Water plant costs too much

Re: Rising cost of water plant 

My, how things have changed yet remained the same. The “new” Rose Valley water treatment plant that is supposed to be built is becoming the next white elephant for West Kelowna tax payers.

When it was first approved and had a “green light” for construction the tax payers of West Kelowna were banking on federal and provincial grants to make up the financial shortfall. Most members of council and staff stated that West Kelowna had millions of dollars in reserves and along with the huge increase in water rates the cost for construction was easily attainable.

Now, fast forward, the City of West Kelowna and Council are asking for each user of the proposed system to pay another $34 year for 25 years to cover the cost of taking out a loan for this project. Why has this project ballooned to $75M – almost $25M over previous estimates?

West Kelowna's engineering department has, in my opinion, no clue how to tender a project or understand the scope of a project this size and have on numerous occasions cost tax payers of this city dearly with their mishandling of projects. They often do not inform council of their ineptitude or admit that they are in over their heads with young, inexperienced staff.  Is council still seriously considering a new city hall when they don’t have enough money to supply the municipality with clean water?

And the sneaky way that it is being approached - doing nothing means you agree to the additional yearly charge, if you oppose, fill out the form, drop it off at city hall; in my opinion people are a little busy at the moment.  We have a council that have never, and will never have the courage to critically think and question their staff about project finances.

Borrow, borrow, borrow, that is their motto - what ever happened to not overspending and saving until you can actually afford it. Oh ya, instant gratification, let the next generation pay for it. Again, just my opinion, but the city of West Kelowna is and has always has been in a financial state of flux, spending money on wants instead of needs, trying to be something it is not. Debt to asset ratio is not rocket science - can anyone say “Municipality for Sale” - bankruptcy is not that far away when you overspend.

The reality is - the water treatment facility has to be built according to IHA and health regulations - OK, I get that. Maybe council and staff should consider a reduction in salary, or cutting some of the pretty programs (flowers on roads) banners, parties, staff vehicles, what ever it takes to make up the financial shortfall. An overall 10 per cent reduction in all departments might be a start, wake up council, remember when you all took office.

When asked by the media I said “that when the new members found out what was really going on they would “.....their pants”? Well now its time to clean up the mess not make more.

Rosalind Neis

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