5 letters from the Penticton Herald from August 15 2016
City offered only one place to vote
Sometimes it is just impossible to let something go unchallenged. In this case, it is a statement made in the latest Mayor’s Minute (Herald, Aug. 12) that left me incensed and deeply offended by what I consider to be an extremely callous and “misinformed” comment. The offending words were: “How do you engage the public when only 33 per cent of eligible voters care enough to vote?”
Yes, it may be true that voter turnout during the last civic election was only 33 per cent, but was it really because the people of Penticton don’t care?
Hundreds of letters to the editor and massive protests in front of City Hall say otherwise. I also do not believe that the city has earned the right to complain about voter turnout. If you want people to come out and vote, then make it easy to do so.
The fact is, on the day of the last civic election the City of Penticton offered only one place to vote. In my opinion, this shortsightedness had more to do with the disappointing 33 per cent voter turnout than any other factor. To put things in perspective, Summerland had three voting locations, and Kelowna as many as 15.
I mean, really: just think about it. When the citizens of Penticton are willing to stand in line for an hour or more to vote, or willing to drive by two or three times during the day in order to find parking, they are just about as “engaged” as anyone can get. Protests aside, the message is loud and clear; we bloody well do care.
As for considering letters to the editor as not representing a valid cross-section of city residents, and therefore unworthy of consideration, or even the effort it takes to read them, one should keep in mind that anyone and everyone can express their opinions through this medium. How much more fair, valid, and meaningful, can they possibly be? When someone refuses to consider the words of those who chose to disagree, any effort to improve communication will simply be a complete waste of everyone’s time and money.
Other cities buy, not sell, park land
We are extremely disappointed with current mayor and council in the decisions they make supposedly for the good of the community. Council appears to be out of tune with the citizens of Penticton.
We support efforts to improve the community, support local business, create a positive atmosphere for its citizens and tourists, but not at the cost of parkland.
It is beyond us and we cannot get our minds around the decision to lease out difficult-to-obtain parkland for a waterslide. We are not against a waterslide but not on park land. I have spent a number of years in the service of a major city in B.C. in a senior position. The struggle always was to secure more park land and this was done at a cost to the city (market value property). Yet, here is one of the most desirable cities in B.C. — if not the country — and council arbitrarily decides to lease out parkland along the lake without consultation with the taxpayers!
Do the right thing, stand up and admit your error and reverse council’s motions.
While I am writing, reconsider the parking meters initiative. Study the demographics of your citizens and the hardship a parking charge would be to the large percentage of seniors who park at the beach and walk for their enjoyment and exercise.
Council doesn’t deserve praise
Recently a lady (don’t recall her name at the moment, however, if she reads this she’ll know who she is) complained about negative letters to the editor.
Those of us who write letters to be presented in your paper were chastised for brow-beating our poor “hard-working council.” I guess a better term for it would be rebuked.
The inference was that we should be lauding or applauding rather expressing our displeasure with council and what they have done since being elected.
To that particular lady I would stress that those of us who do write do so with the guarantee that it is our democratic right to do so. I cannot speak for the others, however, I resent the fact that along with others I was being admonished as a small child might be for misbehaving.
The moral here is: Lady, if you don’t like to read letters that criticize, maybe you should adopt Coun. Picton’s way of dealing with it. Don’t read them! Go golfing, do some gardening, play bridge, knit, et al.
In order for praise to be given, there has to be something that merits a “pat on the back” so to speak. I challenge you to come up with a list of accomplishments that are deserving of true recognition. At the same time, I would urge you to make a list of things promised to the electorate by council prior to the election but as yet are undelivered and then tell me that council deserves a “pat on the back!”
Here, I’ll help you by starting you off. Accountability (non-existent); fiscal responsibility (voted themselves medical benefits paid for by taxpayers with no consultation; openness (a token joke or what?); an election with one polling station; willing away dedicated parkland for private development and planning to add paid parking at Okanagan Beach and other area city properties. The list goes on. I would surmise that your list would be much shorter!
Can you honestly say with a clear conscience that this is deserving of accolades or applause? I certainly would hope not!
Worst council in their lifetimes
Two years ago my wife and I moved to Penticton and in the fall of that year we had no knowledge of the participants who were running for mayor and council so we did not vote.
But, after the election results we have been keeping a close watch on their performances. Needless to say we haven’t been happy and have become more frustrated. We are both in our late-70s so we have had our share of good and bad government in our lifetime and the present situation with this mayor and his cohorts has got to be the worst we ever experienced.
Have they not heard of the word “democratic?” Since when do civic electorates get to close the doors on voters who elected them wanting answers to the devastating decisions to take away a piece of jewelry that belong to the voters (i.e. Skaha Lake Park). It’s too bad the election time was changed from annually to every four years. At least in those days we could throw the bums out before the damage became irreversible.
P.S.: I think it should be imperative that each council member and mayor be required to read the daily newspaper so as to be informed on what the voters think. If there’s a lot of negativity then maybe they should think about making their decisions right. I’m looking forward to the next election year.
City Hall needs efficiency study
According to the Downtown Penticton Association schedule Slide the City was scheduled to be here Friday and Saturday, July 1 and 2nd. Last I heard they sold 1,300 tickets and closed up shop after one day.
So what happened to all these waterslide supporters? There were lots of tourists here for Canada Day and 33,000 locals; maybe 10,000 kids. Watersliders didn’t show enough support to even keep the waterslide open for the scheduled two days. Yet council continues with its waterslide development plan.
Does this make sense to you?
The city is hiring an engagement officer because not enough people turn out to the city’s show and tell events. According to the mayor 50 to 100 or 200 doesn’t give council an adequate sample of how the public feels about any project. He cited 1,000 people as a useful sample size.
Yet when 1,000 turned up in protest at City Hall against the waterslide project in Skaha Lake Park he signed the agreement with Trio.
Does this make sense to you?
Once when I was requesting information from the corporate officer I was turned over to her assistant to fulfill my request. Yet according to Jake Kimberley the new engagement officer would be a second assistant to the corporate officer. Unless the former assistant has moved on then the engagement officer is the third person assigned to that department. Then we have the communications officer which ostensibly makes four people assigned to fulfill the duties of this department. If each department increased at a ratio of 4 to 1, city payroll would soon number in the tens of thousands.
Does this make sense to you?
As I said before we need an efficiency study at City Hall. An efficiency study would recognize the hard work and efficiency of those whose work goes largely unrecognized. It would also highlight the slackers and those that take advantage of other employees to lighten their load. It would highlight time-consuming make-work projects. An efficiency study is an opportunity to recognize and reward those that deserve it: Recognition of abilities that likely have remained off the radar screen of the CAO. This is what leads to future advancement to those that have proved they have what it takes. It also cuts the fat.
Does this make sense to you?
City is trying, but more can be done
Yes, I know the city is trying to get low-cost housing, mostly for the disabled or those on low incomes (Herald, Aug. 12).
Disability allows you $375 and I think hydro should be included. Food has gone up along with lot of things so if you’re left with $400 for a five-week month, it can be tight. The amount of people that couch-surf or stay a few nights here and there is a lot higher then you might think. It’s not like years ago you could get a place with all included, TV and phone for $295 a month. Either get the rent part of cheques up or work on what we the disabled are allowed. It might cut down on soup kitchen usage. The high hydro bills is what is killing a lot of people.