To the editor:
Re: Second Public Hearing For Controversial Café, Capital News, June 17.
The Bal family, owners of the so-called “controversial café” at Hillcrest Farms, filed precise, documented evidence with the City of Kelowna and council for a first public hearing, June 15, 2015. That hearing was deferred until June 30, to look at re-zoning and obtaining a business license for the café. Close examination of the documents will illuminate the exhausting bureaucratic frustration, and changing goal posts, endured by the owners for far too long. It is like peeling back the rotting layers of an onion.
The Bal’s documentation is a searing indictment of how changing goal posts, bureaucratic semantics and selective interpretation of rules, extend far beyond what on the surface appears to be a simple application for rezoning and obtaining a business license. It’s simply not that simple.
Elected officials are held to a high standard. It is fair to say that those appearing before council have a democratic right to expect a fair, balanced, impartial, unbiased and non-prejudicial hearing on all matters and evidence before council. This is in keeping with a councillors’ Oath of Public Office, which mandates their duties be performed faithfully and with integrity.
But can the Bal family truly expect to receive a fair, balanced, impartial, unbiased and non-prejudicial hearing? Has the integrity and stewardship of public office already been compromised in their case?
Council as a whole, or individual councilors, have no right to impugn the character of an individual or their family, and it’s particularly egregious and toxic when done publicly.
Coun. Charlie Hodge, who voted against holding the first public hearing as well as the second public hearing, is quoted yet again in The Kelowna Capital News as stating in a comment that was rich with targeted bias, that the move to hold a second hearing appeared to him to “reward bad behaviour.”
Coun. Hodge’s inflammatory comments, which are short on specifics and long on innuendo, can have far-reaching consequences and serve to ignite the fires of public antipathy for those who are not privy to the details surrounding the case, and who subsequently blog unkindly about something they do not fully understand.
To willfully place this well known, honourable family and their quest in a deceitful light, can only serve to publicly impugn the good character and integrity of the Bal family, and call into question just how fair, unbiased, impartial and non-prejudicial Coun. Hodge can be. The Office of the Mayor and system at large have never publicly disavowed such-ill advised character assassination, and should also be called into account for what Coun. Hodge’s non-benign comments represent. Silence is not golden.
The Bal’s good name has been ill-served by the City of Kelowna, as their well-documented information presented to the city makes clear to truth seekers.
Their truth is a fluid news story of great magnitude and their saga will be the catalyst for change within the farming community.
This story of what the Bal’s have endured, and the recriminations surrounding their quest, will prevail long after the second hearing.
Perhaps if there is any reward for bad behaviour it is that the taxpayers he represents pay Coun. Hodge, and he uses the media and his official position to blight the reputations of these outstanding community members appearing before him. This demonstrates that he is prejudiced and far from unbiased in determining outcomes that can affect a farming family’s future, and, by extension, it calls into question the integrity of the hearing(s) overall.
Sandra Craig, Kelowna