Penticton and South Okanagan
Lack of jobs main concern in survey
Oct 23, 2013 / 6:00 am
The most important issue facing Penticton is lack of jobs and a poor economy, according to a recent citizen survey.
According to the 2013 Citizen Survey, 47 percent of residents felt this was the case, compared to 41 per cent in 2012.
"It is a problem we are working on," said Mayor Garry Litke. "We know small business is the engine of the economy."
Other top issues in the telephone survey, conducted with a random sample of 401 residents in September, were the new patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital, at 10 percent, and the budget, fiscal responsibility and debt, also at 10 percent.
Other issues including the waterfront, population growth, affordable housing, crime and aging infrastructure were viewed as lesser concerns, with aging infrastructure, for example at 3 per cent, compared to 4 per cent in 2012.
Litke said they continue to actively address the issue of lack of jobs and poor economy.
"In order to create jobs you need to grow small business," he said. "We have been working on this for awhile for small business to get a confidence level in the city."
One sign the city is meeting with some success, is Penticton has been named among the top 25 entrepreneurial cities in Canada by the Canadian Federation of Independent Buiness and a large jump in that 2013 score has put it ahead of all other municipalities in BC.
"This CFIB report validates the city's efforts," said Litke.
Councillor Wes Hopkin said he recognizes a poor economy is of great concern to residents and that the city is listening to what they have to say.
"Ecomonic development has clearly been a serious concern in the city," he said. "But people have to recognize municipal government is limited in spurring growth, a lot relies on provincial or federal growth. What we can do as a city is do our best to remove the red tape."
While Councillor John Vassilaki said the focus must be on creating more industrial jobs, because that is where the good paying work is.
"The way the economy is across the country and the world, it is difficult to attract developers to Penticton," he said.
in terms of debt, Litke said the city has not accumulated any and is paying it down at a rapid rate.
"When it comes to the South Okanagan Events Centre, the entire complex will be paid off by 2018," he said. "So I am not sure where the citizens' concern comes from."
Hopkin said he was also a little puzzled by this being a top issue, as the city is paying the debt down.
"It could be a lack of communication on the part of the city and how we talk about our finances," he said.
In regards to the patient care tower, Litke said he was sitting on a steering committee, which is now reviewing conceptual drawings.
Basically, everyone who would be working out of the facility is being taken through looking at the plans and when that process is complete, they will go back to the architect, he said.
"We hope to have all that completed by early next year," he said. "We will then go to the government with a business case and say this is the amount of money we need to construct the hospital."
He sees construction of the hospital and creating jobs as going hand in hand.
"It will create construction jobs, and following that will bring in high paid professionals and support staff," he said.
Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News
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Penticton & Wine Country Chamber
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Town of Keremeos
School District 67 - Okanagan Skaha
School District 53 - Okanagan Similkameen
Okanagan Regional Library
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