Letter: Tourism staff don’t need fancy offices

Just because other cities might be [building big new tourist centres] does not make it right for Kelowna.

To the editor:

I read with interest the comments made by Tourism CEO Nancy Cameron [Downtown Tourism Centre Unveiled, March 25 Kelowna Capital News], where, it appears, she wants the tax payers of Kelowna to buy her, and her employees a nice new luxury office on the lake. Cameron quite nicely tries to convince us why this Centre should be on the lake with a multitude of ridiculous reasons such as lowering crime as was mentioned awhile back. Or, keeping visitors here longer then they want to because there is a nice office on the lake. Or, here’s a good one, let’s take away more precious water front property and spend $4 million + on an info centre so we can tell people we have a kangaroo farm.

Come on, get with the real world. I am guessing well over 75 per cent of the tax paying public here in Kelowna do not want your office on the lake. Many residents have already made their feelings  known. They are sick and tired of the way our tax dollars are being spent.

Cameron state the increased RV traffic downtown would be minimal since the current centre services only a modest clientele. Well, clientele has been decreasing over the past several years for a reason. Travellers don’t need a big expensive travel centres anymore. Most everyone has a GPS in their vehicles and have made their plans long before arriving at their destination. Further, most everyone has a smart phone, which, it seems to me, to be by far smarter than the people that are trying to ram this tourist centre down our throats. Smart phones, tablets and computers are all portable and have the ability to be on line anywhere to get up to the minute information that is far more accurate than any information they could picked up at this proposed centre.

I do have a couple of suggestions for Tourism Kelowna: The city of Kelowna owns a large parking lot on the north side of City Hall which would be more than adequate to build on. It is downtown, it is next to City Hall, it does not take away from public parking, which is sadly lacking, it is visible from the lakefront walkway, and it would not block any lake front views. The list is endless. Now, of course the down side to this is no luxury office on the lake.

The second suggestion, and the most economical, would be a small kiosk on the boardwalk, possibly by the Grand Hotel or the new Yacht Club, however, the best location for the kiosk would be next to Kelowna’s $800,000 outhouse [City Park public washrooms]. Just imagine the increase in clientele visiting Kelowna to look at our outhouse, The only million dollar outhouse in Canada. While visiting your kiosk, they could be watching each other through the see-through outhouse walls. I can see it now. The opportunities would be endless.

Let’s face it. The day of the large fancy travel information centre is gone. Don’t be telling people as has been done in the past, that other cities are building big new centres in their downtown. Who cares what other cities are doing? Just because other cities might be doing it does not make it right for Kelowna. This is Kelowna. The taxpayers do not want to spend $4 million + on a useless building that few people will use. Travellers that come here don’t need your expensive building. They know what and where they are going to go and for how long they will stay here.

This mayor and council remind me very much of a Barnum and Bailey three ring circus. If they had their collective brains together, they would put together a list of major projects that affect the taxpayers of Kelowna  and introduce a referendum once every year or once every two years. This could be done simply by voting on line and having your voting results go directly to an independent consultant in real time. This independent consultant/auditor would of course be in another city. As it stands now, it seems as though these sneaky reverse voting scenarios are in place where by you, the taxpayer, are forced to go to city hall to vote. Of course, aside from that inconvenience, you would have to pay the new parking rate that [Kelowna Mayor Colin] Basran and the boys have decreed we taxpayers will now have to pay.

So fellow Kelownians, let the clowns at city hall know we do not want large expensive reckless expenditures such as we have seen in the past couple of years.

Ian MacLean, Kelowna