LETTER: Conservation fund questions

Mayor Jakubeit decided to take the decision to support the forming of a sub-regional conservation fund back to council for review.

Mayor Jakubeit decided to take the decision to support the forming of a sub-regional conservation fund back to council for review.

Director Michael Brydon disagreed: “I don’t know when precisely the day was when it was decided everything needed to be taken back to council.” (Penticton Western News, July 15, Conservation fund inching closer)

Now approved; citizen involvement will be under the alternate approval process wherein politicians count on voter apathy to pass spending plans. This backfired a few years ago in Penticton. West Kelowna council also found their citizens balked at approving funding by reverse referendum when they defeated plans for a new city hall.

Penticton council is assuming that they and future councils have bargaining ability to leverage funding in our favour. Council’s ability to leverage funding is unproven. They were unable to leverage funding from the satellite communities for usage and maintenance of our recreational facilities. Casinogate leveraging was questionable. Leveraging in the Lakeside Resort electrical lawsuit; results and cost to Penticton taxpayers’ unknown. How much did the Lakeside and the firefighter lawsuits cost before being withdrawn. In my opinion the consistent multi-year acrimony with the firefighters instead of a concerted effort at leveraging funding from the province through UBCM is another failure by Penticton councils.

Very little remediation work will be done in Penticton under the conditions set for conservation funding. Most will take place outside our borders. Before Pentictonites allow conservation funding tacked onto their taxes they need to see a detailed 10-year plan complete with projected financials on how these funds will be spent. What percentage is allotted to Penticton? What specific projects? What percentage benefits the entire community or the satellite communities as opposed to Penticton?

To overturn the alternative approval process in Penticton will require a huge effort on the part of Penticton voters as the odds are stacked against us when 58 to 60 per cent of the electorate that benefits in our tax dollars is living in the rural and satellite communities outside Penticton.

At $10 per annum per property owner, Penticton will contribute approximately $170,000 per annum. Fund cost will likely quickly increase to $25 per property bringing Penticton’s contribution to $425,000 per annum. Almost two percentage points on Penticton’s tax bill. Automatic increases can be expected once this is on the books. The administration of these funds in private hands leaves too many unanswered questions.

Elvena Slump