LETTERS: City council needs common sense

Mayor and council, if you want to impress me then get us out of the red and back into the black.

Now that I have retired from my municipal job with the City of Penticton, the muzzle is now off and I have officially been de-Harperized when it comes to municipal affairs. I would sincerely like to thank Elvena Slump for saying many of the things I wanted to, but was forbidden to.

The first thing I would like to address is the financial wizardry of Dan Ashton, when anyone with half a brain knows the city could not afford zero per cent tax increases for three years, especially after just blowing $79 million on the SOEC. This was simply a political move to make himself look like some kind of money magician and to further his own political career. Apparently his plan worked.

The next thing I would like to address is the staffing shortage (union staff). About a dozen union positions were lost and never replaced. The city keeps growing and developing, but no staff are added to help maintain all the new infrastructure. It is placing extra hardship and stress on the current employees, and it always seems to be a question of money, but cash never seems to be a problem when hiring a new manager.

I can tell the taxpayers of this city one thing for sure; you are not getting the same level of services now that you received five years ago thanks to budgets being cut to the bone. The street sweeper used to be out eight hours per day and today it is out maybe three to four hours per day (some days), Some infrastructure maintenance has gone by the wayside. Just look at any rusty and flaking fire hydrant along Skaha Lake Road or bollard in Okanagan Park and you will see what I mean. Sidewalk spraying for noxious weeds now only takes place on the main arteries, with the onus now placed on the residents to control the weeds around their property.

Either the Canadian economy is in the toilet, or our economic development plan needs a severe shakeup. The most common sign I see in building windows nowadays here is “for lease.” I do not understand why we do not advertise ourselves more, whether it be through TV, radio, or any other means of getting ourselves out there.

We have to stop ignoring infrastructure repair/replacement in favour of large scale projects that we do not need, and get our priorities straight. There needs to be a much better balance between development and infrastructure needs.

Mayor and council, if you really want to impress me and leave a lasting memory of yourselves, then get us out of the red and back into the black without slashing more union jobs. Start re-paving our crumbling streets. Use a little common sense. It’s all I ask. Keep your eyes open folks. Now that I have all this time on my hands, you just may see my name and face on an election placard in 2019. Stay tuned.

Mark Billesberger