Letter: Hope for transparency out of Kelowna principles strategy

Two principles in particular, transparency and balance, will be welcome to all residents.

To the editor:

It’s easy to miss important local news during a long election campaign, fire-season, family BBQs, stock-market jitters, and tragic stories of refugees attempting to reach sanctuary in foreign lands, too often at the risk of their lives. That’s a lot to think about.

The important local news is a 15-page document entitled “Principles and Strategies for Financial Strength and Stability” prepared for the City of Kelowna by Urban Systems Ltd. The report was approved by council on August 24, and will serve as a “reference for Council, City Manager, senior leadership and staff when considering financial decisions.”

It may also help to enlighten residents who have not always (if ever) understood how the city makes its decisions. The report has five financial principles worth knowing and understanding. Why? Because it is easier than solving world problems. But there is a connection, as the seeds of global problems begin to sprout at the local level.

The ongoing imbalance in service levels to dog owners may finally be redressed if city manager, senior leadership, staff, and council apply the principles, or rule of decision-making, proposed and adopted by council.

Two principles in particular, transparency and balance, will be welcome to all residents, not just dog owners. To quote the report: “Being transparent ultimately builds trust and benefits the community overall.”

Balance, the need for “consistent and quality services” fits nicely with transparency. If city authorities adopt these two rules, residents will not have to wonder why some dogs designated as dangerous are released on conditional consent orders while others become residents of the pound for months and even years. Transparency is not served when an explanation is not forthcoming. Only secrecy is served by costly court trials in one case and releases in another.

As well, the two principles ought to shed light on why there is a disproportionate number of sports fields, and a miniscule number of urban off-leash dog parks and why the city has, for more than 10 years, been unsuccessful in finding just one more beach park for dog owners.

The principle of transparency and balance, if observed by the city, may also explain why the city remains silent about its intentions for the 13 lakefront properties it owns along Abbott Street and Meikle Road. The properties have been rezoned to P3 (park), but so far only the paddle club has been leased three of the properties. Where is the transparency and balance here?

I welcome the report nevertheless, as I would welcome our government implementing an action plan to bring destitute refugees to Canada.

Helen Schiele, Kelowna