Letter: West Kelowna council must take a step back

Re: West Kelowna Referendum – Saturday, September 17, 2016 – a recap

To the editor:

This writer is terribly disappointed in our city council. There have been many questions pertaining to the proposed city hall that have either never been answered or, in one form or the other, sidestepped by the mayor and council. The city has not been transparent, has been misleading on many issues, and is failing to listen to the individual taxpayer that provides the city with 85 per cent of all taxation. I offer the following recap;

1) The city ignored 4,000 citizens who voted no [in a alternative approval process] to their proposed borrowing of $10.5 million. They failed to reconsider their proposal and pushed on to get what they want. In fact, the city is somewhat  running the proponent side campaign and in some cases are using taxpayer funds and city staff to coordinate with the proponent side.

2) The water issue has been researched and planned by the consultants the city hired. For the most part the council has known about the issue since 2011. A recent update report to council has shown that the city could have been building the Rose Valley filtration plant now in 2016 but decided to leave it to 2022. Why? This should have been a priority. Perhaps the council though their city hall was the priority rather than 11,000 citizens drinking and bathing unclean water.

3) The reserves are not at “minimum” levels as per the council’s own bylaw and are in fact 40 per cent short of minimum. Yet the council want to take more of these taxpayer funds to build their city hall and, while being asked on many occasions, have sidestepped the question: Are they going to pay these funds back with interest?

4) The location has always been in question. This is not a civic centre growth location. Yet the council has chosen to build a city hall on this small property that is surrounded by residential and ALR land. There is no room to expand should the population grow and the mayor has stated “land is the most expensive way we can spend money as a council” (May 24/16 council meeting). Then why are we buying developer land when we have 11 acres of city-owned land available.

5) The process has not been fully transparent. Details of the entire project have never been released. Details such as; parking layout, and if the city is going to contract out additional parking, public plaza layout if it can meet the mayor’s intent of having farmers markets at this location, office layout and floor plans, and why has the lease space continually changed. The council appears to not know the details yet they are spending taxpayer’s money on this large capital expense of approximately $19 million.

In closing, I truly believe that council should make the Lakeview irrigation water issue the most important priority rather than this city hall. Voting no in this referendum will force the council to take a step back and start listening to the 85 per cent of individual taxpayers, build our reserves to minimum levels, and once the water issue is managed, perhaps then the city could build their city hall in a true civic centre growth location on city-owned land.

Charles Edward, West Kelowna