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Business "bashing" accusation puts end to economic meeting
for South Peace News
A member of the Town of High Prairie’s economic development pursuit committee stormed out of the meeting May 28 after being accused of “bashing” local businesses over high prices.
Barry Sharkawi left the meeting after accusations made toward him by Michael Smith, saying he no longer wanted to hear such accusations.
Since there were only four people who attended the meeting, the quorum was broken upon Sharkawi’s exit.
The matter arose while the committee was discussing ways to attract businesses and people to the town.
Committee member Pat Monahan told the group that industry will attract people, which will attract smaller businesses. He said the committee’s focus should be on trying to attract large companies and the rest would follow.
Smith talked about meeting with different industries personally.
“I think it’s a lot better if council shows up at a company’s doorstep and shows them what we have to offer, rather than sending a letter,” he said. “If we have to go to Calgary to talk to the big oil companies, then that’s what we should do."
Sharkawi, however, focused on the higher prices at the different stores in town, including the gas stations. He felt it wasn’t fair that residents in High Prairie have to pay so much extra for day-to-day items.
Sharkawi was especially upset about one company that charges between 20-30 per cent more than the same store in Peace River.
Smith defended the business, saying it wasn’t a fair comparison. He also told Sharkawi that he didn’t like it when people started “bashing” local businesses.
Sharkawi said he was not “bashing” the business, but added it was unfair for them to charge so much extra.
Smith reminded Sharkawi just how much this particular company gives back to the community in terms of donations and community involvement.
Sharkawi countered by saying other companies in other towns provide the same community support but still didn’t charge extra for their goods.
The discussion continued until Sharkawi finally left.
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