To the editor:
In the face of a ‘no’ response through the alternative approval process (AAP) and then a ‘no’ in the ensuing referendum, the City of West Kelowna council and staff appear to be looking at ways to obtain the same results the citizens rejected.
On Oct. 6, 2016 council was to receive a report on the options after the referendum. For reasons not given, that report has been deferred to Oct. 25 and is likely being re-drafted in the extra time.
The Oct. 6 public meeting agenda was amended just before the meeting to an “in camera’ meeting (closed to the public) for the following stated reasons:
• “…the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality…”
It has been suggested council is trying to effect through procedural changes what was denied them in the referendum of Sept. 17, 2016. The suggestions are that council is considering:
• purchase of the property from the developer to go ahead with a stand-alone building, adjacent to the developer’s property
• leasing a building from the civic centre developer with options to purchase it in the future, and
• acquisition of more lands in the same area of West Kelowna to build a stand-alone city hall.
This administration has adopted a secretive approach to the Civic Centre project throughout the past two years. It withheld key information on the structured deal made with a developer during the referendum debate. It has used flawed processes to develop apparent civic support and approval, until it hit the electoral referendum that the people responded with a ‘no.’ Thus, all the surveys and public forums staged to ensure a ‘yes’ opinion through consultants and a costly privately-funded expensive YES campaign was for naught.
It is time to be honest and open about the intentions of this council who continue to use ‘consultants’ and ‘staff’ that set the stage to divide the community by proposing tax increases for lower priority projects, while delaying needed infrastructure like potable water.
Yes, we probably need a city hall, but not a Rolls Royce or Taj Mahal; lets’ become open and honest, and do what is best for our city, not what’s best for friends with influence.
Penticton citizens have started a recall petition for municipal elected councils and, in light of our ongoing experience and the experience in Kelowna of leasing large beach frontage to a small special interest group, perhaps the time is now to have that recall provision.
As the city ads to sell us a civic centre said: “Why Now?” because the politician’s and staff no longer respond to citizens needs and priorities.
Doug Waines, West Kelowna