Letter: Proposed alternate location for West Kelowna city hall

A true civic centre calls for multiple venues that serve the entire community.

Open letter to West Kelowna mayor and council:

Having just watched the YouTube video of the West Kelowna Taxpayers ‘Watchdog on Alternate Locations for a City Hall,   why on Earth would you select such a small location for your, so-called, civic centre? Your selection of the currently proposed site is not appropriate for a civic centre. It may accommodate your city hall space requirement but it does not accommodate room for further expansion of a civic centre.

A true civic centre calls for items such as; a municipal building or building complex, space for conventions, sports events, theatrical entertainment, exhibition halls, a museum, police offices,  courts, and libraries or other community or cultural facilities. In some very good locations the civic centre also includes venues for sporting events, exercise/running tracks, concerts and similar events that can bring larger events to our community.

The proposed small site at Elliott and Gossett is going to cost taxpayers $655,000 over and above the construction costs for the city hall. It has a very small footprint, does not allow for appropriate parking and access without upgrading Elliott and Gossett Roads which are not in your city hall budget, (they may be in the city budget but not the city hall budget). The location has a very small public square that according to the Yes [side referendum] office is owned by the developer and must be leased by the city, and from the drawings, will be used by the proposed restaurant for tables, chairs, and umbrellas.

Speaking of the Yes offices, they also said that there will be 3,500 sq ft of lease space available on the top floor. Which brings up another question: Originally the top floor, roughly 10,000 sq ft, was for lease, then it dropped to 6,000 sq ft during the alternative approval process, and now according to the Yes office, it has dropped to 3,500 sq ft. Why? Also, it was mentioned that the 75 city employees and the 55 IHA employees would park at the adjacent Lordco/library parking lot. Is this another cost for a lease that we taxpayers do not know about?

The city owns 11 vacant acres of land at 2515 Bartley Road. Why are you not building in this location? Building your city hall here, would clean up the area, provide more, less expensive, parking—digging out an underground parking lot for your proposed city hall probably cost an additional $1 million and you only get 33 parking spots—provide better access to the public, could move all of our city departments to one location, (which means we could sell off that land to help pay for the new civic centre at this location), provide more space for a proper museum, a better tourist bureau, have available space for a future court house, accommodate a sports facility that could double as exhibition space and very large civic gatherings. It just makes so much more sense to start by building your city hall here, moving your two operations departments here (selling off those two locations), build your works yard here, and when funds or sponsors become available, build more sports fields. All of this will take time but it is a better plan over the next 30 years than the current plan. One location for everything public is a true civic centre.

So what are you doing? What is so important about this out of the way small piece of property that will cost taxpayers more money? Can you not see that the taxpayers do not want to spend unnecessarily? Don’t worry about the developer, he can look after himself. Don’t worry about Interior Health; they have their own property that they can build on. (And that brings up another question; if Interior Health paid over $3.45 million to the former Kelowna mayor Walter Gray and his business partners for their 8.2 acres of property at the corner of Brown and Bering Roads in West Kelowna, why is it only taxed at around $477,000?).

You are there to look after the taxpayers money, not help developers get wealthier.

H. Sterling, West Kelowna