Letter: Safety before city hall in West Kelowna

Who is paying for the YES vote campaign in West Kelowna?

To the editor:

I received a mail-out the other day. On it was information about where and when to vote on the referendum to borrow money for a new city hall.

I flipped the card over and there I found propaganda about why I should vote yes in the referendum. But there was no information about what a NO vote would look like for the City of West Kelowna.

Why not? That got me thinking about who is funding this mail-out? Who if funding all the Yes vote signs? Who is funding the Yes campaign office next to the library?

It appears that city council of West Kelowna has authorized a budget of up to $25,000 of taxpayer money to pay for the Yes campaign.

That is my understanding, so would someone please confirm that.

In my opinion then, our political leaders in West Kelowna are using our own money to try to convince us that we need a new city hall.

They say, in their mail-out, that there is no additional tax increase and the cost burden and risk will be reduced. What they failed to mention was that they want to borrow $7.7 million and then repay this debt using taxpayer money over 20 years. They failed to mention that the cost of borrowing the $7.7 million will be $1.75 million.

I had to hunt for that number on the city’s web site.

So, by voting yes, the taxpayer of West Kelowna is actually voting yes to $9.45 million and not the $7.7 million that the YES campaign alleges. In the flyer, I am told that no projects in the existing 10-year Capital Plan will be affected. This tells me that there is no flexibility in this plan either.

So that means, folks, will just have to wait for improvements to the safety and quality of life that they should be getting now.

What about new projects that will arise in the future? That extra $1.75 million, we will be forced to pay in interest charges, could go a long way to help with better roads, sidewalks, bike lanes and water treatment. These are things we need now not a few years from now.

Silly me, I thought that we elected people to represent us and to work on our behalf to provide for our needs as a society. Such needs are those that are required now that will make our lives better and safer.

We don’t need a new city hall. It will not make our lives better or safer. A new city hall is a lovely concept but we do not need it.

Apparently our Mayor and Council and some developers and businessmen want it. And they want the taxpayer to pay for it.

For those who argue that the current city hall is getting overcrowded then perhaps you can go support our local school district. You can go support all those students and teachers who are forced to start up the new school year in portables. And perhaps you can accompany these same students as they must go from their portables to the main building, across open outside areas in rain and snow just so they can use the washrooms, use the library or use the gymnasium. They would like to get their own classrooms in the main building but that is not going to happen for awhile, and neither should the new city hall.

Are the interests of the citizens of West Kelowna being best served, by borrowing $7.7 million, and then having to pay $1.75 million in interest charges for a building that most of us will probably never use? I don’t think so.

I would rather drive on safer roads and drink safer water.

Lorne Brown, West Kelowna