Penticton should do more than rely on its good looks.
So says Jason Cox, a local businessman and president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, who is aiming to create a comprehensive vision for the city by seeking a council seat this fall.
Cox announced his candidacy Tuesday outside the new addition of Okanagan College, a facility which he said the city could better utilize to attract jobs and industry to the area if more energy was spent on developing a plan for the city’s future.
“I think the whole thing comes down to vision. I don’t think this council, this community has ever engaged in a discussion inclusively about what our vision is supposed to be,” he said. “As a result you’ve seen, over the last two councils, a lot of easy condo developments over campgrounds, over hotels, over properties to be part of the housing boom. When that collapsed, then there was no more income to the city.”
He said the city’s approach on major capital projects like the community centre involved only half the prudent planning it required, seeking outside sources of funding but not drawing up financial plans for the years to come.
“At the end of the day, did anyone sit back and say, ‘How are we going to fund and operate these things?’ Now we have a $200,000 operating deficit facing the city taxpayers in 2012, and I think that all comes from a lack of vision,” he said.
Cox’s term as chamber president expires in November, when the networking body will hold its AGM and elect a new board. He said he understands the issues of business owners in town, who will be critical for any future jobs plan.
“When people think about business in the community, they think of big business. In this community especially, small business is the engineer of our community. These are our neighbours, our friends. When you add those all up, those are our major employers in the city,” he said.
“I’ve had a clear understanding of what happens in the city and I think I know what we can do to improve it.”
Oct. 4 marked the opening of nomination submissions, and to date, seven candidates in Penticton have stepped forward for civic politics. By deadline Tuesday, Katie Robinson was the lone mayoralty candidate.
Two candidates have already publicly declared their intentions to run for council: Jeannie Cavallo is a realtor with Re/Max Front Street Realty, and Helena Konanz is the former Coffee Couch entrepreneur who now works at RBC Bank and as a director of Konanz Chiropractic.
The experience of political neophytes who have filed official nomination packages ranges the gamut: Frank Conci is a part owner of AC Motor Electric Ltd. in Penticton, David Korinetz is the owner of Red Tuque Books Inc. on Martin Street and Terry Yeatman is listed as the owner of Terry’s Pool and Spa Service in Penticton.
The deadline for nominations is 4:30 p.m. on Friday.