Council: the worst of 2015

Dear Editor:

Bad decisions made by this council in 2015.

1. Council’s main initiative behind the Skaha Park lease was for the City to take 50 per cent of the profits to offset increases to property taxes. The other 50 per cent was to go into the park acquisition fund. Because of the strong public opposition, council decided to take 100 per cent of their share of the profits to buy more public parkland. The decision to put 100 per cent of the money into new parks goes against the initial intent of the lease. Council voted against their own initiative! Bad decision all around.

2. The next controversial decision is council’s creation of Economic Investment Zones. This policy was initially introduced to encourage investment and development in the downtown core. Council was advised at the time that the infrastructure down Main Street can not support increased density.

The EIZ policy gives new property tax exemption for up to 10 years. To date the council has exempted about $1-million in property taxes under this policy. Council doesn’t seem to understand, it’s the economy that encourages development not property tax exemptions. This policy is undoubtedly going to mean a significant loss in tax revenue over the next 10-plus years and place the loss on the existing residential properties.

3. Council is now appealing to the court to have the retroactive wage settlement they paid to the firefighters ($1.9-million) partially refunded, because they submit to the court the City could not afford it!

Having delayed a settlement with the firefighters for two years, council asked for arbitration, however, they received the same answer as the first arbitration! Penticton firefighters shall receive wage parity with all other municipalities in B.C. An absolutely ridiculous argument to put before the court, plus another cost for legal fees.

4. Despite the appeal to say you afford the settlement with the firefighters, Council has found $500,000 to put lights across the 100 block on Main Street. According to the Herald, these proposed lights will probably only be turned on 10 days in the year. Main Street is structurally falling apart, it shows that council are ignoring their first priority — infrastructure!

Ignoring our infrastructure is giving visitors a bad impression and giving Penticton an appearance of being a run-down, poorly managed and in a city financial crisis.

Just a thought, don’t build the proposed road from Main Street to Martin Street on the north end of City Hall, just extend Gyro Park to the north end of City Hall, adding more park to the city with permanent washrooms on the west side.

5. The City over many years purchased private homes on the corner of Eckhardt and Power Street to increase parking for Memorial Arena. Now council intends to lease that valuable parking area for the new casino. The SOEC is already short of parking?

I suggest council you look into assisting the casino to relocate to the El Rancho property. You can use some of the casino’s annual $1.6 million to help pay for the property and lease it back to them. Turn a bad decision into a good one.

Happy New Year.

Jake Kimberley

Penticton