LETTERS: A few questions before elections

Writer needs some more answers before he decides how he'll vote

So many questions before the elections. My biggest concern is the renegade out-of-control city planners and those that approve their redundant ideas. Have planners and local politicians over the years transformed a city that was so much fun for youth and families into seniorville?

No offence to seniors, as I am almost there myself, but what age group spends the most money on holidays? Young adults and families is the correct answer.

Penticton used to rock when I first moved to the Okanagan, now it is becoming boring with little entertainment value for youth. Thank god for Loco Landing, one of the few attractions still left, but with deterring zoning changes that eliminated campgrounds, water slides, heritage motels, RV parks, parks and green space etc. are these changes really for the people? Their personal legacy? Or, revenue for city hall to blow money on projects like they won the lottery?

Look at Martin Street, how many people smash their doors on these dumb posts? Or, cannot get out of their car with posts in the way? The corner sidewalk extensions into the intersections that make it difficult for large vehicles to turn etc.

Is it transparent that the city planners have a severe case of monkey see, monkey do every time Kelowna does something? Was the Okanagan Lake vote not to put a marina at the Sicamous and leave it as is?

Sadly I just learned that now they have had the option list out again for the Sicamous area. Has anyone noticed they never give the option to just leave it as is?  Is this another sneaky tactic to trick the public to get what they want? Would this not be consider a breach of trust by ignoring the wishes of the people voting Option 4? Does it also show that planners and politicians really don’t care what the public thinks and will eventually do what they want anyway?

John Vassilaki promises transparency and accountability, but was it not he that paid for the marine survey at the Sicamous? Was it not him that voted against Option 4,  preferring the city to go millions of dollars in debt instead of the options that favoured his Sicamous development/marina? And, has Vassilaki had input into the current list of options that appear to favour his original plans? I like John on a personal level, but we need more answers before the election.

It sickens me for the future of rapidly dwindling parks and green space in this city with planners and developer-minded people at city hall that have no conscience for nature.

Before I vote, I would love to know which candidates truly care about Penticton and its green space and who are in it for their own personal agendas. I would definitely vote for those willing to make change/elimination in the planning department and those that believe it is better to concentrate on  current infrastructure without selling out what little charm still exists of Penticton. I would love to hear what the  candidates’ views are  on these matters.

Clifford Martin



Thanks for your opinion

After reading Rolf Loth’s condemnation of my letter to the editor I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

Ignorance is a learned and debilitating disease almost always associated with those that cannot think for themselves.

I really appreciate his letter though, as this proves that there are some citizens that do not always agree with my opinions and for this we should all be thankful.

Mr Roth is entitled to his opinions, as misguided as they are, but I will leave it up to the readers to decide if his opinions are rational or just junk mail.

For those that have missed it, please pick up a copy of the Penticton Western News for Friday, Oct. 24 and turn to the letters page.

Or you can read it online at www.pentictonwesternnews.com/opinion/letters.

Donald E Thorsteinson



City council where are you?

In light of the legal action fostered by the city and carried out by a “premier law firm from Vancouver,” what has happened?

Apparently, nothing! The echoes of transparency, fiscal responsibility and such seem to have been sealed in a time capsule to possibly be opened sometime in the future, or not.

The whole issue seemed to be a knee jerk reaction by the city, possibly to show that omnipotence by public officials cannot be challenged without backlash of some sort. What a way to get civic notoriety. The media ran wild with this all over B.C. The David and Goliath effect at its best! FDR carries his big stick!

As a taxpayer, the city would appear to have mounds of scrambled egg on its face, as not much has happened since the initial story unfolded. No accounting for money spent or misspent in litigation, depending on your point of view. It might be likened to a shopper who goes into a retail store, buys something, pays for it, has it packaged and then walks out and leaves it on the counter.

The question would appear to be, what did council achieve? And, how did taxpayers benefit from this financial  gambit? The jury is still out on that one.  The tenets of transparency; fiscal responsibility and accountability touted by many of the sitting council members in their campaigns seem to be less than transparent, in fact, appear to be more translucent than transparent.

Will we, as taxpayers, ever know the real truth about these legal costs? Probably not! The attitude of I’m right and they’re wrong and I ain’t quittin’, would seem to be the city’s order of the day and they don’t feel that they have to prove it.

November is moving ever closer and electioneering is prevalent everywhere one goes in the city. It is refreshing to see so many new names that will be on the upcoming ballot.

With so many names, many unknown heretofore, will the same rash promises of fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency still be major planks in an individual’s platform? Will people run campaigns based on sincerity or hype?

The proof of the pudding might well be in the eating!

Ron Barillaro



Reaching out

Gordon and Edna Johnson sent a letter speaking about the challenges of living in poverty.

We at the Access Centre see this situation on a daily basis (dealing with over 1,000 requests for assistance each month). With the municipal election coming soon, it may be a good time to ask all candidates for city council some questions about this.

In the 2013 Vital Signs report of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen, our community was given a grade of D+ for the gap between rich and poor. Stats Can figures for 2005 (the latest available) show that 10.2 per cent of our citizens live below the low income cutoff, and 12.3 per cent of our children do. Given that use of services such as the food bank, soup kitchen, and Access Centre have  increased in that time, it seems that these numbers are increasing.

What do you see as the role of municipal government in addressing issues of poverty, and what policies or programs would you like to see put in place?

Elmie Saaltink, chair

Penticton and Area Access Society


Integrity of our votes this election

On Oct. 21st I sent the following request to city hall: please send me the security checklist that was used in the 2011 civic election to ensure security of the vote counting machines before; during the hours the polls are open and after during the counting and tallying procedure. Also the measures that are taken to secure the hard copy of the ballot until the waiting period for challenges are made.

Secondly, please send me the security checklist that is to be used in the coming 2014 civic election including all the information requested above.

These simple checklists ensure the integrity of these machines and protection of the voter. I have not received a response or an acknowledgement that this request has been received.

Time is short.

Advance polls will be held within a short span of time, mail in ballots are being sent; the longer my request is delayed or ignored the less time there will be to ensure adequate scrutiny of the security list the city uses to ensure the integrity of the vote or to make any suggestions that would be beneficial to ensure that the rights of the voter have been protected.

There has been conflict this election in Penticton between the voter and city hall on the use of these vote counting machines.

In my opinion; the complexity of the vote as opposed to single ballots in provincial and federal elections is sufficient reason to use these machines providing adequate security is taken to ensure the security of the vote.

I have talked extensively to a software designer on this subject and I am personally satisfied that it is unlikely that these machines will be tampered with remotely which is one of the key issues of this group.

However, voters are still faced with the same problem since time immemorial, ensuring the integrity of their vote. Scrutineering is a valuable tool in preserving the right of the voter to honest elections.

The failure of an acknowledgement by the city to my request leads me to question whether adequate measures have been taken in past elections to preserve the integrity of the vote and does not reassure me that adequate measures are being taken in this election to protect the integrity of these machines and the rights of the voter.

Elvena Slump



Find different funding for city renovations

Recent letters to the editor have discussed issue regarding the approval to expand the economic investment zones in Penticton.

I gather the grants are intended to encourage construction that might not otherwise happen. One point missed in the concerns raised about the cost issues for this program is that Penticton businesses already have a significant property tax advantage over almost all B.C. municipalities.

Each year when council approves property tax rates for general municipal taxes (the operating budget for the city) they approve a mill rate for residential property assessments and a different mill rate for business property assessments. As a result the mill rates approved and our property assessments values the 2014 general budget of $27.1 million was $19.6 million for residential properties, $6.5 million for business properties and an additional $1 million for other assessment categories.

In B.C. there are 161 municipalities, each able to decide what rate of taxes are assigned to residential properties. When the Penticton business and residential tax rates are compared to the other 160 municipalities in B.C., Penticton has the 10th lowest ratio for business property taxes. The nine municipalities that do give businesses a better tax break than Penticton are all communities of less than 5,000 population. If Penticton followed the business and tax ratio used in Kelowna this year, Penticton general residential taxes would have been $1.3 million less and Vernon’s practice would have saved Penticton residential taxpayers $2.4 million.

No business in B.C. in a municipality of over 5,000 population pays a lower share of general property taxes than in Penticton.

In addition to this tax advantage for all businesses’ the tourism industry receives significant additional benefit as a result of the city funding many activities intended to bring tourists to the community. These expenses would include the Challenge race deficits, convention centre deficits, grants to host such events as the B.C. Games, plus significant extra operational costs to manage and maintain the community.

I don’t know if the $1.8 million cost for civic renovations of the 100 and 200 block of Main Street is to help businesses or tourism but it does not seem appropriate as a responsibility for the whole community. The residential taxpayer in Penticton pays over 72 per cent of the general municipal budget, which is the funding source to fund many of these programs. I expect most residential taxpayers enjoy the activities available in our community that require city funding support. Is it a requirement that for the privilege of living in a municipality that attracts many tourists that the residential taxpayer must pay such a large share of the extra costs spent to provide the activities that attract the tourists? Even though the city spends so many tax dollars to get tourists into local hotels, the recent loss of a court case shows the city does not even have a say in how the accommodation tax generated may be spent.

Many of the candidates for Penticton council indicate that new economic development initiatives are a high priority for the city. Unless they limit their initiatives to cheerleading, I hope their proposals come with a funding source that does not include the residential taxpayer.

Frank Regehr



Get out and vote

Something for those who do not vote to consider.

In the upcoming elections we must remember that a vote not cast is actually a vote for whomever gets elected. If you do not vote, accept the fact that you have elected the mayor and council and hold your criticism until you actually cast a vote.

Check out the candidates the best you can and make an informed or gut decision, but make a decision.

Bob Richards



Question everything

Every morning I spend a few moments to read the headlines on CNN, CTV and CBC.

For the last two weeks, I hear nothing but Ebola on all three channels. Never, in my entire lifetime of 75 years, have I seen a certain subject literally beaten to death on the stupidity accelerator. Yes, I even hear that the National Guard of the U.S. will attack the Ebola outbreak. I wonder how the National Guard will bomb the Ebola virus to death.

It seems to me, that the public must always have some imaginary foe to confront. Bird and swine flu is dead, long live Ebola. We hunted down the evil Adolf, Nasser, Idi Amin, Kony 2012, I wonder what ever happened to him, because we never heard the end result. We killed Kaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and are in the process of ousting Assad. We needed gypsy moth, mill foil, pine beetles and other pests. Most of them have disappeared, no one told us what ever happened to these pests.

The best of all is, we see pictures on the TV about an Ebola task force, transporting an Ebola sick person into a plane. Since the stretcher cannot climb the stairs up to the plane, the patient simply gets off the stretcher and walks up the stairs without assistance. I wonder how sick this person was in his brain as to get off his bed and walk. All of the people present at the transport wear protective overalls and mask, except the reporter who seems to be immune against Ebola. The reporter even took a ride, unprotected in the ambulance, which brought the patient to the plane, but the driver wears his protective gear. It reminds me of something funny happened on the way to the moon.

I think that either the media or the entire system needs a forced psychiatric treatment to correct the upstairs deficiency. What do they think of the public?

Do they think we are all stupid and would not notice such obvious contradicting behavior of the ambulance crew and reporter?

Even in Africa, people do not believe this BS about Ebola, because the people there attack the Red Cross staff, who pass out vaccinations after which people fall ill with Ebola.

Otto Sturhahn



Why don’t countries do more?



For months now, we have seen so much about Ebola on the TV, not to mention all the other catastrophies going on around our world. I’m sure I’m not the only one to be thinking this way, either.

Why is it that these war-torn countries have not done for their people what they should be doing for their people. Teaching them how to become self reliant people.  Why are the countries that hand over millions not ensuring the money is going to where it should be going.   Why are these people not being taught how to be masters of their own lives?

Is it any wonder that so many young men, and women too, are becoming radicals.  No doubt they see no future for their lives, so what have they got to loose. Something is definitely wrong somewhere. All that gold that has been mined in Africa and they can’t provide for their people. I was always taught the more you do for someone the less they’ll do for themselves. You become the enabler. Ask yourself, what is the reason behind it? Does it all boil down to the greed factor?

Joan Johnson



Join in the fun

Lately I have been asked who can participate in your club’s auctions. The answer is simple – anyone who is either a club member or a visitor can participate in our auctions, however one has to be a paid-up member to put items up for sale/auction.

Our memberships are inexpensive at $15 per year for adults and $5 for juniors. We do charge a 10 per cent fee for all auction items and this money is to off-set our membership fee and rental of location.

Items donated by the public are at auction at every meeting and proceeds go towards our club’s charities. We always welcome visitors to our meetings and encourage them to participate and ask questions.

Our meetings start at 2 p.m. and last until 4 p.m. Our next meeting is Nov 2 at the Penticton United Church on Main Street (Blue Church) but one is welcome to come a bit earlier to have conversation with club members. Usually we have some of the members arriving near 1 p.m. to help with setting up tables. Feel free to come and join.

Gus Boersma, president

Penticton & District Stamp Club