Taxpayers kept in dark on costs of property

Penticton resident files FOI request to find out the costs to the city from litigation over the Eckhardt Avenue property

Re: Eckhardt Avenue dormitory property. Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton has reported in the press that no costs have been or will be borne by the Penticton taxpayers. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that the remediation costs of the Eckhardt Avenue property would have been paid out of the forfeited purchase deposit paid by the Lorne Reagan group.

The mayor recently stated in the press that the no-cost scenario is still the case and no costs would be borne by the Penticton taxpayers. However, I still had doubts if this statement was still valid now that the city is involved in litigation with the contractors on the Eckhardt Avenue property.

Once again I got down on my hands and knees and begged for information by preparing a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request for access to records. With great speed (the maximum 30-day time limit allowed under the act), city staff provided me with costs incurred to Jan. 31, 2013. My FOI request was dated Feb. 28, 2013. Once again I am getting down on my hands and knees and preparing a second request under the FOI legislation to cover the period up to and including March 31, 2013. I can only assume the city staff are providing me with honest and accurate costing information.

The information received to the Feb. 28 FOI request indicates $37,015 for remediation costs of the property and legal costs incurred to Jan. 31, 2013 of $50,087, and the forfeited purchase deposit retained of $50,000 was applied to reduce net costs to $37,102. So between net remediation cost of the land and legal costs, we have a cost of $37,102 that was paid by someone; if it was not paid for by the Penticton taxpayers, then who paid the bills? Once the litigation is settled we could be looking at a cost estimate to the Penticton taxpayers of between the total legal fees paid and $1 million. This estimate is just my opinion, the range is very broad.

I will attempt to send an FOI request at each month end in order to keep the Penticton taxpayers aware of the total costs incurred to date.

Mayor Ashton, why are the Penticton taxpayers faced with paying for any portion of this political blunder?

Ted Wiltse





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