LETTERS:We need to hear candidates vision

Penticton Western News letters to the editor for the Oct.3, 2014 issue.

We need to hear candidates vision

Here we go again, has it become apparent that city developers and city hall values tax revenue far more than green space, recreation and tourism?

Penticton used to rock years ago, but with city planners and bad decisions at city hall, has tourism and recreation not slipped away to favour tax revenues for their seemingly personal projects that they think is best without public approval? Is the agenda now to favour retirement and revenue for projects the city and its citizens really do not need?

Does anyone remember how jammed-packed Skaha was before they removed the road and beach parking? Have zoning changes that have been eliminating heritage motels, waterparks, campgrounds, etc. not made Penticton less favourable to the family and youth that used to thrive here? Do youth and families spend money far more than seniors do? Is it only me or is Penticton gradually turning into Seniorville?

Zero offence to seniors as I am nearing senior years myself, but the youth are here to have fun, spend money and enjoy their vacation to the max. Many people trash Boonstock, but the city was packed with spenders. Yes, it has some issues to address but I am for it. How soon we forget we were at one time the same youth enjoying life like there was no tomorrow.

The city is quick to take legal action against those that criticize it, but is spending taxpayers dollars, eliminating green space, recreation areas, parking without public approval not misappropriation of public property and  funds?

Would a class action suit to those responsible not help extinguish such constant  change and set an example that Penticton actually belongs to its citizens? And, would Penticton not be better off with a more youth oriented city planner that favoured more green space and recreation without having to sell out Penticton’s green and recreation areas for more tax revenue or ideas not public approved?

Therefore, should we also in the next election favour a more enviromental/heritage council and mayor? Should there not be implemented in stone a well-advertised online vote for any waterfront or green space change? What good is a larger marina if there is no place for trucks and boat trailers to park? Once park space is gone, it will never return. Is another restaurant worth this trade off for more revenue?  What if the city stopped this spending spree and concentrated to improve what we already have and enjoy?

Is the suggestion of a waterpark in such limited space just a dream to appease those opposed? And, are they actually serious to again push for dock space by the Sicamous as I have heard? Do they have zero respect for the rejection of this agenda in the last lakeshore fiasco? Is another rally necessary to again stop this insanity? Why is it we have to constantly battle city hall with such ill ideas? Maybe a drastic change at city hall is necessary for the survival of what is left of Penticton being a fun place not only to live and visit, but to ensure our children enjoy this city the same way we did. I would love to hear candidates vision for the future of Penticton before the next vote.

Clifford Martin

Penticton

 

Thanks, angels

On a very windy fall day, Sept. 24, I had just driven up to the bank to deposit some money, all of it in small bills in an unsealed envelope.

I dropped the envelope, and all the money fell out, and went twirling around in the air, and was blown all over the parking lot. I was in tears.

I knew there was no way  I would be able to gather that money up, but then my three male angels came running. They went chasing that money all over the large parking lot, even looking under parked cars to make sure they got it all.

All three of those angels came up to me with the money in their hands to return to me.

I am so grateful to those three beautiful men. Even the people in the bank saw what was going on, and when I told them every single bill was found, some of those people clapped.

I did not know those men and they didn’t know me. I don’t think those men even know each other. I want to thank you fellows from the bottom of my heart; that day you were my angels.  Good things will come your way.

Chere Regambal

Penticton

 

Dedicated to slo-pitch

I’ve been playing slo-pitch in Penticton for years. Over the last few years I’ve come to know a woman named Mira Lipovsek. Mira volunteers her time at Lions Park and the surrounding Parkway fields, cleaning up garbage, collecting empties, chasing after foul balls and home runs.

Mira also clears all the fields of lost and found and holds them in the field shed until they can be returned to the owner. She ensures the lights are turned off and the shed is locked up after everyone has left. This amazing woman also takes the time to visit with the players and get to know everyone.

Mira, we thank you for your time and dedication. Please know that we all talk about you often with appreciation and respect.

We pay for the fields and the umpires when we register for slo-pitch. It would be nice if we could pay Mira for her time as well. All I know is, she’s pretty awesome and ball wouldn’t be the same without her. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Anona Kampe

K-OS, Moves Like Jagger and Silver Grizzlies

 

Political game-playing

The letters in the Sept. 26 issue of the Penticton Western News by Alan Kidd and Cliff Bristow are certainly in opposition with each other’s position.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge or the responsibilities of anyone who is elected to public office and their obligation to represent all people  in their community.

Alan Kidd is 100 per cent accurate in his position and assessment which I totally agree with.

Our elderly civic statesman John Vassilaki has been canonized by Cliff Bristow. To classify John as a gifted “know-it-all,” is, in my opinion, wrong. Perhaps the reason John decided not to attend the UBCM is that the attendees at the UBCM would show up some of the true colours he represents.

If Mr. Vassilaki has learned one thing during his time on city council it is how to work an audience for his benefit. However, when you see what he is all about, anyone can see how nasty he can be.

Residents will remember his personal attack on librarian Larry Little a few years ago and his slapdown of a fellow councilman earlier this year at a council meeting.

Quality candidate for the position of mayor? Not in any normal lifetime. Penticton certainly deserves better, and I encourage anyone to look beyond the window dressing and political game playing which is alive and flourishing in Penticton.

Rick Joncas

Penticton

 

End of tranquility

In 2004 we decided to move from Summerland to beautiful Penticton, to be closer to the hospital and many amenities not found in smaller centres.

We found a perfect apartment with two balconies in the Cherry Lane Towers overlooking the city. At that time other buildings were constructed around us, so we decided in order to minimize the dust, keep out the rain, wind and sleet to install on both ends of our balconies roll shutters. These have been in use in Europe and North America for many years. Matter of fact, when we had the severe storm in Penticton which blew over many trees in the park at Skaha Lake, we had no problem.

The roll shutters prevented the ceiling panels from flying away, as happened on many balconies which did not have this protection.

They are wonderful to keep the heat in, the cold out and are burglar safe. We asked our strata for a permit and the shutters were installed by a Penticton firm.

After having them for eight years, we and other owners received a letter from the City of Penticton, that we have to get a retroactive building permit and perhaps do remedial work on our balconies. This may cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

It seems that the city in need of money tries to get it from vulnerable seniors who live in the Cherry Lane Towers. After 10 years of excellent performance the city is  waking up to the fact they never required and requested building permits and inspections at installation.

The building and permitting manager of the city is threatening us to put liens on our titles if we do not comply.

That ended our tranquility.

Erika and Norbert Ricker

Penticton

 

Caught in conflict with city staff

I am one of over 80 condo owners in Cherry Lane Towers who, through our strata council, have been in conflict with the city staff for nearly four years about roll shutters installed to provide some relief against the Okanagan sun.

The hundreds of unpaid hours dedicated  by strata council members to meetings, inspections, studies and correspondence will have been matched by city staff hours paid through our taxes.

In 2003, when owners chose to explore the idea of these roll shutters, the city administration then in place advised that building permits were not required for “retractable” installations and had no interest. With this determination, I and other owners invested more than $500,000 in various combinations of roll shutters and screens that enhance the seasonal use of our balconies. All installations were carried out by a local licensed company with a solid reputation using factory-trained personnel with extensive experience.

We now have a new city administration that takes the position that permits must be obtained retroactively for installations made up to 11 years ago (a cash grab?) These shutters and screens have been installed throughout B.C., North America and the Caribbean and the manufacturer, a continent-wide enterprise based in B.C., states that Penticton is the only jurisdiction in their market area requesting building permits and the first to raise any safety-related issues.  We are owners caught between two generations of conflicting city staff.

A study paid for by the strata in mid-2011 made clear that there was no relevant legislation then in place in respect to balconies and the author took the initiative to construct possible guidelines based on the 2010 National Fire Protection Act, a version that was not in effect when the installations were made.

Whatever their merit, these were only suggestions by a single consultant which have not been reviewed by the governing bodies and have no apparent legislative authority. Despite this, city staff is using this report to demand possible removal of all roll shutters, their replacement with screens, or the costly and unsightly installation of sprinklers on concrete balconies with a fire resistant finish.

Compliance could cost the owners involved, many of whom are senior widows or widowers on fixed incomes, as much as another $500,000. The alternative, city staff say, would be consideration of individual resolutions to put notice on title. This lengthy process would surely divert the attention of city council from other more important matters.

I do not know why city staff is focusing on a modern concrete and steel development, fully sprinklered and rated as fire resistant. It is clear that the restrictions and compliance actions they are proposing could be applied to most or all other apartment and strata developments in the city including those with glassed-in balconies.

Be wary Penticton. City staff may soon be staging an event near you.  The potential resulting costs to citizens and the tax-paid legal and financial consequences are frightening.

I am disappointed that, notwithstanding the more than $500,000 spent by us owners in good faith and the threat of arbitrary compliance actions that could cost a group of senior property owners another $500,000, no member of city council other than former mayor Dan Ashton took the time to make a personal inspection of these installations or review the impact of the staff proposals.

Brian Remus

Unit owner, Cherry Lane Towers

Penticton

 

Problem doesn’t exist

Recently we moved from Osoyoos to Penticton to be closer to the hospital due to health concerns.

We spent hours researching the Cherry Lane Towers location as it is a solidly built steel and concrete building and in excellent condition.

We purchased a unit containing balcony roll shutters. We were confident and assured by everything we researched on these roll shutters that the city would accept all the hours of correspondence strata and Talius Industries provided city staff and councillors, confirming the structural integrity of these installations that have been in place for up to 11 years and have survived exceptional local storm conditions without incident.

$500,000 have been invested in these roll shutters with Penticton city staff approval and the approval of former mayor Dan Ashton, also acknowledging that no permits were needed.

We were surprised and disappointed to receive a letter on Aug. 20 from the current building and permitting manager stating the city wanted to bring our unit’s balcony into safety compliance (totally disregarding all the correspondence proving these roll shutters are structurally safe).

On Sept. 24 we received another letter from the current building and permitting manager stating that if we do not comply by Oct. 4 the city may have no other recourse but to recommend to city council that it consider a resolution directing the corporate officer of the city to file a notice in the Kamloops Land Title Office against our property.

How is it that current city officials can just ignore and reverse approval given by former mayor Dan Ashton and the city officials serving with him and demand retroactive city permits or they will file a notice on our property in the land title office?

Why is it that city staff has refused to respond to the various requests from owners to provide us with regulations and bylaws governing balconies on non-combustible buildings in effect at the time the installations were made? The owners have not received any statements of specific violations we are being accused of. The owners with roll shutters are seniors on a fixed budget.

To pay out thousands or more dollars to fix a problem that doesn’t exist, would be a hardship. Does certain city staff not have enough work to do that they would waste tax dollars pursuing a problem that doesn’t exist and keep them from conducting genuine business in Penticton?

Bob and Sandy Bell

Unit owner, Cherry Lane Towers

Penticton

 

Changing the Rules

I am another of the large group of senior owners in Cherry Lane Towers who made a major investment in a combination of shutters and blinds to allow summer use of a large attractive balcony.

This installation was made at a time when the city planning department had no interest and did not require a building permit for retractable installations of this nature.

I now face demands from a new generation of staff to apply for a retroactive building permit, remove or replace two small shutters at substantial additional cost or pay the even higher costs of extending my building sprinkler system onto the balcony. The alternative is reportedly notice on title that could significantly affect the value of my property.

It is disturbing that this new generation of staff says they have the right to override the policy decisions of the previous administration. Even more disturbing is their claimed authority to demand compliance actions that would cost me thousands of dollars and all of the owners involved, hundreds of dollars.

These demands are based on guidelines proposed by a single consultant in a report that the city did not commission and that was prepared long after the shutter installations. These guidelines are not reflected in the current codes, have not been seen or vetted by the relevant provincial authorities, and have not been incorporated in any municipal bylaw.

Does city staff really have the power to independently make and enforce arbitrary additions to the building and fire codes that appear to lack any legislative authority? If so, where does this end and how does anyone launch an effective appeal? It is difficult to fight city hall. When staff does not respond to your arguments, does not provide needed answers, and will not quote relevant legislation, there is nothing you can do.

Threats of a legal confrontation mean little since the staff has lawyers and potential case cost paid for through the city budget. Property owners on the other hand must engage legal counsel at their own expense, making an objective review by a third party or the court virtually impossible.

The only alternative might be increased public pressure on this and future city councils to take a closer look at some of the staff initiatives, the justification and the impact these can and are having on local businesses and individual property owners. If you agree, please speak out.

C.F. Armstrong

Penticton