City hall not a priority

To make space for the new West Kelowna city hall, the Westside Skateboard Park Society was advised there is consideration towards demolishing the skateboard park and reconstructing it within a short distance from its current location.

This park was built in 2016 as a direct result of Mason Barzilay's fundraising/lobbying for over a year and writing a submission for a Canada 150 grant for the skateboard park along with the Annette Beaudreau Amphitheatre. Valid concerns have been raised by her about wasting taxpayer money building facilities and then shortly tearing them down only to rebuild nearby.

While taxpayers and governments focus on costs, what continues to be missed with these types of projects is analysis of the impact on the environment with the initial construction, deconstruction after a few short years and then reconstruction. Cement, to create concrete, is reported to account for 8% of the world's human-caused carbon dioxide emissions with consumption rising to the point where there are now efforts to find solutions, including extracting cement from concrete to make it reusable. Iron and steel production, required for a skateboard park, also represents similar emissions, so looking at the cost consideration alone misses some important impacts on our environment that taxpayers/government should address for good decision making. Governments, at all levels, are taking little responsibility for emissions when spending taxpayer's money believing they can just tax citizens to reduce emissions.

Council attempts to hoodwink taxpayers when they skim funds into the new city hall and away from reserves then state, our high property taxes this year (4.05%) are not the result of city hall funding, but rather because of low reserves. Council ignores the fact that property taxes, well above the 1.6% inflation rate, and our increasing fees to pay for water treatment costs are coming from the same taxpayer's COVID-19 strapped wallet. Creative accounting and timing played an important role with Council's opportunity to approve the new city hall without the need for any public consultation or the risk of another referendum.

It is increasing difficult to find truth from politicians.

Any bets West Kelowna will see a large uptick in career opportunities (employees) once the new city hall has opened? Likely to be more bets on how over budget city hall will be since the city has a history of poor planning with ~$600,000 to relocate a 5 year old skateboard park!

Wine trail with power poles in the middle of sidewalks, a soccer dome at 4 times the budgeted cost, Rose Valley water treatment plant which received federal and provincial funding at the same time as Peachland's water treatment plant, but will not be functional of at least a full year later because of an initial 18 month delay leaving the funding in jeopardy. Perhaps planned so reserves would not be used for the municipal share of the water treatment plan but, for a new city hall!

Tom Kinsman, West Kelowna

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