrace business person or executive to express their displeasure and stand against the influence of the monetary opportunities these “Big Boys” can offer.

Making an income, being awarded contracts, being included in opportunities requires the individual to invest in relationships. Sometimes these relationships require the hiding of a political point of view and even a point of view regarding tolerance. If a major player despises the Indian culture and spouts off insults about totem poles and other traditional ceremonial events, one would know that to win a contract he or she would need to keep their mouth shut or even compromise their own morals by joining in with the insults. Alternatively if one doesn’t like the policies of the BC Liberal Party, well keeping your lips tight around the “Boys” and girls of the Chamber is also highly recommended.

These tyrannical control freaks can be found in all the organizations. The local Churches, Rotary, TEDA (Terrace Economic Development Authority), TDCC, KTIDS, the service clubs and more. The executive members change in all of these organizations and the membership fluctuates but there are common people who place themselves into all these organizations on a regular basis.

One of the difficulties for the community is how they are not informed, how these organizations continue to function legitimately without being questioned by the local media. The difficulty lies in the membership in these organizations include employees and executives (as well as intimate close friends of those) within the local media.

An analysis of this problem regarding the TTS and media coverage here

Reporting on ones own people and others; their nefarious deeds and unscrupulous activities, would be an outstanding step outside of reality. Revenue is dependant on business advertisers. Exposing a business or a representative group of an indiscretion, such as the TDCC, directly impacts ones revenue. As we have frequently claimed, the Chamber has a “Fatwa” against the Terrace Daily; advertising here exposes one to animosity from the elite.

When the Terrace Daily began the Hockeyville effort in 2008/2009, again those who manipulate the City took over the effort and excluded the Terrace Daily whenever possible, even though it began on our pages.

As a relative new comer to the local media scene it has always surprised us how much influence a small select group of people have on the financial well being of the community.

In 2006 while the local Chamber was trashing the Terrace Tourism Society they didn’t even have their own website up and running. We had looked up Terrace online prior to moving here and discovered the Terrace Tourism Society website. We found an attractive community we might be pleased to move too. On the other hand the TDCC site was re-directed to a template “buy a domain” site where frequently porn sites would be advertised. After exposing the Chamber for their manipulation and misinformation they regained control of their website; being required to purchase a new domain name. Today their site is down again and has been for over a year; “Under Construction” it states.

For two years we at the Terrace Daily have ignored addressing the Tourism issue as the new Society, Kermodei Tourism, was fighting for its life attempting to get the approval of the local hotel and motel operators to support them again. Even after the disgraceful way they were treated by the City and the Chamber in 2006 and 2007 we stepped aside for two years letting Kermodei have an uninhibited free ride in their effort . We believed it was in the City’s best interest to have this society funded but felt it best to stand back and let Terrace figure itself out.

Previously we had been accused of antagonizing the problem even though we had only recently arrived and simply reported on an issue the other local media refused to cover.

Exposing the inadequacies of TEDA in 2010 didn’t help the perception of the Terrace Daily. Even though the ED was let go from that organization, the harm to Terrace’s reputation by their activities lingers. Now TEDA answers directly to the City. The City also pays the bill to run it.

Today the Chamber remains an outcast to local businesses and the local Hotel and Motel operators have rejected the new City run Kermodei Tourism Society. TEDA struggles to be relevant but it too must question those guiding their foundation. Terrace has just lost an estimated $175,000 to $200,000 per year income from visiting tourists by the rejection of Kermodei and the City will need to find a way to address this issue.

The Chamber had previously encouraged the City to pay their Mayor a full time wage of about $75,000. This is a lot of things to pay for (a lot of lost income) after the same completely dysfunctional and irrelevant body of people directly impacted the City’s bottom line.

Just recently Kermodei took over the operation of the VIC from the Chamber. Now even the future of the VIC is in question.

Six years ago Terrace was on the verge of great things and then the TDCC with their backroom boys determined they knew how to handle things better. An active search and destroy mission persisted for two years, led by Terrace’s current Mayor, when finally the entire TTS board resigned. After the very last board meeting, where the Society was disbanded one of the instigators who “knew better” thrust his fist repeatedly in the air espousing a victory march theme as he left the Coast Hotel meeting room. This was the beginning of the Kermodei Tourism Society.

Many people complain about the crack and cocaine in Terrace and the surrounding village communities. Anyone who knows Coke knows it is a drug for the wealthy not the 9 to 5 burger flipper or customer service gal operating the cash register. Today small amounts appear in the Nass Valley rolled up in joints called coco puffs and sold to teens and pre teens. The larger quantities however are circulated in a much different crowd.

Those who are in business and who have lived in Terrace for half a dozen years or more know exactly why the Trade Show (oops Expo!) is not heavily populated by local business men and women, why the membership and participation in these groups has fallen dramatically. It is time to clean house. Spring Cleaning! What a great idea! The only question is if we have a Council who can separate the wheat from the chaff and do they have the strength of character to do it? And do we have a business community who will sacrifice income for virtue? And will the Terrace Daily survive to bring these commentaries to you?

It is Sunday so we express faith!
bigotry or just bad manners to everybody
Comment by billbraam on 30th April 2012
Sometimes it isn't bigotry but just plain bad manners to everybody. I'm not from any minority group but have been ignored, insulted, growled at by some really poorly trained customer service persons right here in Terrace. This is very insulting no matter which heredity we come from.
Comment by Homie on 28th April 2012
Bravo for exposing this ugliness.
Integrity of our leaders
Comment by S. Hurdell on 27th April 2012
I am 1st nation, native, indian or whatever label one prefers and have heard of the bigotry and felt it in Terrace and many other communities. People do tend to put all their eggs in one basket no matter who or what.
I would say I am surprised that this type of mindset or illegal use is still happening anywhere but unfortunately many people see what is happening but have no way to express themselves or just are not listened to because they are afraid of losing whatever status they enjoy as long as they keep quiet as to what they know not realizing that it makes them just as guilty as the perpetrators or not caring.
Terrace is not alone in this for sure but I have met some wonderful non-native people of Terrace and my heart goes out to them for trying their best to make a go of a world that has so much against them.
In regards to racism towards Natives
Comment by Johnny DeMedeiros Cabral on 27th April 2012
We are all brothers and sisters wether we like it or not.Its up to everyone of us to live together and work together in harmony for a better future.Which in the end would be better for all of us.
Sad, but true.
Comment by GC on 26th April 2012
Do you know what?
Comment by Janice Robinson on 23rd April 2012
I am not saying that Terrace is the only place where we can find bigots who practice racism openly, and without shame, but:

I spent my formative years in beautiful Prince Rupert, and went to school with what looked like the future League of Nations... Japanese, Italians, Scottish, Tsimshian, Nisga'a, Chinese, English, etcetera. My best friend from Grade 1 until I sadly moved to Terrace was a beautiful red-haired girl (her father worked for CN) named Linda. For many years, Linda was madly "in love" with a native ne'er-do-well named Arnold. Jimmy Ciccone was one of our leaders, even way back then. We all didn't think in colour. We thought in right and wrong. All our parents worked together too, in various places: the canneries, restaurants, bars, stores, fishing boats, etcetera.

When I first observed blatant racism, it was in highschool, by teachers and other students. Even though it was not against me, I was shocked, and I reached out to those who were stung by it. They were usually more vulnerable than me (for various reasons), and less likely to speak up. I have been blessed with light skin, a "normal" body, good looks, self-esteem, and a mouth. I am not a good target, but these racist bullies are good at identifying non-threatening targets, aren't they? And they do get away with it, and thrive in the very community where they practice racism, don't they?

Talk about the dangers of volunteering: Not long ago, an upstanding citizen of Terrace phoned me, and asked me to volunteer in a local, award-winning, First Nations little theatre venture as it was departing to an event on Vancouver Island. I also used my own camera to video all the performances. For six, long, torturous months I witnessed the non-First Nations director and crew members jealously and maliciously slander, abuse, steal from, mock, and mentally torture those beautiful Native actors until the whole company just withered away and died. Their non-Native jealousy and racism was/is so strong, that even they cannot control it. This travesty involved award-winning actors. My job was to "babysit" native cast members, and help the director navigate Indian politics on Vancouver Island. (At the time, the Native cast members were the only sober ones, although empty wine bottles and the unmistakeable smell of pot were common after a successful show!) She seen no sense in the concepts of foreign, Native, territory, nor in gift-giving to our First Nations hosts.... I was privy to hidden racism and criticism as somehow I was viewed as different at first, and it was thought I might be just as morally corrupt. Two cast members were so damaged and disillusioned by it all that they still have not recovered to this day. You can kill somebody with your (racist) mouth.

The non-Native, racist perpetrators? They all left the situation unscathed, and continue to work in multi-cultural situations. Maybe they're still winos, potheads, and hang out with the local Chamber of Commerce. First Nations' theatre in Terrace? Dead. And, I am still the protector with the mouth.... I have always spoken up for those who cannot stand for themselves, for whatever reason.

Has the Terrace Chamber of Commerce sunk this low? Well, some Native politicians deserve their wrath......but surely not Natives in general. Terrace is nothing without us.

Sadly, racism is a fact of our lives.

Why focus on drugs
Comment by Rick Smith on 23rd April 2012
The real issue is the bigots, who cares about anyone doing drugs, drinking, smokin pot or snortin coke, everyone has there own. I find the comments about the bigots the worst
Snorting coke?
Comment by c. sandecki on 23rd April 2012
If members of the Chamber of Commerce feel so secure they blatantly sit back after a meeting and snort coke in plain view of all present, what sort of leverage do they have over any dissenters to be sure those not partaking in coke will keep their mouths shut?
Or are there no dissenters?
This cant be good for Terrace
Comment by Johnny DeMedeiros Cabral on 23rd April 2012
This talk of business leaders doing cocaine and who know what other leaders are.This is not good.
Comment by S. Horner on 23rd April 2012
Why would they go to a Kitimat designer to design their site? Are there no designers here in Terrace that could have had the job done months ago? The TDCC does not support small business in Terrace. That is why I never joined them.
This is appalling to hear in my community.
Comment by Johnny DeMedeiros Cabral on 23rd April 2012
Wow.Is this really true.Coc snorting.What is going on? This cant be good for Terrace.And these are some of the leaders and who are running business in town.
TDCC lost it's way
Comment by Chris on 22nd April 2012
Yes it is disappointing to see a 'business expo' with so few local businesses represented. There were a bunch of exhibitors that seem to have little or nothing to do with local business, like the invasive plant booth, heritage park, dry grad, and the cancer society. These are all great projects but they are not 'business'. Call it a community expo maybe? Just another example of TDCC being very out of touch with local business.
Terrace has an opportunity !...
Comment by Jennifer Lewis on 22nd April 2012
Terrace has an opportunity to learn from it's past mistakes and restructure the Community groups it funds.

When The City took over the Healthy marketing money from The marketing group they created their own group and the new group had a new mandate. They named it Kermodei Tourism.

Kermodei Tourism was to be tourism marketing, tourism product development, Tourism Economic development, tourism research, tourism education, tourism visitor information. Kermodei was going to accomplish all of this for with a budget of how much? $200 000.00

By comparison Kamloops has the same mandate and they are funded 1.2 million dollars. $250 000.00 direct funding from their City Council.

Terrace doesn't have the resources to find 2 Economic Development organizations, nor do we have the funds to operate Visitor Information Centre. Our VIC is closed most of the time. Both offices have staff and overhead that is not needed if we had one office , one community resource, funded by one source, accountable to one elected council.

It is time for all these groups to be funded as one, working as one, for one goal.

After all it is our community, our taxes and our kids future that depends on it.

That could explain the number of exhibitors
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 22nd April 2012
Past trade fairs have been far better than this year. We thought there might be more exhibitors in the banquet room, especially when half of the arena display area was over-taken by just one business, but not this year.

If an organization can't even run and maintain a web site, when their whole function is to promote business, there is something seriously wrong.

This recent, poorly attended trade show (compared to past years) could be another indication that changes are very much over-due. Was this incompetence, a vendetta against the TDCC, or was there no effort to include many of the smaller businesses and home-based businesses that usually attend?
the smithers inferor news
Comment by Terry on 22nd April 2012
they said they would be as of april 16th charge for their online paper for those that are not subscribers of their hard copy . I can still access the online copy . Did they back off ? Or is black press part of the campaign to destroy any other voice . Your voice in the must not be destroyed merv. Independent thinkers in terrace should advertise their business in the as many of them come here to shop . If only you take the time to advertise your free ads for used autos , garage sales etc. you will help to keep it alive . If you the next time you go shopping check out the dealer tags on the back of the trucks and cars parked in the parking lots of terrace businesses . You will see the patrons you are missing out on.
Hotel and Motel operators who liked Kermodei
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 22nd April 2012
Sometimes there is just too much to add to a story. Those who supported Kermodei in this round were mostly those who bought the hotels/motels from those who quit and or sold out in disgust. Copper River Motel is one classic example. Though not a part of the TTS directorship, the owners were completely upset, sold and moved out as quick as they could.

The Best Western and the Coast Inn both changed hands after the TTS/Kermodei/Chamber fiasco. The new owners were not exposed to the tragedy of 2006/2007. Dulles and her husband sold the Best West and left Terrace altogether,

The Wild Duck RV Park owners were intimately involved and sold out quickly. The Sandman was managed by Scott who happily left Terrace. The Sandman still will not support the City's Kermodei tourism nor will most of the others who were hurt emotionally and financially by the efforts of Pernarowski, the Chamber and City staffers.

It is interesting to note the local printed paper, the Standard by Black Press did not front page the story. Buried on page A9 the front page is about the School board keeping the Thornhil school gym open.

We suppose the City losing $200,000 per year and maybe more is not important. Not front page news apparently.
good old boys
Comment by Terry on 22nd April 2012
is this also why global news is almost silent as to what we have and what goes on in terrace . Smithers seems to be their darling and terrace is only mentioned occasionally in the weather slot if ever .
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 22nd April 2012
And this commentary doesn't even begin to address the numerous volunteers in Terrace who are not just ignored but are completely disrespected for their efforts. Volunteer appreciation nights are closed unadvertised meetings for volunteeers only part of the "In Crowd".

It is a disgrace, pure and simple.