Penticton not getting bang for its buck

Penticton residents being asked to subsidize outlying regions with upgrade to fire dispatch

For a classic example of a community living and working together in the best interests of that community one only has to travel as far as the North Okanagan. Vernon is such a community.

While Vernon has a population of 38,150, it is also part of an integrated group called Greater Vernon. Greater Vernon sits inside their regional district (Regional District of North Okanagan), with the regional district running referendums for the Greater Vernon district on the building of infrastructure that benefits that community, such as various skating rinks etc. Greater Vernon recently voted in favour of building a sports facility.

Their arts centre, while located in Vernon, was funded by the RDNO and is run for the regional district by the local arts group. The total population of the RDNO is 81,237.

(All the stats in this letter are from 2011.)

The Penticton population is 32,877, while the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is 80,742. I estimate the trading area is about 70,000 to 75,000. Yet Penticton taxpayers pay for the majority of infrastructure services, running costs and maintenance. For example: for the swimming pool, Pentictonites are taxed twice as the surrounding community pays the same user fee as Pentictonites.

Not too long ago the RDOS decided that Penticton fire dispatch services were not competitive and they needed to look elsewhere, so good high-paying Penticton jobs went to Kelowna.

Although Penticton does not need to upgrade our fire dispatch infrastructure, the RDOS says they need to upgrade the outlying regions. This will cost $1.6 million.

Summerland (11,280) has received a promise of repayment for any duplication of infrastructure that they have recently installed if the upgrade requires it. Penticton taxpayers will pay 38 per cent of the $1.6 million costs for upgrading infrastructure not required in Penticton. Osoyoos (4,845) is on the hook for little to no benefit.

The regional district is preparing an alternative approval process. If more than 10 per cent of the 68,835 eligible voters oppose the spending of $1.6 million, it will go to a full referendum.

Please watch the newspapers for notification on where you can vote on this. I would encourage Pentictonites to oppose this. A total of 7,000 eligible voters in the region will need to oppose this expenditure or it will automatically pass.

Community living should not be a one-way street. I as a Penticton taxpayer will be voting no. I would encourage all Pentictonites to do the same.

Elvena Slump