Letter: Concerned with lack of response from West Kelowna candidates

The Audience Group is made up of 71 dedicated voter households

An open letter to all our contacts:

Re: Candidate response to our questions.

The Audience Group is made up of 71 dedicated voter households (more than 150 people) ranging the span of West Kelowna who are citizens concerned with how our municipal government is spending our hard earned, and in some cases, limited tax and user fee dollars. We are a private group dedicated to keeping each other informed by direct email only and chose not to promote or denounce issues unless the issue is vetted by members in our group who have the ability to assess the topic.

We have provided our city council with what we thought was helpful advice in many circumstances.

One such contribution was the need for a new city hall. We reviewed the issues, read all the articles, followed what both sides were saying, and delivered a 30-page contribution pertaining to moving all of our municipal departments with a new city hall and potential civic centre to one location, the Bartley and Stevens municipally owned 11.4 acres.

We made a contribution pertaining to the Phase Two Wine Trail where one of our members even delivered a concept drawing to show how it could be constructed at a much lesser cost than the $9.2 million it is now going to cost.

Another one of our members offered a suggestion on water rates for our city pointing out that there are many non-food producing agricultural properties receiving an 80 per cent discount on their water cost at the expense of the residential properties. That proposal was not intending to penalize food producers but to eliminate such rates given to commercial farms such as horse, flower, shrub, mini-mansions, Christmas tree, and others that are given this rate because they record a small amount of revenue as agricultural. In the meantime with our water rates set to triple, the residents are subsidizing this group by approximately $1.5 to $3 million per year which could go towards paying off the $17 million debt we, the city, have to borrow over and above the federal and provincial government grant. We are currently assessing the progress of the filtration plant that, by grant approval agreement, was supposed to be finished by April 2019 which now will not be finished, in our opinion late in 2020 / 2021 and will force us to borrow much more than the $17 million budgeted.

We have tried to help, and yes some of our members get a little carried away with their sarcasm when writing individual letters pertaining to wasted spending, however, we have tried to offer suggestions rather than criticism but such suggestions fall on deaf ears.

During the 2014 election, our group sent in many individual questions that went unanswered by the candidates. For the 2018 election our group sent each candidate, one 28 question document pertaining to all areas of West Kelowna. We did this for two reasons:

1. From the city webcasts, we wanted to have the new candidates become aware of issues brought before council in the last year to enable them to see where the citizens are concerned.

2. To hopefully receive answers to all or some of the questions to provide our members and their own personal contacts information on how each candidate is thinking on each issue in an attempt to see if the candidates are concerned about the individual citizen or just the special interest groups, business people, and developers alone.

We are very sad to report that, with the exception of two candidates, all of the other candidates did not respond to the questions that were taken from webcast presentations recording the official council meetings. Most of the current council just did not respond at all. We presume because one in our group posted a letter pertaining to telephone poles which is embarrassing to them.

Now we are a little concerned about some of the new candidates as they wanted to know if we were a large group or a small group, age of members, how many members in each neighbourhood and what are our demographics, incomes etc. They did not want to bother with us until they knew if our group was worth the trouble. We also received the same wording in emails from candidates indicating there is a group of candidates working together. These are our candidates. These are the candidates that say they are concerned about the individual citizen in public but really don’t care unless you are part of a major group that can help them get elected or help them in the next phase of their own lives. We are sure the candidates are busy with this short election period but it is disgusting that they are only concerned with major groups, special interest groups, business groups, and developer groups.

The two candidates that did answer were Coun. Rosalind Neis and candidate Joe Gluska so at least we have two responsible candidates for whom to vote.

Good luck West Kelowna, we are going to be taxed a great deal more than 3 per cent and the water rates are going to increase much more than you have been told due to delays and under-budgeted costs for the filtration plant. Choose wisely, this election is very important for our pockets and our city.

R. Jackson, administrator

The Audience Group

West Kelowna

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