West Kelowna city hall referendum opens Interior Health issues

[The City of West Kelowna] state that IHA will not move to this site if the city hall is not built. Is this a form of threat or bribery…?

To the editor:

As most West Kelowna citizens know, Interior Health Authority (IHA) operates an office/facility on Carrington Road, West Kelowna and that their lease is running out. IHA elected to take a long shot and partner with the developer of the proposed West Kelowna city hall currently the subject of a referendum. If the city hall goes ahead, IHA will not have any offices and improved service capabilities until approximately 2019 when the developer’s office building is most likely scheduled to be completed.

Is it smart for IHA to delay the ‘improved’ services to IHA clients for another three years or is it smarter to either build their own facility on their own land now and save the leasing costs for the next 20 years. Or, perhaps, even lease space on our own WFN land which has several large areas for lease. It has always been stated that IHA is there for our WFN resident people as well as others so what is their problem with working with the WFN? They could probably move in and commence improved services now rather than wait three years.

Interior Health paid over $3.25 million to the former Kelowna mayor Walter Gray and his business partners for their 8.2 acres of property at the corner of Brown and Bering Roads (a former orchard) in West Kelowna. After a lengthy battle with the Agricultural Land Commission, Interior Health was granted approval to utilize 1.62 hectares of the 2.7 hectare site at Bering and Elliott roads for the proposed health centre. IHA decided to walk away. So did we waste $3.2 million of taxpayer money? Is this an example of “One of this government’s core values is respect for the taxpayer’s dollar” as was stated in the government’s taxpayer accountability principles?

On December 14, 2015, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater was joined by Bryan Redford, community services administrator with the Interior Health Authority in announcing Interior Health’s involvement in the West Kelowna Civic Centre Project. It was stated that because the city hall was being constructed here that IHA wanted their offices located here and have a preliminary agreement with the developer. Yet in the city’s information package they state that the IHA will not move to this site if the city hall is not built. Is this a form of threat or bribery that both taxpayer-funded organizations are using so the developer can get the approvals necessary to build his city hall and office building?

There was also an article in the paper that states the IHA land, purchased at $3.2 million, was only assessed at $477,000 and that IHA is only paying $2,500 per year in property taxes. Did IHA pay too much for the land and waste our taxpayer dollars or is the City of West Kelowna giving IHA a deal by only charging them $2,500 for property tax on eight acres, half of which was removed from the ALR. Is it back to ALR in full? Are they ever going to get value out of this? Why is the city giving a break to IHA ?

After the article (mentioned above) came out in the paper, IHA posted an article looking to receive request for proposals to lease their 8.2 of acres in West Kelowna. It appears to be a late reaction to looking after our taxes and perhaps a way to appease the public when they do a 20-year lease with the developer because their land will be tied up in a lease.

In any event, if the city does not get approval for this funding that will be given to the developer to build the city hall, it will mean the city will finally have to reconsider what they are doing, go and build on city-owned land to save taxpayers money and maybe, just maybe, they can add on a couple of floors that IHA could lease and pay that lease payment to the taxpayers instead of a developer.

I will end with a laugh the YES side provided me with recently. One of their political lobbyists stated that he wanted us to insure that we tell the truth. Some politicians do have a sense of humour after all, you have to love it, hard to imagine them saying that about us.

Please vote and vote no.

B. Anstead, West Kelowna

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