The Downtown Penticton Association has some critics on Penticton city council following the decision to cease hosting its annual civic events and putting it back to council.
“This has been certainly downloaded onto us in short notice, and after the budget process. And to me it’s really sad to hear that DPA put this to us because personally, I think they’ve damaged their public relations and such in doing so,” said Coun. Jake Kimberley during the council meeting on April 2. “Because all of a sudden we have to organize these events. We can’t do without these events. I will support the motion to approve this but I am really saddened that the DPA doesn’t recognize they’re damaging their public relations. And when every effort is made to encourage economy in the downtown core.”
The DPA recently approached council with the intent to partner with the city in organizing and funding its annual civic events. Until now, the DPA was responsible for Penticton’s B.C. Day celebrations, Canada Day celebrations, Rock the Sun music in the summer and the Santa Claus Parade.
On March 19 at the regular council meeting, council voted to take over hosting the events entirely when it was announced prior to the meeting that the DPA would be stepping down as organizer. The decision resulted in the city allocating $32,800 out of the grants program for 2019 to fund the events, money that would have been previously directed to the DPA as the city’s contribution.
Kimberley said he was also upset because it came without forewarning and that the DPA made the decision after the city budget had been decided upon.
Council also voted to increase the city’s sport and event budget by $38,465 with funds to be found through administrative savings. While the vote came out in favour of funding all of the events as is, multiple councillors were upset that the decision was put upon them in the first place.
Coun. Katie Robinson suggested cutting the Rock the Sun portion of the budget, and thus not having the event this year, in order to be “fiscally responsible.” She wanted to provide some consequence for their actions and was concerned about the precedent it sets should other festivals or events decide to cancel
“I think there should be some pain involved when decisions like this are made. I have a fundamental problem with picking this up and running with it because there will be absolutely no consequences to the actions that were taken by this and I think that’s wrong,” said Robinson.
Coun. Campbell Watt clarified that civic events such as Canada Day and B.C. Day are the city’s responsibility to host for its residents and that festivals like Fest of Ale serve a different purpose. He also wondered why council was still dwelling on the DPA’s decision when he said they needed to move on.
“Regardless of how it happened or why, I’m reluctant to point fingers at people. Everyone has reasons for what they do. I don’t like to hear language about somebody has to suffer the consequences of a decision, because those that suffer would be our community and I can’t buy into that,” said Coun. Judy Sentes.
The Western News approached Lynn Allin, executive director of the DPA and board president Ryan Graham for a response. They declined to comment until they have spoken to their board.
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