Editorial: Hanging the blame

Kleb said it is going to take some time to rebuild trust between Penticton city council and the community.

There’s a number of cliches relating to the unfairness of life in general. There’s truth to that, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be as fair as possible.

That includes not hanging the blame on our current city council for events and issues they have no control over. Engagement consultant JoAnne Kleb, in her first report to council, listed a number of issues brought up at her public information sessions, including the failed hockey dormitory, cost overruns at the SOEC and other items that predate the current council.

It’s all right to question whether council should have voted themselves a benefit package, but the hockey dormitory started long before this council took their seats. To be sure, some of our current crop were there, but each council is a unique entity, the current group can only be judged on how they deal with an old issue. In this case, the hockey dormitory is a dead issue, at least until the ongoing court case against the original proponents is decided.

Looking back, the only thing that council can be blamed for is being too enthusiastic and led on by an alleged con man. Though the proposal wasn’t realistic, the concept of building a hockey dormitory was desirable for the city.

Likewise, the current council can’t be blamed for causing the current infrastructure deficit crisis. Beyond previous Penticton councils deciding not to raise property taxes, there are a number of factors, shared with communities across Canada.

Even saying that isn’t completely fair. Coun. Helena Konanz, who was on some of those councils, was a particularly strident voice that the city shouldn’t draw on reserve funds to balance the budget.

When it comes to the infrastructure deficit, the current council and city staff should be praised, not damned, for facing up to the problem and taking beginner steps to develop a solution.

Kleb said it is going to take some time to rebuild trust between city hall and the community. Part of that, though, is not trying to make the current council responsible for every problem the city has ever faced.