Michaels: Kelowna city council needs to infuse budget with a bit of dragon’s breath

Can you hear ennui? If so, it just washed over our home and native land.

Canadians need to pay closer attention to the Chinese Zodiac and live it up a little.

By month’s end we’ll be well into the Year of the Dragon, which is all about bluster, pomp, circumstance and over-the-top celebrations of varying fire-breathing forms.

You know, because that’s what dragons are like.

Canucks currently, however, are taking their cue from a lower caste of mythical being that’s more content with sulking and penny-pinching.

A report released this week shows we’re more gloomy  about the economy today than we’ve  been in two decades.

In fact, the vast majority of us believe the recovery has run out of steam and the nation is in a recession, says the Pollara polling firm that rolls out the annual tracking poll.

In their pulse-taking exercise, 70 per cent of respondents polled online in December felt Canada is already in a recession, a five point rise from the previous year.

Around 40 per cent of respondents didn’t expect the economy to change and another 27 per cent believe things will get worse.

One-third of respondents said their own financial situation had lost ground over the past few years — a six-point increase from the number of people who reported the same last year. There’s also been an eight-point surge in concern over the value of people’s investments.

Can you hear ennui? If so, it just washed over our home and native land.

Of course, Kelowna isn’t any different, which is being best demonstrated by city hall.

With interest in a zero per cent tax increase top of mind, city staffers ventured forth on a mission of a frugality. Stopping short of clipping coupons, they tightened pursestrings in a manner not seen since 1985 and offered up a provisional budget decrease of 0.04 per cent.

There won’t be any rolling blackouts to achieve this goal— in fact, street lights are could get all sorts of financial attention thanks to prolific copper wire thieves— but job vacancies will remain unfilled, street sweeping budgets will atrophy and transit will take a $300,000 hit.

The suggestions aren’t as vicious as was seen last year at Penticton’s city hall when job cuts became the norm,  but should they be?

Kelowna city managers rightly toot their own horns about the fact they’ve been smart about the structure of the municipality. A lot of jobs are contracted out, which keeps payroll costs at a reasonable level and it’s not like there are civil servants out there throwing cash around.

So, can’t we live a little?

There are things this community needs moving forward, such as police forces that aren’t burnt out and buses that can cater to a growing population of students.

These things and more are the foundational elements of the Kelowna that everyone and their dog says they want us to have, but conveniently forgets when the word “taxes” is raised.

I’m not saying we should go all Greece and thrown caution and our financial obligations to the wind. But long-term practicality has to have its upside and a city budget with a bit of the dragon’s presence would fit the bill. And a few extra flower pots wouldn’t hurt either.




Kelowna Capital News