One of the most important responsibilities of being in municipal government is approving development, fitting it into the the underground service lines, fitting it into the road network along with a clear vision as to how the city should accommodate its growth.
Having a clear vision as to how you think the city should be not today, but 20 years from today. Sad to say my observation of this councils approval of development and growth has achieved none of those objectives. With their approval of some development over their term, I predict they have and will create major problems in the future of this city.
Take the approval of the casino into the parking area for the South Okanagan Events Centre, the curling club and the Memorial Arena. They have created major problems not just for the SOEC, but for the visitors centre as well, who it seems will never recover what they once had, a high profile corner for visitors. The latest request for this facility supports this bad decision. It’s not just the parking they have destroyed on the site, it’s the future development of the surrounding neighbourhood.
Council has proposed in the 2018 budget, approximately $2.1 million to upgrade the 300 block of Main Street. At the same meeting, council approved an extension of the Economic Investment Zone 2017, Bylaw 2017-74, through to December 2019. This bylaw exempts all new construction in the downtown core will be “exempt” from paying taxes on the building but not the land for up to 10 years. This decision, though meaningful to encourage residential development in the downtown core, will not contribute any additional taxes those property owners are now paying towards the then much needed road upgrade not just in the 300 block but throughout the downtown core for the next 10 years. I am opposed to this bylaw, why because the city will never catch up on that lost property tax revenue. Forgiveness of taxes does not encourage development, the market does. Go figure?
I am opposed to Skaha Bluffs expansion for two reasons. Firstly, no expansion of a city’s boundaries should be approved through an AAP, it should be taken forward as a referendum question at the municipal elections. Second reason, this proposed expansion takes the city boundaries into a forestry interface. This puts the residential development into a high risk fire area. When developed I’m certain the residential owners will demand better fire protection, a South East Fire Hall substation, very costly. That cost will be born by all property owners in the city. Therefore the proposed tax revenue $170,000 from this forest interface development, will not cover that potential cost, or cover the increased cost of servicing the forest interface area. Road maintenance and expansion of city services will also be born by the city’s total tax base.
For those reasons alone, any expansion of a city’s boundaries should go to referendum at the time of the municipal elections.