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Letters  

Questions city revenue use

A financial decision by the West Kelowna city council has allowed city staff to use utility property sales funds for their works yard project.

However, this has a negative impact on the utility users of the Rose Valley Water System, who are now facing an extra $5.3 million cost for the debt borrowing on the treatment plant.

That is an unfair and unnecessary burden for the utility users, who deserve better transparency and accountability from the council.

In 2010 (three years after incorporation), the City of West Kelowna acquired the assets and management of two water systems—the Lakeview Irrigation District (LID), which became the Rose Valley Water System, and the Westbank Irrigation District (WID), which became the Powers Creek Water System. The LID and WID lands and buildings were paid for by decades of utility user fees and are assets that belong to the respective irrigation district utilities.

The city sold the LID property at 2570 Bartley Road in 2023 for $3.7 million. The sale proceeds should go to the utility account. The city will use the money to construct offices and mechanical shops on the 11.4 acres of land the province gave to the city for the works/operations yard at 2515 Bartley Road.

The city is also planning on selling the (former) Westbank Irrigation District (now Powers Creek Water System) utility land and building on Elliot Road at an estimated sale price of $3.9 million.

The city will, again, use the revenue for the works yard or other projects and not to bolster the negative value water reserves (minus $5.6 million in water DCCs and a projection for Powers Creek Reserves to be minus $2.2 million at the end of 2024)

The city also plans to borrow $23.5 million for the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant.

I proposed to lower the borrowing amount by the $3.7 million LID property sale which would reduce the borrowing to $19.8 million and save utility users $5.3 million in principal and interest. However, the city rejected my proposal and insisted on using the $3.7 million utility funds for their works yard.

Revenues and expenses for utilities and property taxation are supposed to be totally separate and not crossover, which is why residents receive a utility bill and a property tax bill.

Is the city being transparent or are they just moving money around to suit their strategic priority agenda? The Rose Valley utility users deserve to know how much they are borrowing, $23.5 million or $19.8 million, for their water system.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual utility user to decide whether they are willing to pay an additional $5.3 million in utility costs, or whether they want to challenge the city's decision and demand more information and consultation.

What is the opinion of West Kelowna utility users?

Thomas Lovell, West Kelowna



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Homeless 'Shangri-La'

If somehow the powers to be in Victoria, at Kelowna City Hall and city residents don't realize the Pandora’s box they have opened with the tiny home solution they consider to be the answer homelessness in Kelowna, everyone is in for a big surprise.

Once word gets out to the homeless population of B.C. and Western Canada—if not all of Canada—they will flock here in droves in search of Kelowna’s homeless Shangri-La.

Terry Kramer



Unhappy with city direction

Sports enterprises will say they want to take the organization in a different direction when they decide to get rid of management.

Well, I believe it is time we said that to management at Kelowna City Hall, and remove top management, including planning.

(I believe) management is not serving the residents and taxpayers of Kelowna. Below are a few examples of their “disregard” of our well-being, and the “reckless” disregard for the environment in our city.

1. The “pandering” to developers of high rises along the lake is well documented. Previous city Official City Plans called for gradual increase in building height moving away from the lake. That was scrapped, while rezoning and variances provided a haven for developers, national and international investors. One example is the 25-storey zoning downtown which means 40 storeys to staff.

2. Rezoning for development of our ever popular, environmentally significant Heritage Conservation Areas.

3. Overpayment for assets, most recently the lot on Mission Creek for three times market value, and the eventual exorbitant price tag for the Parkinson Recreation Centre, estimated (by critics) to be overpriced by $100 million plus approximately $75 million in interest (over 30 years), versus comparable centres. These are just two examples of the contempt management has for our tax dollars.

4. The city manager put forth a proposal to council for the Parkinson Recreation Centre replacement local ($242 million) without so much as a scale model, drawings or the minimal financial costing. The city did not have the courage to go to referendum, but pushed the Alternative Approval Process in the hot summer.

5. Hesitancy until recently to provide any local plan for affordable homes in Kelowna.

6. The management team supported the destruction of a superb and environmentally important golf course in Kelowna.

7. It supported the destruction of 135 affordable homes at the Central Mobile Park. That is a magnificent park with dozens of tall trees, which also provides a quiet and healthy neighbourhood for the elementary school children next door. The city had no problem supporting a five-storey boat barn on the lakeshore a couple of blocks away though.

8. Construction of and estimated $800,000 and and estimated $600,000 washroom at City Park and Gyro Beach respectively that are closed for about five months of the year. People need them in the winter as well, but we couldn’t winterize them for that price?

9. No matter how congested our roads have become, our city’s management want thousands more cars on our streets.

Our mayor and council need to be shaken up with new ideas that are resident-friendly and environmentally friendly.

In the words of Jan Gehl, a world-renowned Danish architect and planner, the order of priorities when planning are, “first people, then space and then building”. We have been doing the reverse for too long, even ignoring the first two most of the time.

Clean house, change focus.

Don Henderson



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Agrees with moving office

Re. Victoria Richardson's letter Wants welfare office moved (Castanet, Feb. 16)

I absolutely agree with the letter that the Kelowna welfare office should be moved.

Why was it moved in the first place? Maybe put it next to the RCMP detachment (in the North End) or by the Kelowna court house (downtown).

Maybe that might be safer for people. Putting it in Rutland was a really bad choice. Crime has increased so much since it was moved to Rutland and the increase in homeless has also risen.

Take it away.

Tammy Nagy



Questions housing location

I recently attended the community outreach meeting about Trailside in Rutland.

I found the information provided interesting. Several presenters and other representatives from B.C. Housing, the City of Kelowna, and the operator presented the stats on homelessness, the reasoning and justification for the project, the Trailside model and plan and the broader plan to address homelessness in the province.

There were eight community members plus one child in attendance.

Trailside is a modular transitional housing community for elderly and, in some cases, disabled existing shelter users. The operator stated she likes a clean site, and prefers not to have the ugly grey chain-link fence. She expressed (the project) would fit in and residents and businesses might not even know it's there. They are going to put decorative wraps on the modular buildings.

This will be a transitional housing community meant to offer temporary housing and supports to transition elderly (20% of the unhoused population) and disabled shelter users to a permanent home. This community will provide not only temporary accommodation, but other services such as budget and substance use counselling and help them save money to allow a greater possibility of successfully finding a “forever” home.

When asked what the past success rate was, the operator stated around 89% do not fall back into homelessness.

There was concern from residents and business owners that the surrounding area would become a mess and drug dealers and other criminal "visitors" would be attracted to the site. The operator stated clearly that visitors would not be allowed and access in and out would be controlled.

It was also made clear the operator would only be responsible for what happens on the property, not in surrounding areas.

The question was also asked if it would be a "dry" facility (no drugs or alcohol allowed), to which the operator answered they would not be restricting substance use. As she put it, if a resident wants to enjoy a glass of wine, they are not going to say anything about it.

Another question asked was if there would be more or fewer drug dealers around the facility compared to existing supportive housing. The B.C. Housing representative stated she was speechless and (the meeting) was about providing transitional housing for people in need.

When asked why and how this site was chosen, a litany of answers related to site shape, utility infrastructure, contamination (were given) and there were back-and-forth discussions over several weeks as well as emails between B.C. Housing and City of Kelowna representatives about location options and reasons for rejections.

When pressed on why Rutland and why the same neighbourhood that already has several supportive housing developments and has fundamentally changed as a place to raise your family in this city instead of Glenmore, the Mission, East Kelowna or South Pandosy, the answer from the B.C. Housing representative was blunt. (B.C. Housing) has to put it where the city tells it can put it.

For me, there's nothing left to say.

Jeff Frank, Kelowna



Innocent until proven guilty

The recent story on Castanet regarding the wall of fame at Prospera Place (in Kelowna) highlights the problem we have as a society when it comes to how we view those who have been charged with a crime.

Something happened, of that there is no doubt. A handful of people know exactly what that was, and the rest of us don't.

The young woman in question didn't lay the charges, the Crown did and it has chosen to pursue it. Remember, Hockey Canada paid (the young woman) more than than $3 milion to keep this quiet, back when she was going to go public with her allegations.

Money is paid out every day to keep things quiet or to simply put an end to what could be a lengthy and costly process. The transfer of money doesn't determine guilt however.

The names of the accused are now public knowledge and the public are eager to have their perspective heard and I would suspect the majority are of the opinion at least some of these guys are guilty. Due process won't matter in the end. Even if they are all acquitted, their lives will never be the same.

Before you go accusing me of siding with the players, settle down. Something happened and there is going to be a reckoning but nobody knows what that will look like or who did what, so in the interest of innocent until proven guilty, we need to step back from the knee-jerk reactions that the world relies on so much and wait to see the (legal) result.

Canceling them, covering up their likenesses, burning their jerseys and whatever else we can righteously do to make ourselves feel better is not how it should work.

Many a life has been destroyed by false allegations.

Peter Haslock, West Kelowna



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