Too important to not have a referendum

You know if Westbank, Kamloops and other places can have referendums, why can’t Penticton on an issue as ultra-important as a public park that was mostly donated by generous citizens, in a “city” (town) of only 33,000 people.

This lease “sale” of parklands for 39 years will have a huge, huge impact. What’s happening behind the scene? And ,are the mayor and council getting something out of this?

Note to the two lawsuits; don’t give the town any leeway on postponements. They are just jerking you and the citizens around to buy time, hoping it will disappear. There is nothing, nothing to negotiate. It’s not a done deal. I think we’re being too passive in our demonstrations. We should have clogged Main Street instead of in the park. What are they going to do? Arrest 500 to 600 people? No way.

Note to the mayor and council — West Kelowna’s upcoming referendum over whether to build a new city hall and civic centre is an example of B.C.’s long tradition of direct democracy, according to a UBC Okanagan political scientist.

“In political science, we always talk about B.C. citizens having a long tradition of populism,” said Carey Doberstein, assistant professor of political science at UBCO.” (found on CBC).

So do the right thing mayor and council, fess-up that you screwed up,  Tear up the contract and get on with running a town council for the citizens that elected you, this is not a dictatorship.

Georges & Cheryl Jansen



Listen and act

I’m from Sydney, Australia, staying with my sister, married to a Penticton man, living here for over 20 odd years.

I was fortunate to be staying here when the wonderful play area at Skaha was being built. I took my niece and nephew to play, run, enjoy this play area. What pleasure it gave to all of us.

What it did for the children, parents of this lovely family orientated town was incredible. I watch from their house above this area, the happiness, the laughter, the get together of friends, enjoying this wonderful area created by the very productive council, the vision they had then.

What’s happened now?

They are taking this area away to something that only would benefit a small group of people for a short period of time, in my point of view.

Please, listen to the people of your wonderful town — their needs, their concerns. It’s the future that they are concerned about, not greed.

The needs of the people is of utmost importance.

Please listen and act for the best of the community — their children, parents and grandparents. Very important people.

Thanks for listening to my concerns

Lyn Barry



Ask the public

So now the council has to hire someone to tell this council where they’ve gone wrong?

In the 50 years that I have been a resident of this city, has any council had to hire someone to tell them what they’ve done wrong? Save our taxes, ask anyone in any coffee shop in town and they will soon tell this council.

Simply put council, you’re not reading the public’s interest or city policies. Example: you have certainly not handled the Skaha Park, Trio fiasco in accordance with public interest or city policy and bylaws. You may recall, over a thousand people gathered outside city hall and demanded a referendum before that contract was awarded. You had the blessing of 1,000 residents, plus all the other residents who have spoken out loudly since that evening. Giving their blessing then and since then to spend their taxes on a referendum? All seven of you on council, completely ignored the public — your employers — and signed the Trio contract that same evening.

Not only did you sign it, but you ignored the policy of this city to demand a “bond” from Trio to cover any loss the city may incur (look at the dormitory fiasco). Not one of you referred to the appropriate bylaw the evening you voted to award the contract. That is a pure lack of responsibility to justify your decision to approve the contract.  Saying that your children wanted a waterslide in the park does not justify awarding such a controversial contract. Your only decision that evening was to debate the public’s outspoken interest to hold a referendum — with more than one polling station.

Not only are we now faced with the cost of lawyers from Victoria, plus local lawyers to sort this mess out, we are now faced with having to pay for another new management person to come and tell you why people are so upset with your failure to administer the city.

I’ll be over my number of permitted words if I were to include all your other bad judgements, decisions you have given us over the last two years.

Jake Kimberley



Refusing to back down to Penticton city council

I attended the rally at Gyro Park on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

There was a good turnout, probably around 400 or so people. The speakers were interesting, and much good came from it, in my opinion. Hopefully people will become more involved and attend more council meetings.

The reason I am writing this letter, however, is because of something I heard earlier in the day that deeply disturbs me. Prior to attending the rally, I was at the Penticton Racquet and Fitness Club doing a workout and I struck up a conversation with another gentleman over on the next bench.

I started speaking about the rally that was to occur later in the day, and the subject inevitably turned to municipal affairs.

I have heard on numerous occasions that Penticton is struggling to attract new businesses to help boost our faltering economy. This particular gentleman tells me his original intention upon returning to Penticton was to open a business in the industrial maintenance field, but when he went to city hall to check out the startup kiosk and ask about starting his business, he was told by the person operating the kiosk that “This is not the type of business Penticton is really looking for; we are looking more for tourist-based businesses. You would be much better off going to Kelowna or Vernon.”

When you consider the rate managers are being hired at city hall, we really could use the added tax revenue. We are the proverbial beggars, desperate for businesses to come here. Can we really afford to be this choosy?

This just makes me throw up my hands in disgust and bewilderment. One thing is for sure, we need to clean house and start over with a new mayor and council that actually listen. This “engagement officer” they are hiring is nothing more than a fancy name for $85,000 spin doctor. This person is only going to inform the public of what is happening, and not to take public input.

As far as Skaha Park is concerned, I have a message for the Magnificent Seven. You are in for one hell of a fight. And for the record, I, for one, refuse to tap out.

Mark Billesberger




What is reality in Penticton?

We can look up this word in any dictionary and lexicographers, in all probability will, have similar definitions except for their own interpretations.

Having said that, you may be wondering where I am going with this. I am going to role play as a quasi-lexicographer with reference to our illustrious current civic leaders.

My perception of reality with reference to current civic politics is:

R: is for realistic, reliability, responsibility, rationality — most of which have apparently avoided  the pundits at city hall.

E: is for economic efficiency, earnestness — that should be shown toward constituent taxpayers on important public issues—appear to be almost non-existent.

A: is for accountability, accessibility — without these reality is pie in the sky.

L: is for logic, lawsuit(s), lame-duck decisions and choices, lack of common sense — all of these seem to apply here.

I: is for integrity, immanence, inclusivity and insignificance — the last two made in reference to taxpayers evidently not being part of any major decision made either verbally or by  referendum. (Skaha Park as an example)

T: is for transparency, trustworthiness, truthfulness, tax efficiency — pick one that could be graded as an “A.” (Hard pressed are you?)

Y: is for Yin and Yang: supposedly a product of working together for total betterment. It just is not happening with this disingenuous council. (no park referendum).

In summary, reality, in the true sense of the word does not seem to exist at 100 Main St. What do you think?

Ron Barillaro



Change for the better

In a recent letter to the editor (Penticton Western News, Sept. 30, Nothing wrong with change) the writer decries the fact that so many are against change at Skaha Park. He, himself is apparently calling for change for “change’s” sake.

If change isn’t for the better, why change at all? We are not “so into ourselves” that we see the proposed change as threatening; we see it as threatening because we don’t want any public park turned into a private, profitable business.

As for living in the past, most of us would sure prefer that to a profit-driven, privatized park future.

Joy Lang




How the Penticton deficit came to be

In reference to our $175 million infrastructure needs, we should analyze how this came to be.

For about the last five years I spent working for the city, I have been witness to ever-shrinking operational budgets. Instead of listening to experts within the city ranks, present and past mayors and councils have basically ignored requests for infrastructural repair/replacement in favour of unnecessary mega projects (hockey dorm, pool (and we all see what a great job was done there), and how many millions wasted so far on the Skaha Park water slide issue. The downtown revitalization in the 200-block of Main Street was a little over the top with the raised intersections and fancy bricks. I wonder how much money could have been saved without this?

The plow drivers are really going to love this, but I guess mayor and council did not consider this.

The people I feel sorry for are the departmental managers. They have been under the gun for years to still try and get the job done on basically a shoestring budget. It must be incredibly stressful.

There were years of no tax increases (and even a tax decrease one year) under the Ashton regime when everyone knows we could not afford this and expect to maintain a minimum standard with respect to our infrastructure.

What it all boils down to, ladies and gentlemen, is poor fiscal management by mayors and councils past and present. End of story.

Off topic, I see Trio Marine came in at the 11th hour just under the wire with a financial plan in place for the marina and restaurant. I would love to know which financial institute backed this project so I can avoid it like the plague. It would be an extremely risky roll of the dice for any bank or credit union, as far as I am concerned. Maybe Trio marine got a hold of Loren Reagan for the cash.

I would be extremely upset if I were to find out the city was backing this by lending out taxpayer money.

Mark Billesberger



Spending will be remembered

The LocoLanding parking lot was recently metered.

Two pedestal meters and 10 signs are now in place. Typical of the mayor’s approach to running the city, the lot was metered without consulting the public or the surrounding businesses.

If you disapprove of this decision and tactic give the mayor a call.  That is after all six of our councillors return from busily spending $30,000 of tax payer money attending  the annual UBCM meeting in Victoria.  When last years meeting is added in, the total grows to $60,000.  The figure will double to $120,000 by the time their four year term ends.

Perhaps the money could be spent more wisely. Which of the following would be most beneficial to residents?  (1) Paying for the group to attend four days of meetings, the results of which you never hear about, or:  (2) adding more portable picnic tables to the beaches and parks;  providing portable bike racks for summer events;  keeping the Gyro band shell tidy;  adding beach front drinking fountains;  keeping the channel  bike path free of gravel;  repairing protrusions on bike trails caused from root growth and deteriorating concrete;  doing a deal with the Penticton Indian Band to provide more parking for channel floaters at the Skaha end, and;  how about bundling major projects and holding an annual referendum so the public can have a say in the decision making process.

Attending the UBCM meetings and the failure to hold referendums for major decisions are financial contradictions that will be remembered come the next election cycle.

C. Otto Knaak



Due date for City of Penticton and Trio

The deadline date, Oct. 1, 2016, for Trio Marine’s proposed development at Skaha, Mayor Jakubeit is now saying, “..staff still requires some time to clarify, research and write a report for council to consider on how we proceed.”

I take this as another example of your lack of respect and regard for the thoughts and wishes of thousands of us residents and visitors to this community, who have petitioned against the leasing of Skaha Park for commercial development, who have been sadly shocked and disappointed in you, who have been kept on hold in this very  important matter. Or, is it an admission of incompetence?

Surely not the latter, as you, your staff, Trio and all the lawyers have had plenty of time to consider the options and to prepare for this due date.

Oct. 1, 2016 was the (additional year extension) due date given to answer, does Trio met the expectations, or do they not?

Hannah Hyland



Densification needs sufficient green space

F.M. Bradley (Penticton Western News, letters to the editor, Sept. 28) has it right. We actually need more green space.

One policy our city council espouses correctly is densification.  Penticton doesn’t have an infinity of land available for residential development. If it wasn’t for the forward-thinking leadership of Penticton Indian Band Chief Kruger there would already be a severe single family housing crunch. Council’s promotion of densification is wise and crucial to our on-going residential needs.  More young families can access good living space through purchases of affordable townhouses located in tight clusters. Retired and semi-retired couples who travel frequently often prefer condos (either in towers or low-rise blocks).

To make this a dynamic and livable concept in a climate like ours, people need outdoor space. To ensure sufficient access there needs to be parks — the more townhouses and condos, the more parks. These parks are, in essence, the backyards for residents of such facilities.

Recently a respected local developer has began building, in addition to a large townhouse complex, three high-rise towers near Skaha Lake. There already exist other condos in the area and council has authorized more infill with multiple family dwellings.  They all require access to park space — areas for kids’ play, walking pets, outside space for simple relaxing, seasonal access for swimming, paddle-boarding and wind-surfing. Thus the need for all the current green space at Skaha Lake Park and in the years ahead probably even more.

Densification is good, but it only works if there is sufficient green space nearby to make it all livable.

To make the policy work, councillors, keep and even expand Skaha Lake Park.

Glenn Sinclair