To the editor:
This letter is in response to a letter on the Kelowna Capital News website, Sept. 6, 2016, from Mr. Broc Braconnier, titled YES Campaign Manager Vents Frustration with NO Side, Media. [and in the paper Sept. 9 edition.]
In his opening statement, Mr. Braconnier sounds like a Donald Trump complaining about the media. Mr. Braconnier is not only the campaign manager for the YES side, he was formerly the financial agent for and headed up West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater’s re-election campaign. Mayor Findlater definitely wants his new city hall and his friend and associate, Mr. Braconnier, will try to make it happen.
Good on you Mr. Braconnier; your efforts, I am sure, will be appreciated but please stop saying the NO side is not telling the truth. It is very plain for anyone to see that it is just a difference of democratic opinion.
There have been statements from the city that says the city does not have land available. when the YouTube “Watchdog on Alternate West Kelowna City Hall Locations” has provided at least five locations that are better than their current location and all of the options give them more land at less cost to the taxpayers.
What is it about 3641 Elliot Rd. that is so important to these guys? It is a small piece of residential property, across from ALR, that does not allow the city to expand. It would appear that the building is already almost too small for the city staff as only 3,500 sq ft of a 32,215-sq-ft building is for lease. Not much room for growth.
The 2.6 per cent interest rate, Mr. Braconnier mentions, is a good rate. So why is the city not looking in to refinancing all of their many 4.5 per cent to 4.9 per cent loans? The 2.6 per cent is only good now. The city will not be borrowing any Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) money until they go through our Reserves and use them up. Sometime around the end of 2017 or early 2018, the city will then need to borrow the MFA money for the construction. What will the rates be at that time?
Also, the MFA only loans money for 20-year loans with a renegotiated rate at years 10 and 15, so the city is misleading everyone by saying they have a 20-year loan at 2.6 per cent.
Mr. Braconnier questions how the [proposed] city hall can be built for less? Again, look at the Watchdog videos on YouTube. It is really simple. The NO side has never said not to build a city hall. They just want the taxpayer-funded city hall to be built with respect for the taxpayers’ money. Building on city owned land will save at least $655,000, provide better access, larger properties, consolidation of our city operations departments, and better expansion for our city hall growth.
It would appear that the best location is the 11 acres of vacant land that the city owns. All of the city hall and departments could move to this one location and be consolidated yet still have over eight acres to expand, build a future court house, library, true civic centre, sports faculties, and possibly office rental accommodations that can generate revenue for the taxpayers.
When Mr. Braconnier asks about the city figures being wrong pertaining to the proposed city hall, I have never seen any report on the cost of the building being wrong. All the opponent side has said is there are ways to save taxpayer money by moving to alternate locations. Even Coun. [Rusty] Ensign found ways to save money by trying to eliminate the city’s proposed staff exercise facility that was planned for the new city hall. There are many ways to save the taxpayer money on this proposal if you take the time to listen and reconsider.
Mr. Braconnier asks where the city centre location should be if their proposed site is not the centre. It is simple. If you want Westbank to be the centre it is next to the RCMP building on city-owned land across from the Cenotaph. If you want a bird’s eye view of the centre of West Kelowna where there is available city-owned land, it is the 11 acres on Bartley Road.
Mr. Braconnier also asked a very simple question for identification of city-owned property that can accommodate a city hall with parking. Simply, any of the sites proposed on the Watchdog video is better than the site they are planning. The site they have chosen only has approximately 200 parking spots. The city staff alone take up 75, Interior Health staff take up 55, Interior Health clients use 88 per day, the residential buildings each have one parking spot taking up 69, (are you counting – that’s already 287 parking spots) then there is the remaining floors of the office tower, the lease space in the city hall, and the restaurant planned for the plaza. There is no parking available at this site for anyone to visit the city hall or restaurant or residents without leasing more parking somewhere else for staff which means more cost to taxpayers.
Finally, Mr. Braconnier asks the NO side to be honest and state the facts. From my point of view, the only true facts we, the public, are getting is from the NO side. The NO side has nothing to gain but less cost to the taxpayer, while the YES side is backed by realtors, leasing agents, developers, politicians and similar.
No Mr. Braconier, I, for one, believe what the NO side is saying. The city should stop and reconsider its approach, their taxpayer-funded costing, and an alternate location that will save taxpayers money.
D. Frederick, West Kelowna