Litke will seek third term
Another member of Penticton’s current city council has committed to run again in this fall’s civic election.
Coun. Garry Litke has joined Coun. John Vassilaki and former Coffee Couch entrepreneur Helena Konanz in declaring an intension to run for a spot on the next council.
An English teacher, member of the NDP and former decade-long president of the Okanagan Skaha Teachers’ Union, Litke will be running for a third term on council.
“I will continue with the same kind of voice I have been in the past,” he said. “People like the fact that I listen to and consider their opinions, and that I encourage people to come out to things like public forums.
“I think I have got a reputation for respecting all opinions and valuing them in considering the decision I finally make. And I will continue to do that.”
Litke said there are many unresolved issues he believes he can make a contribution on.
“The Global Spectrum contract (to run) the South Okanagan Events Centre is, in my mind, unfinished business,” he said. “They have a couple years left on their contract that needs to be monitored and adjusted so that it doesn’t create such a burden on Penticton’s taxpayers.
“There needs to be an incentive for Global Spectrum to actually create a profit for the City of Penticton.”
Litke said the SOEC was originally sold to the community as a facility that would help attract more convention business to the city.
“That was the reason I voted for it in the first place,” he said. “We built (the SOEC) to make money and create jobs and that is not happening so it needs to be fixed.”
Litke said, if elected, he would work to help get a new performing arts theatre built in Penticton.
“It hasn’t happened for a variety of reasons and that needs to be addressed in a way that is affordable,” said Litke. “There have been perhaps grant opportunities that have been missed. There have been perhaps private investors that haven’t been approached properly.”
Litke said the city should look at different models of financing.
“It doesn’t have to be a theatre that is paid for by the taxpayer,” he explained. “In Ottawa there is a theatre that was built by a private developer who then put 10 storeys of accommodation-residential condos above the theatre.
“The city gave them the land. He built a theatre for the city and then he got himself 10 floors of condos. That is the kind of model that should be looked at.”
Litke also pledged to continue working with the SS Sicamous Restoration Society to advance the group’s proposal to build a marine park and museum centre; boat launching facilities; and a 104-boat day and night dock at the Sicamous site, starting with a smaller design and then expanding.
The former operator of the Coffee Couch before the Penticton Community Centre shut down last year, Helena Konanz is a political science graduate from UCLA who has lived in the Okanagan for 16 years. She currently works in the banking industry and has volunteered for many groups including the Cancer Society, Roof for a Family, L’Ecole Entre Lacs PAC and the Soupateria. Konanz said she wants to bring a fresh face and new perspective to city council.
“I think the current council has done a really good job,” Konanz said. “It has been a really tough last three years with the economy and they have had to make some really difficult decisions. So I don’t believe that I should be replacing any of them but with a spot opened up when (former councillor and current Okanagan Coquihalla MP) Dan Albas left, I would like to join that great team.”