When push came to shove, Penticton city council decided to back the Wine Information Centre’s request for compensation.
|Mayor Andrew Jakubeit (left) and Penticton MLA Dan Ashton hold the ribbon as Rod King, chairman of the BC Wine Information Society and store manager Laura Kowalchuk officially opened the new British Columbia Information Centre last May. (Mark Brett/Western News)|
Peter Weeber, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the letter of understanding signed in December 2015, wasn’t as clear as it should be.
“This agreement is weak and we don’t give out $60,000 on handshakes and winks,” said Weeber. “It is a good message to all community groups. No matter how co-operative you are, if you sign an agreement, you should be protecting your own interests.”
The lack of specifics in the LOU, which was signed by former CAO Eric Sorenson, was also commented on by some of the councillors.
“I’m going to suggest that this isn’t going to go in the contract hall of fame. This is all over the map,” said Coun. Campbell Watt. “The wine centre went out of their way to accommodate by letting us break the lease.”
The letter of understanding sets out a total of $80,000 to help the Wine Info Centre relocate after they gave up the last 10 years on their lease to allow the new Gateway casino to be built at their former location. But next to the clause setting out $75,0000 for moving-related costs is a handwritten note stating “this amount can be increased to meet needs as costs are finalized assuming structure/design is deemed reasonable.”
With a $49,000 invoice already paid out, the Wine Info Centre was seeking full payment of a second invoice for $101,000, which the city has agreed to pay $41,000. Gateway has agreed to pay for a $7,000 stained glass window, leaving about $52,000 outstanding.
Coun. Judy Sentes was passionate in her argument that the city should pony up, considering the vagueness of the LOU and the Wine Information Society has co-operated when the city asked to break their lease.
“I think they were conscientious, they kept their cost reasonable,” said Sentes. “I don’t want to see us nitpick over you should have done this or that. My interpretation is that we asked for co-operation, we got co-operation. We have a facility, that whole complex there to be proud of, so let’s not mar it with nickel and diming.”
Council voted unanimously to pay the remaining $52,000.