British Columbia has no recall legislation to bring accountability to their local councils.
Previously we had two-year term limits giving voters an opportunity to recall unsuited members with a new election. Terms increased to three-years. In 2014, terms increased to four years with no adequate checks and balances to protect the public from undemocratic or unsuitable decision making at the local level. Other than the commission of a criminal offence, city councils and rural districts are likely to remain intact for the full term.
The City of Penticton has held in-camera planning on commercial development of Skaha Lake Park since early 2013. Yet commercialization of Skaha Park was ignored as an issue by those running for civic election in 2014. Most but not all sitting members ran for re-election.
Public outcry ensued when the City/Trio’s plans for commercial development of Skaha Lake Park became widely-known in the spring of 2015.
Even though many previous councils were involved in the long-term planning of Skaha; expropriation of land to enlarge the park, planting of memorial trees, use of private funds from clubs such as Rotary expanding public involvement in free pleasurable activities; council refused to hold a referendum on expanded commercial development citing the $30,000 expense.
Options are few. We can sue ourselves; pay for the court challenge and the defense mounted by the city. Success is contingent on proving our case in court. This is cumbersome; recall is necessary to ensure the right of the voters to a voice.
I have talked to thousands of people during the recall petition campaign. Whilst I am only willing to take signatures for recall from those meeting Penticton voting requirements; I found that people from all parts of B.C. feel victimized by planned desecration of their park lands. This is wrong.
The recall petition has the potential to ensure the people have a voice in the direction of their city. It will bring accountability whenever city councils or rural districts ignore the wishes of the majority vote in their community.
We are two-thirds towards our goal. This recall petition will go to the Premier of British Columbia. It will be asking the Premier and her legislature to invoke recall legislation. Now that we have four-year terms adequate protection is needed to protect citizens from the autocratic decision-making and disdain shown to Penticton residents by their current council.