LETTERS: Penticton Hospitality Association needs to be clear on their plans

Penticton Western News letters to the editor for the Sept. 3 issue.

Penticton Hospitality Association needs to be clear on their plans

Using room tax funds collected under its contract with the City of Penticton, the Penticton Hospitality Association (PHA) has an annual budget of approximately $400,000.  Many other non-profit societies in this region would envy such an arrangement.

So exactly what is the PHA doing with these monies? The association’s website features a few press releases citing grants given by the PHA to community organizations such as the Elvis Festival and the   TedX Talks. While the PHA board may consider that funding to be legitimate, its allocation of the remaining funds requires explanation, particularly in terms of meeting strategic tourism objectives.

Although the City of Penticton lost its contract-related lawsuit against the PHA, Judge Betton stated in his July 30, 2014, reasons for judgment that “there may well be room to be critical of the PHA and argue that it has not served the interest of stakeholders by being as active in promoting new projects and marketing as possible.”  The marketing and promotional “deliverables” expected from the PHA obviously need to be explicit in any future contractual arrangements with the City of Penticton.  The PHA should not expect to continue to avoid accountability for those basic requirements.

Penticton taxpayers might feel a whole lot better about the activities of the PHA if the association opened its books and was clear on its plans.  In his recent public letter, the PHA’s operations director Tim Hodgkinson laid out some tests of accountability for the City of Penticton’s elected officials and staff.  Now it’s time for the PHA to also demonstrate that it, too, can meet key public accountability standards in fulfilling its tourism marketing role.

Transparency on the part of the board is an obvious requirement if the PHA wishes to gain public confidence in the association’s spending of hotel room tax funds. That would include a detailed accounting of how those monies are spent on tourism marketing, plus detailing of costs and wages, including those for Mr. Hodgkinson.  Unfortunately, it is “poor optics” for the PHA that he is also named on their website as an executive member of its board of directors. A lot of quality tourism marketing should be expected from an organization with a $400,000 tax-supported annual budget.

Loraine Stephanson



The illusion of change

Young people want change, of that there is no doubt.

What is doubtful is the people allegedly providing a route for change. What, in my opinion, is being paraded as change is nothing more than an illusion. Changing puppets while retaining the same puppet master , is not real change, by any stretch of the imagination.

Everlast has a song called I Get By. The lyric’s include, “I voted for some change and it’s kinda strange, now it’s all I got in my pocket.” Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Dennis Baker


Speaking up

Last week I witnessed an appalling act of social injustice by a city bylaw officer.

There is a gentleman who I see regularly downtown; he never talks to anyone, just sits there minding his own business with a hat in front of him.  I don’t know how he ended up there, and it is not my place to judge.  I know him by name now, but only because I initiated a conversation and acquaintance. The bylaw officer was confronting him with alleged complaints from “others.” I stopped and asked the officer if I could say something when the officer paused. This person held their hand up in my direction and bluntly refused. My friend asked to let me speak, as I am a concerned and tax-paying citizen.  The officer said I would be an “obstruction” to their job and appeared to use the position to intimidate me, and him.

I was so angry that all I could say was that he was a good man, and walk away with tears in my eyes.  I learned from him a few minutes later that he was given a fine of $110 dollars and the officer went out of their way to tell nearby people at a coffee shop that he was a violent man. If you want to pick on the harmless “less fortunate” of our community, how about also clamping down on transients that do the same thing? Or enforcing bylaws about riding bikes on sidewalks?

Honestly, I hope the officer was just having a bad day and that this is an isolated incident.  Those who have a voice must speak out for those who do not.

Sharon Otke



Reconnect with nature

The best part of summer is upon us (the mosquitoes are gone!) and the joys of being out in nature abound.

As the president of the South Okanagan Trail Alliance (SOTA), it’s my pleasure to invite you to join us in creating awesome memories while enjoying recreational pathways, gaining fitness and reconnecting with nature. SOTA is a non-profit/volunteer recreational trail stewardship group.  Our sphere of influence covers several hundred square kilometers of land at every elevation in the Okanagan. We work with BC Parks, Crown, private, city and NGO land-managers in creating, maintaining, signing and sanctioning non-motorized recreational trail networks in our beautiful valley – and we’d love to have you aboard.

Check out SouthOkanaganTrailAlliance.com to learn more about us, what we do and how you can join like-minded individuals, while enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

Andrew Drouin


South Okanagan Trail Alliance


Incredible edible

South Okanagan Women in Need Society has recently received funding from First West Credit Union, to support their WE Nourish project.

The project encourages community members to join together to grow food. Partnerships have already been formed with Incredible Edible Penticton, Salvation Army community garden and Penticton Indian Band. The project now has three available gardening plots, which need cultivating and prepared for winter growing.

Incredible Edible is looking to match groups or individuals with these growing spaces. The Incredible movement started in a small market town of Todmorden in England, who were looking for a way to engage community members in a meaningful way to share skills, grow food, educate around local food and support local producers and most of all create a community of kindness. This movement has seen a significant increase in community pride, crime reduction and increased sales for local producers. Should you wish to support this initiative in Penticton, please “like” our Facebook page Incredible Edible Penticton, where you can sign up to become an Incredible volunteer.

Please like our Incredible Edible Penticton Facebook page. You must join us on this Incredible! journey.

Hilma LaBelle

Incredible Edible Project Lead