Letters to the Editor

Developers make the economics of a city work

To the editor:

The City of Kelowna mayor and council deal with many issues and when they vote they do so based on their vision and values.

The tone taken by many letter writers indicates that development is and developers are somehow a bad thing for our city. I have dealt with developers and builders in Kelowna since 1972. They are truly the risk takers. If someone had not taken a risk, put up their own money to buy some land and develop it, we would not have the houses we live in and our favourite grocery store or clothing store would not have a place in which they can operate their business. I would guess that 80 per cent of all Kelowna businesses do not own the space from which they operate their business. They lease their space from developers.

The alternative to developers is some level of government putting in subdivisions and building commercial/industrial buildings. I prefer a system that encourages developers to continue to take the risk and develop residential and commercial properties.

Two major things prevent development from happening—restrictions that make the development unfeasible and a process that frustrates the developer. Future growth will happen although there are some ‘I am here now so close the door’ type of people in our city. In order for developers to continue the take the risks and meet our future growth, we need to have a city staff and city council that encourage development, don’t place restrictions that make a development unfeasible and have a process that is not frustrating.

I don’t see this vision and value in our current mayor and the majority of council.

Nor do not see the leadership in our current mayor or the decisiveness we need from the majority of this council. Residential development has gone from 1,711 units in 2007 to 820 units in 2010 and commercial/industrial development has gone from 658,434 sq. ft. in 2007 to 354,295 sq. ft. in 2010. Yet full-time equivalent city staff has gone from 422 in 2007 to 512 in 2010 (excluding police, fire and utilities).

In this election Mayor Shepherd is stating her number one issue is to have a zero or close to zero property tax increase. Where was the leadership of Mayor Shepherd and the majority of council in the last three years? Why was there no discussion during budget deliberations to reduce staff levels in planning, building and engineering? What is the same staff doing with half the customers they had in 2007? If this was a business and the economic times were such that the business lost 50 per cent of their volume, they could not afford to keep the same staff levels, no matter how talented they were. They would have reduced costs rather than increase costs. This has not happened with this current council.

There are some members of this council that understand these business concepts but they are in a minority. They need to have colleagues elected who will have the business sense to understand and control costs, reduce staff levels if need be, and make good solid decisions that will encourage growth and development from the private sector. In order to have a change on council we need to have a concerted effort to elect people that have alternative vision and values to some of the incumbents.

For me I will be voting for…the suggestions from FourChange.org. Not because I can’t think for myself or that I will agree with all of their suggestions, but because I want change and I understand the math. There are more than three to four new people that would do a better job than some of the incumbents but with 32 new people running for election as councillor, math tells me that unless a large number of voters vote for the same three or four people, the incumbents will be re-elected.

Gerry Fee,

Kelowna

 

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