Letter: Unanswered questions on conservation fund

The tax is to start a conservation fund that would effectively bill every property owner in Penticton an additional sum of $10 per year

While Penticton is embroiled in controversy over a $175-million infrastructure deficit, and the city’s proposed new Skaha Park contract with Trio, it appears Penticton council through the RDOS is trying to slip a fast tax bill through by the alternative approval.

Read more: Conservation fund inching closer

The tax is to start a conservation fund that would effectively bill every property owner in Penticton an additional sum of $10 per year to support conservation funding in the entire regional district, excluding Area H (Princeton area).

Penticton council owes property owners an explanation for their silence on this proposed bylaw.

AAP Bylaw No. 2690 is crafted innocuously. It says nothing about funding. Before Pentictonites allow conservation funding tacked onto their taxes they need to see a detailed 10-year plan complete with projected financial’s on how these funds will be spent. What percentage is allotted to Penticton?

Penticton’s restoration committee is presently working on the second phase of Penticton Creek restoration. We can continue restoration with grants for the little remediation work remaining in Penticton.

Citizen involvement is under the alternate approval process wherein politicians count on voter apathy to pass spending plans. 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 58-60 per cent of the electorate benefiting lives in the rural and satellite communities outside Penticton.

Part of the reason for Penticton’s $175-million infrastructure deficit is the long-standing refusal of the satellite communities to share recreational infrastructure costs. Yet this bylaw would require Penticton to contribute 40 per cent of the area funding to conservation outside Penticton boundaries. The conditions required for conservation funding will allow little restoration in Penticton. The majority will take place outside our borders.

At $10 per property owner, Penticton will contribute approximately $170,000 per annum. Fund cost in other areas soon increased 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. I will be voting against this bylaw at the RDOS offices at 101 Martin St. Penticton. Anyone else wishing to do the same should do so before Dec. 5.

Elvena Slump