Penticton council candidates answer the questions

Five people are running for council in the Sept. 7 by-election. We asked them a few questions:

  • Aug. 22, 2013 6:00 a.m.

What steps can Penticton city council take to ensure the proposed expansion for Penticton Regional Hospital gets approved and moves ahead as quickly as possible?


Kevin Andrews

First of all, I feel that things are moving ahead, (but nothing is ever fast enough when it comes to people’s health).

I have worked for Interior Health for a long time and spent more than 10 years working at Penticton Regional Hospital. They care about the people of this community and so do I.

I also believe every person in this community cares about the hospital expansion but projects of this magnitude and expense take time. Penticton City Council is only as strong as its members. Council needs to be vigilant and persistent regarding this project.

We have a local MP and MLA and we need to keep constant verbal and written pressure on both of these levels of government to ensure this project does not take a back seat to anything. We need to offer our assistance (as the public and a local government) in any way possible to show how dedicated we are to this proposed expansion.

No one person or agency can do this alone. Keep involved in budget talks, see what monies are needed, offer solutions where possible and elect me to city council so you can have a very strong voice working for you.

 

 

Patrick J. Buchanan

The hospital expansion is probably one of the most important issues, not just for Penticton, but for all the South Okanagan. This is long over due. Our MLA has to be fully involved with this project too. We need not just council pushing for the expansion but all the citizens of Penticton and the South Okanagan.

Lynn Kelsey

 

 

Although the health minister assured us that things are under way, the council needs to continue to lobby our MLA, Dan Ashton, and the minister and the premier for updates as to where we are in the process.

The process has begun with the awarding of the tender for the business case.

Council should seek specifics (dates, times, responsible party, etc.) from the provincial government at least quarterly.

Dr. Paisley and the citizens group that so admirably spearheaded bringing this issue to the forefront during the provincial election need the council’s continued support to keep the pressure on the government so that they keep their promises to the citizens of Penticton and the South Okanagan.

Dr. Paisley assured a friend of mine that all our representatives have told him they will continue to make this project a priority. I feel that the government should put it in writing that we will not be bumped by any other capital health project.

Andre Martin

This project will move ahead and is incumbent on us to work with the steering committee, IHA, Treasury and RDOS to readily answer any questions the business case needs. We need to work with them.

This is a long-term project for the region and let’s do it right. Adding to the health industry of the region, possibly research facilities specializing in Alzheimer’s, diabetes or sport recovery could be part of the mix.

Proving we are working to maximize this investment will help the business case and excite the Province to work as quickly as possible.

Katie Robinson

Get the commitment in writing. Without a budget and funding in place nothing gets built.

Ongoing and relentless lobbying at all level of governments is needed, especially lobbying at UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities) specifically the health minister and staff is crucial (every September) and the Treasury Board in the spring before the budget is set.

A written commitment for the March 2014 budget is critically important.

We should pursue any and all avenues with determination and commitment until our hospital expansion is built.

This process takes years and the City should designate a councillor to sit on the Hospital Committee Board throughout the entire project until it is complete.

This will keep everyone well informed and up to date on any vital information. Keep the hospital in the spotlight anyway we can, even literally if necessary!

 

Should council adopt a more open format, perhaps returning to committee of the whole meetings where issues are discussed more publicly, to avoid a repeat of the tax rate bylaw incident, where the matter was debated in camera and never discussed or voted on in public?

Kevin Andrews

Yes, but with extreme caution. “in camera” discussions have value and purpose. They are a safeguard designed to protect the integrity of the process and the people involved.

Yes, they protect people and at times they seem to hide things from the public, but that is not there real purpose.

Matters of property purchase, contract issues and personal issues must be private. Most other issues should (at some point) be a matter of public discussion, public record and possibly even involve a public vote.

Very few rules should be cast in stone forever. It is time we reviewed the way we do things and why.

Keeping the public informed is a core process regarding integrity. Do not hide things; be honest at all times regarding council business.

Be open (when possible) and let everyone know why things are done or discussed the way they are. At least then, people will understand.

Encourage public involvement.

Let them ask honest real questions and answer them. People understand the need for privacy and confidentiality, but not secrecy.

Patrick J. Buchanan

All council meetings are open to the public. Yes, there are times when the councillors need to meet ahead of time to review new information so that it can be presented to the public in a proper manner.

Lynn Kelsey

Truth, trust and transparency are tantamount to good government.

The only things that should be discussed and decided “in camera” are land, legal and labour. If it does not fall under Section 90 then it should be open to any citizen (or press) that wants to sit through all the boring discussion.

If the council needs an in-service meeting on a subject then let the people decide if it is something they want more information on and publicize the in-service (in camera meeting) so that the people can choose for themselves how important it is to get the information. An open format is essential to gaining the trust of the people through transparent governing.

Council must not only appear to be transparent; they must be transparent.

Andre Martin

I’m OK with the current process and if elected will decide further once I get a feel for what is going on.

Open government is essential, but the reality is most people are apathetic to council and its dealings.

Having committee of the whole will make council meetings that much longer for the public and they already lack interest.

I would rather 20 people show up for shorter meetings than no one attending due to the length. Further, committee of the whole may result in less committee work.

Committees are made up of the citizens of Penticton and they provide valuable input to local government.

Finally, if we are asking staff to be more efficient tying them up for a whole day seems to go against the flow.

As far as the tax rate bylaw incident, I don’t believe there was any malicious intent.

It was a mistake and I’m sure policies are in place now to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Katie Robinson

Absolutely. I have always liked the Committee of the Whole format and would very much like to see it back.

I will support its return whole heartily.

There are items (land, legal and labour) that must be dealt with in camera, but these should be kept to a minimum and all else dealt with in public.

The electorate has a right to be informed and they should know how their elected council is representing them.

Having the public see for themselves the sometimes lengthy discussions and deliberations that are necessary before coming to a conclusion, gives a better understanding of how council arrives at their decisions.

A councils job is to serve the public not keep them in the dark.