PHA and city headed to litigation over tourism funds

Single organization to handle tourism marketing for Penticton is about the only thing the city and the PHA agree on.

The need for a single organization to handle tourism marketing for Penticton is about the only thing the city and the Penticton Hospitality Association agree on.

But that hasn’t stopped lawyers for both the PHA and the city from readying their arguments as the legal battle enters its preliminary stages.

PHA director Tim Hodgkinson said the city may not have had all the information it should have when city council made the decision to strip control of the two per cent hotel room tax, about $400,000 annually and award it to Tourism Penticton, saying the PHA had not been living up to the terms of a five-year contract signed last year.

Hodgkinson said city council should have been aware of how far along negotiations were between Tourism Penticton and the PHA, especially since a city staff member, Chuck Loewen, sits on the Tourism Penticton society executive.

“In my own mind, I don’t believe that we were close. If I felt we were close, then we wouldn’t have taken the action we did,” said Mayor Garry Litke.

“It’s not the PHA’s job to manage other organizations, we do understand that if the city was given selective information or wasn’t in receipt of the full facts, then they may have made this decision incorrectly,” said Hodgkinson. “There is always an opportunity for cooler, calmer decision making that’s based on full receipt of the facts. Everybody wants this behind them and to just get on with getting on.”

However, Hodgkinson said it has been an uphill battle over the past year trying to create a good relationship with city hall. The PHA, he said, isn’t aware of not meeting any of their contractual obligations.

“If it’s not one problem then it’s another. It’s a constant barrage of legal correspondence,” he said. Any requirements that may have been delayed, he continued, are due to the city not communicating fully and clearly with the PHA.

“It’s always shifting sands and goalposts. It’s been very frustrating.”

“Over the course of some months, the PHA believes it has been subjected to a campaign designed to hinder and ultimately derail its efforts,” the group stated in a press release announcing their choice of Alfred Kempf, a lawyer with Pushor Mitchell LLP to act on their behalf.

Litke denies there is any animosity on the part of the city or in their actions.

“Our only motivation in taking the actions we have taken is our need to comply with the agreement that was made with the province and the PHA,” said Litke.

“We all agreed to a contract and despite months of negotiation and a mediation process in September, we did not feel the agreement was being honoured in the way it needed to be.

“I hope that at the end, we will have one organization working to promote tourism in Penticton, working from a single budget.”

The city’s objective, according to Litke, is to create more efficient use of the tourism budget.

“Right now, with the people working at cross purposes and now beginning to spend money on legal fees, the money that should be spent on tourism marketing is being diverted and that is a cause for some concern,” he said.

Earlier this month, the city said $21,000 had already been spent on legal fees.

“It’s never too late. I always believe in negotiation, even if there is a legal action taking place. Sometimes it takes a legal action to get to a table to talk seriously,” said Litke.

He’d like to see the two groups continue their negotiations.

Hodgkinson echoed Litke’s comments, but added there had been no contact from the city since the letter advising the PHA of the city’s actions.

Just Posted

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
UPDATE: Fire above Naramata is an illegal open burn

Smoke is still billowing from the blaze Friday morning

Rob and Anthony are the city’s new parking ambassadors who are sharing information with businesses and the public about the new pay parking. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Penticton hires team to inform people on city’s new pay parking system

The pair will spend at least a month helping businesses and residents navigate new pay parking system

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

Keremeos’ heritage Grist Mill and Gardens. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Keremeos Grist Mill looking forward to restrictions easing with exclusive concert planned

Juno Award-winning folk artist Valdy is set to take the stage

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

A search is underway for David Borden in Oyama, since he was last seen Wednesday, June 16. (Contributed)
Search underway for missing Okanagan man

Vernon Search and Rescue, RCMP checking via land, water and air

A truck rolled several times off Highway 6 in Coldstream Thursday night, sending two to hospital. (RCMP photo)
Rollover near Vernon sends 2 to hospital

Highway 6 closed temporarily while emergency crews extricated occupants

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

Most Read