Comments from city council directed to the Downtown Penticton Association about turning civic events back to the municipality are not “sitting so well,” but the DPA wants to move forward.
“What we want is some civil discourse and that if they are going to move this forward, we are perfectly happy to help them with that process. Some of the outrageous remarks they are making needs to stop and they need to come to us and say ‘hey, let’s put this back on course,’” said Steve Brown, DPA board member at large. “Running around and everyone snapping at one another and making outlandish remarks isn’t moving this forward. Ultimately, as a community, we need to move this forward.”
The DPA held a press conference April 8 to discuss concerns about the “misleading” comments made by Couns. Jake Kimberley and Katie Robinson, alleging that there was no advance notice to the city the association was going to stop using their own funds to sponsor civic events such as Canada Day and B.C. Day.
“We spent half a million dollars of DPA money putting these events on, all we have taken for the last several weeks is abuse. Not a thank you for doing that, not a thank you for taking care of this for the past number of years,” said Brown, who said he also wouldn’t mind an apology from the councillors who criticized them in a regular council meeting last week either.
Robinson stands by her statements about the DPA not giving enough forewarning of dropping the civic events. The Western News contacted Coun. Kimberley, but he declined to comment further on the matter.
“I’m not sure how it went off the rails that badly. They are perfectly within their rights step back, just a little more warning would have been useful. I wasn’t trying to take pot shots at them or go after them,” said Robinson.
Lynn Allin, executive director for the DPA, said they had attended four meetings with the city about funding civic events and stepping away as hosts, the first of which was with former CAO Peter Weeber and the council liaison Judy Sentes in November 2018, prior to the city budget being finalized. She said the board asked, but could not get a meeting with council to discuss why they were not going to host the events anymore and the steps they could take moving forward. Allin said three more meetings with city staff leading up to the delegation presentation in early March.
It was first announced the DPA wanted to share the burden of the costs of the events and enter into a partnership with the city. The DPA said even with some funding from the city grants they faced costs of $111,555. A week later, the city announced they would take over the events completely after the DPA changed position following the delegation being in front of council. Allin said they were asked for a further breakdown of costs and other details, at that point the board decided that the city had the staff that could take over the event with their help in the transition.
Allin explained the mandate of the DPA is not to host events, but starting in 2008, the association decided to take over events that were once run by community members and service groups. The re-examination of their mandate led to the decision by the board to focus back on their membership, which is less than 25 per cent retail stores. The board said they have doctors, lawyers, accountants, funeral homes and all sorts of businesses that do not receive any benefit from the events that are held when the downtown is “virtually closed.”
Allin said that is the main reason the board wants to untangle DPA funds, which come through an annual levy paid by 325 downtown property owners, from the delivery of the civic events. The board will continue to carry one one fundraising event, the Saturday community market.
“Our association members supply our funding, not the city, and the board of directors has a fiduciary duty to those members to advance our mandate with the limited funds,” said Allin, who added they are strategizing new events that will benefit all their members.
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