City of Penticton gears up for second phase of engagement plan

Community engagement consultant JoAnne Kleb said she’s ready for phase two of her engagement plan

Planning for how to deal with Penticton’s infrastructure deficit is going to take up a lot of city council and staff time in coming months.

Community engagement consultant JoAnne Kleb said she’s ready for phase two of her engagement plan, to involve citizens in reviewing the options to address the funding gap.

“We have completed the awareness phase and are starting now to get into a more involved conversation about the ideas people are suggesting and how we should proceed,” said Kleb.

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Some of the key questions she has been asking are about the city’s infrastructure problem, which she said the majority of people responding to her survey said they were very concerned about.

“We also took the opportunity to test people’s threshold for tax increases vs. service reductions,” said Kleb.  The majority of the people responding to the survey, she said were in favour of increasing taxes to maintain service levels. Only 15 per cent said they would rather see service reductions instead of a tax increase.

One focus is on the future of the aging Memorial Arena, which needs an estimated $13.5 million in upgrades and repairs.

“One of the most talked about areas was Memorial Arena and ice surfaces in town. People had a variety of good ideas on how we could stickhandle the Memorial Arena situation,” said Kleb, listing ideas like funding Memorial Arena through donations, replacing it or eliminating McLaren Arena instead.

“There was quite a range of different ideas that surfaced,” said Kleb.

But because there are such diverse opinions on what to do with the arena, from repairing it to demolishing it, Kleb says a more in depth and customized engagement approach is being considered for Memorial that will fully explore the pros and cons of the alternatives including the heritage, fiscal value, costs and consequences.