Letter: Surreptitious dealings in West Kelowna

Were [West Kelowna candidates] concerned that contentious debate about the new town hall might threaten their re-election?

West Kelowna residents were certainly mislead by the previous Council about their backroom dealings for a new city hall. Throughout the election, voters were told that no deal had yet been done and there was plenty of time for public input. In an interview on Dec. 2nd with the Westside Weekly, Findlater said, ““One of the hot topics during the campaign was the location of a new city hall or civic centre, and if it ought to be built at all. . . . If council accepts the staff recommendation the concept will go out for extensive public consultation. We may change our minds after we hear the report.”

Before the ink is dry on their formal inauguration to Council, it is plain that Findlater and his complicit councillors mislead the public on what they intended to do, and what council now has done. During the recent municipal election, Findlater and council incumbents refused to discuss the “city centre project’ (their promotional phrase for “new municipal office space”, saying that it was not sufficiently advanced to be brought to the electorate. In fact Findlater and the 2013 council, which includes councillors Zanon, Winsby, Opus, and De Jong, along with 2 former councillors who were not returned to office, have already finalized a deal for a new town hall on Elliott Rd. This deal can only be stopped by the public referendum they are forced to hold under the B.C. Municipal Act when they borrow money – millions of it – for this palace for politicians. Only new councillors Neis and Ensign were not part of this deception.

Why did Findlater and his followers believe this deception was necessary? Were they concerned that contentious debate about the new town hall might threaten their re-election? Findlater acknowledged in his Westside Weekly interview that there was definitely some skepticism about the rationale for borrowing several millions of dollars so that West Kelowna staff and council could have shiny new offices at rents that private businesses cannot afford to pay. Does Findlater consider an “after the fact” referendum to be “extensive public consultation”? Why else did Findlater and incumbent councillors keep these back room dealings secret? It appears that having new offices is worth being elected under misleading pretenses.

It may be the only way to have a real debate over a new town hall is to force council to hold a public referendum. Perhaps voters would even be treated to a full disclosure of the consulting reports that council has refused to share with the public. Of course, under the Municipal Act, Findlater could dodge the referendum by using the Alternative Process. Under this process, the new building deal would go ahead unless at least 10% of the public petitioned to force a referendum on borrowing the money for the project. But the ever-cagey Findlater is betting that public apathy will work in his favour on this one.

But wouldn’t it be sweet justice to see Findlater’s deceit turned into Findlater’s Folly? There are many more urgent capital projects in West Kelowna than new municipal offices – a reliable power grid, urgently needed water system upgrades, several hundred kilometers of open drainage ditches, street lights & sidewalks, poor traffic flow, just to name a few. And the public may not be too pleased that the municipal government chooses to spend taxpayer dollars on office space that is 25 to 30% higher than market rent in Westbank.

Did Findlater and followers pull one over on the electorate? The only way the public will get its say is to insist on a referendum. Sadly, it cannot look to Findlater and followers for due process and full disclosure.

Mike Budd,

West Kelowna


Kelowna Capital News

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned for Kelowna

Clinic at Kelowna Secondary School from June 22 to 24 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read