An artists's rendition of downtown revitalization.

An artists's rendition of downtown revitalization.

Council identifies budget priorities

Two politicians object to spending $30,000 for communications efforts during downtown makeover

Penticton city councillors John Vassilaki and Helena Konanz found themselves sharing similar concerns Friday about how money is going to be spent on the city’s downtown revitalization plans.

Mixed in with proposals to move the city’s waterfront and downtown revitalization plans forward was a proposed communications budget for the Martin Street-Westminster Avenue portion, where construction is due to begin in early 2014.

Simone Blais, the city’s communications officer, proposed allocating $30,000 for a three-part plan: keeping business owners in the one-block area apprised of the changes and upcoming work being done on the street; keeping the physical space attractive and well marked, and communications with the wider public.

The plan was based on advice from counterparts in Banff and Kelowna, who have both completed similar revitalization projects.

Delivering superior communications, Blais said, would help mitigate construction impacts and convert  stakeholders in the business community into revitalization champions.

“I think we recognize Kelowna has more resources than Penticton, so the question was whether we could scale that model to fit Penticton resources,” said Blais, describing the plan, which includes $20,000 for a business liaison officer. “This was deemed the most critical component to the Kelowna project.”

While Kelowna might have found that critical, Konanz and Vassilaki found it anything but for Penticton.

“It is only one block, it is not as if we are doing a whole street that is a kilometre long,” said Vassilaki.

While $30,000 might not seem a large amount of money, he said, all these small charges add up.

“Very soon you will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we can’t afford to spend. We have to watch our pennies. We are not Kelowna. We are little Penticton that has very little tax base.”

Vassilaki suggested city bylaw officers could be used to distribute information and notices to the businesses, but Konanz suggested that’s the communications officer’s job.

“I don’t think it is wise to spend $30,000 on making people into revitalization champions. I just can’t see the value in that,” she said. “This is one thing that is frivolous and we do not need in the 2014 budget.”

Konanz and Vassilaki were the only two to speak against putting the $30,000 item into the 2014 budget. Others were clear in their support.

“Banff and Kelowna could not stress enough the value of communication. We are not at the same level as some of these other communities, but that shouldn’t negate their advice,” said Coun. Judy Sentes.

“It is an investment, an insurance if you will, into what we are trying to achieve.”

Council voted 5-2 in support of the communications budget.

Konanz also expressed concern about another item on the strategic priorities list, part of the planning budget for the Main Street part of the revitalization plan, which has an overall budget of $565,000, including $45,000 for public engagement, which she felt had been done over the course of the last two years in a variety of ways.

“I think we have a really good idea of what the community wants and I don’t think we need to spend $45,000 on community engagement or use of staff time on trying to engage them,” said Konanz.

 

Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read