Robinson focused on finances

Former councillor looks to unseat Dan Ashton as Penticton's mayor

  • Nov. 15, 2011 7:00 p.m.
Katie Robinson answers a question during an interview at the Penticton Western News offices.

Katie Robinson answers a question during an interview at the Penticton Western News offices.

Katie Robinson may have an affinity for Penticton, but she believes the city needs some tough love in the years ahead.

The only female mayoral candidate has been running a campaign based on fiscal prudence that often has been punctuated with the phrase “Suck it up.”

“Finances are my first concern, and that’s everybody’s concern right now. We need to tighten our belt, make do with what you have and make the best of it,” she said, suggesting operating deficits of the South Okanagan Events Centre and Penticton Trade and Convention Centre need to be addressed. “I don’t think there’s a city anywhere, no matter how big or small, that can afford to be losing $1.5 million every year. That just has to stop.

“We’re in a global recession. Everybody knows that it’s a struggle, but I think we can have some more practical revenue and profit making programs that need to come to the forefront.”

Robinson says she wants city contracts, including those for the events centre, to include performance targets to ensure they are profit-generating entities, rather than a drain on municipal finances.

“I’m a very big fan of paying for performance. Always have been, always will be,” she said, adding that commission sales would be one strategy of putting the SOEC and convention centre back in the black and generating surplus revenue. “If you’re going to aim low, that’s what you’re going to get. You’ve got to aim high.”

Her second priority, she said, is cleaning up the city by giving unsightly premise bylaws more teeth and stepping up enforcement, in addition to addressing absentee landlords.

“Regardless of where our finances are, there are certain things you can do to beautify your city that aren’t prohibitively expensive,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of empty lots that are eyesores to the community.”

She wants to see the return of long-term planning so the city doesn’t get sidetracked by opportunities, much like what happened with the remand centre and correctional facility carrot dangled in front of municipalities in the South Okanagan.

“That was a typical example that wasn’t in anybody’s plan until that was dropped in our laps. Because we need the money, it’s easy to grab at something like that and say, ‘This will provide jobs, this will provide economy,’” she said.

Piggy-backing on the Okanagan Hockey School’s success and more than 2,400 children registered in soccer and hundreds in softball and baseball, Robinson said sports tourism along the lines of Kamloops and recreational offerings would generate jobs.

“I was a big proponent that I would rather see us build four-plexes here than prisons. I think that would bring far more into our economy to have tournaments, sports-related or recreational-related, than anything we could ever hope in the other direction,” she said.

Robinson speaks a great deal about extending the city’s tourism season. As a former chair of the Peach Festival and one of the founding Fest of Ale organizers, she wants to see more events held during the “shoulder seasons” as well as winter months.

She sees building the downtown core up with smaller, unique shopping as providing the economic boost the city needs, allowing the city to market itself more as a Canadian centre for wine, food and the arts.

“Traditionally if you want to shop, you go to Kelowna. If you want to eat, you go to Penticton. That was always our forte. We had great restaurants, great entertainment and that traditionally has been the way it has been in the past,” she said, adding that building the character of the core would help attract more people to visit. “It’s not big-box stores. It’s exactly the opposite, in fact.

“We’ve often been referred to as Napa Valley of the north. I think they’re fairly successful and it’s not rocket science. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We have everything right here, we just have to use it.”

And while job creation has been the catchphrase of this election, with many candidates discussing how to attract employers to Penticton, Robinson said she would rather focus on who is already in town.

“I think that something that can’t be overlooked are the businesses that are already in Penticton and have been here for years and years. If we’re going to offer new incentives for new businesses, how about incentives for current businesses who are already here who already have a footprint in our community and are part of it?” she said. “I don’t profess to have all the answers, but sometimes you don’t see the forest for the trees.

“I spent seven years on an oil rig in northern B.C. so I could pay for my first house. If you look at my parents’ generation, they had ‘Go west, young man, and find some jobs.’ This isn’t something new. It’s always been like that. Sometimes you have to spread your wings and go out and, you know, come back when you’ve paid your dues.”


Just Posted

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

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

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

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

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

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Fanny Chapman doesn’t just serve up Mexican flavours at the Kal Lake Food concession at Kal Beach, she also teaches Spanish. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernonites asked to share funniest Spanish translation stories

Mexicans living in town holding a contest to offer free Spanish classes

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 for David Borden in Oyama, ended after he was found Friday, June 18. (Contributed)
UPDATE: Missing Okanagan man found

Family thanks Facebook community for finding Lake Country man

Canadian blues sensation Colin James will close down Saturday night, Aug. 14 of the 2021 digital Salmon Arm Roots Blues Festival. (Black Press Media file photo)
Salmon Arm’s Roots & Blues Festival returns online after 2020 success

Nine acts, including Colin James, Caleigh Cardinal, to perform on festival website Aug. 13 and 14.

Most Read