Letter: Community plan ‘hijacked by city staff’

Public hearing was an deceitful experience where council ignored their public due diligence responsibility.

To the editor:

I attended the public hearing of Kelowna city council on Oct. 7, 2014 to witness the long-awaited rezoning of 12 waterfront lots at the foot of Cedar Ave from residential to park zones.

It was an deceitful experience where council ignored their public due diligence responsibility.   Here’s what they did.

Back in January 20, 2014 council approved a Charrette to be held to bring forward a conceptual plan for Cedar Ave. Park.   A Charrette is a planning exercise involving community stakeholders.  Successful Charrettes start with a blank sheet of paper and allow stakeholders to kick around ideas for a park and thrash out problems regarding how a park will be developed and financed over time.

Despite this knowledge of how successful Charrettes are supposed to work, council stipulated two parameters into the Charrette process on January 20, 2014 that biased and doomed it to failure.  First, a Paddle Club had to be included in the park design concept.   Second, council specified that the park development plan should not impact taxpayers.

When the Charrette was over, the City also refused to include community stakeholders in the detailed plan for the park.   This allowed the concept plan developed by the community to become hijacked by City staff, who then created a detailed plan that they wanted and that was differed significantly from the Charrette concept plan.   They simply gnored public stakeholders wishes.

For instance, on September 29, 2014 council approved a new 9-year lease for the Paddle Club, which gave the Club 4 lots, or 27.3% of the available parkland.   This lease moved the Club from the south end of the park site to the north end and will result in the eviction of tenants who pay the City about $25,000 per year in rent.   Over 9-years, taxpayers will loose more than $250,000 in revenue from these tenants.   The Paddle Club will only pay the City $5,000 over the 9-year lease term.

Despite council’s demand that this park plan not impact taxpayers, the new lease for the Paddle Club will cost taxpayers almost $250,000 during the next 9-years.  What really sucks is that the City has no cost recover plan in place.

council made a bad decision when it mandated a Paddle Club into the park.   It compounded the problem when it signed a new lease for the Paddle Club without considering how much it would cost taxpayers.   Even more importantly, taxpayers will lose 30 per cent of the parkland and the best beach in the park.

Write council and tell them their unanimous decision to approve the Paddle Club lease sucks and needs to be terminated.

You may also want to tell them that you won’t vote for them in the November civic election because they just don’t care about taxpayers.

Richard Drinnan,

Kelowna