I sympathize with the small shops in Lower Gibsons that have posted “We support the George Hotel” signs. Many are struggling businesses that hope the George will bring tourists who would buy their goods. Others hope their property taxes will go down if the George were to top up the tax coffers. Others simply believe in the laissez faire theory of business: regulations be damned; entrepreneurs should be allowed to do whatever they please because their profits will trickle down to the rest of us.

No matter why they support the George, these shops deserve our sympathy–because if the George were to succeed as they wish, these shops would be unlikely to remain in business very long.

The reason is that most of the shops are renters. If the George were allowed to significantly veer from the Gibsons’ standard, how could council possibly say no to other developers who ask for the same generous treatment? And then another developer would come along. And then another developer.

But land is scarce along the waterfront. The logical conclusion is that commercial land values would rise and those old low-level buildings on Marine Drive and Gower Point Road would be sold and demolished. The George and the James and the Jean Hotels would emerge glorious, modern and big.

So much for the little shops. Let’s tell them we love them while they’re still here.