The Penticton Hospitality Association released a statement Tuesday in regards to a BC Supreme Court Judge recently dismissing the city of Penticton's case against them.
"Throughout this whole affair, the PHA has consciously maintained a professional and dignified silence in order to rise above the ‘gamesmanship’ and have continued to work for the benefit of the community as a whole. However, now that the Supreme Court judgment has been delivered we appreciate that some comment needs to be made regarding this significant issue and, thankfully, its hugely positive outcome for the community.
As already stated, the PHA is naturally delighted that the Supreme Court of British Columbia has now struck down, in its entirety, the City of Penticton’s illegal attempts to seize control, and withhold funds, from the lawful stewardship of the PHA.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the general public and all those within the business community that have supported us throughout this long journey. Especially our legal advisors Pushor Mitchell and the team; Alfred Kempf, Brent Coyne, Ruth Antoski, Nicole Foster and others who recognized the significance and justness of the cause we have been fighting for. They have been immensely supportive.
For clarity: ‘Make no mistake that this is a ‘just decision’ that benefits everyone’.
From the very beginning of its tenure, as stewards of the 2%, the PHA has been subjected to a campaign of attrition that has served to obstruct, harass and hinder its efforts to create a vibrant and financially successful tourism sector. The City’s recent attempt to unjustly and recklessly wrest control of the 2% away from the good stewardship of the PHA has consistently flown in the face of public opinion and the will of the business community generally (as has been evidenced by the public outcry that has continued to find voice in the local and regional media). Their actions have been all the more reckless as they have jeopardized tourism marketing operations in Penticton, which whilst still in their infancy, the PHA has made an unparalleled success."
The statement goes on to say, "the City has argued that they were duty bound to protect taxpayers' money. However, their recent statement does not begin to address the financial consequences of their own actions: the significant amount of unnecessarily wasted taxpayers' dollars, considerable man hours or the millions in lost tourist revenue that could have been secured if the PHA had been able to continue its highly successful marketing operations unhindered during this wasted time period.
To be clear the accusations leveled at the PHA have been proven to be wanting or false. Additionally from the outset it is the PHA who has specifically wrested control of the 2% from the City due to the City's own lack of fiscal control and accountability, and the PHA who then went on to instigate and implement the appropriate checks and balances in order to ensure fiscal responsibiity and accountability, so that this valuable resource could benefit all of us. Not the other way around."
The statement concludes by saying, "What has been committed is either gross incompetence or worse gross misconduct, financial or otherwise, and it is now time for action. Not at some later date or through the electoral process....but today."
It then asks council these questions: "Who is specifically responsible for these ruinous actions? How and when will they be held accountable?"
Deputy Mayor Helena Konanz gave this response to the statement: "It sounds like they are very angry and I'm sure have a right to be, because they haven't been able to do their work in recent months.
From the information the province gave us regarding the hotel tax, we felt that it was our responsibility to do the checks and balances necessary to make sure the money was spent properly. Meaning we had to look at the budget, the expenses and just the paperwork we needed to look at. Obviously the judge thought otherwise."
We made a mistake, she added, we should not have brought this to court. We thought it was our responsibility, but it was not, according to the judge.
It is her hope the City can move forward in their relationship with the PHA.
According to Konanz, the City spent around $40,000 on legal fees.