Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Extending the time limit on economic investment zones

Let us examine the decisions made by the various members of Penticton council

Let us examine the decisions made by the various members of Penticton council on the matter of extending the time limit for Wildstone Construction to complete the Ellis One project and qualify for the 10-year tax relief to see which ones make sense and which do not.

First the council members who voted no.

Mayor Vassilaki said: “We have to listen to the people out there. They don’t want us to keep giving tax money away when it is not necessary.”

True. What is the sense of running an expensive engagement program to get the resident’s opinions, and then ignoring the results?

Coun. Regher said: “If a taxpayer paying their annual tax bill is day late, I don’t think that taxpayer gets to come forward and argue that they ought to be forgiven this.”

How true, a deadline is indeed that.

Coun. Jake Kimberley, a long time opponent of the economic investment zones program called the initiative “a farce.”

Again true, as there is no evidence that this program has lead to projects being completed by developers that would not have occurred otherwise while costing the taxpayer significant revenue. Many other cities in B.C. without this type of incentive program have grown faster than Penticton.

Next the members that voted yes.

Coun. Watt argued that the extension would not result in a loss of tax revenue, but rather a delay in it.

This statement is completely false as the forgone tax revenue for the 10 year period is indeed lost. I wonder whether Jim Bauer, Penticton’s CFO, would agree with Coun. Watt’s financial assessment?

Coun. Katie Robinson noted even the city has run into cost overruns and delays on some of its own projects.

This reasoning is completely unrelated to the issue at hand and irrelevant.

Coun. Bloomfield said; “If we deny this, the benefit that we’re taking away is not to the developer, but its those people who have bought into the development.”

Again, this is not relevant, as the obligation is on Wildstone to meet its commitment to their customer, not the city. If the agreement for sale was properly structured to protect the buyer, it should state that in the event that Wildstone doesn’t complete the project on time, they would be responsible to the buyer for the net present value of the tax benefit lost. I don’t think that someone buying a $1.2 million penthouse suite could be considered an unsophisticated investor.

Coun. Sentes said: “Such one off requests like the one from Wildstone are exactly what elected officials are supposed to decide.”

Again irrelevant, as this explanation provides no basis for the decision made.

I leave it to the voters to decide which councillors made a better case for their decision regarding this issue.

Claude Bergman


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