Wrong site for WK city hall

I have been reading articles ad infinitum on West Kelowna topics and I have held my tongue.

People have asked why I have not sent off my usual letters to the editor. Basically, I was resigned to the situation in West Kelowna. Not my circus, not my monkey.

A story in the media gently shook me out of my lethargy.

“Five years ago, West Kelowna residents turned down plans for a new city hall. A counter petition (Alternate Approval Process) drew almost 4,000 signatures,” it said. “That forced the city to hold a referendum, which was narrowly defeated. For the new city hall “scheme,” municipal manager Paul Gipps presented council with a way to do the necessary borrowing of up to $11million without putting the proposal to voters. Total project cost is currently estimated to be $18 million.”

A recent survey did not seek public views on the cost, site and size of the project because council had already made the decision to go ahead in 2020. The survey basically said: You are getting a new city hall, so what do you think we should include?

When the governance committee explored the incorporation of the Westside, the suggestion was that the eventual city hall site should be geographically central to the municipality. But this council obviously has its own opinion

The current selected location is tucked away by the Johnson Bentley swimming pool in West Kelowna (across the highway from the police station) with limited parking and access. Because of the cramped area, it was necessary to demolish a recently built skate park (A mere $400,000 worth!) and then having to spend an undisclosed amount to rebuild the skate park close by.

Many of the city staff have been working remotely during the Covid pandemic and functioned effectively using modern technology, when needed, to seamlessly communicate with colleagues.

In its latest study PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada says Canada-wide, employees want the flexibility to choose between working from home or the office. Their figures say that 27% are ready to return to the workplace, whilst a staggering 59% say they would like to work solely at home and 14% would like a mix of the two.

So there is a general belief and understanding that large offices will become more a thing of the past. Our city council is totally out of touch and cannot seem to accept that a combination of working from home and office will be our future modality.

Obviously the need to get a city hall built as their legacy has blinkered the council to the practicality of anything else. Adding the library to this site was a way to justify its necessity.

This new complex will pull more traffic to an already busy area. Walking to this location is not an option for most people and would not be a safe walking route for children.

Altogether, I believe that this whole scenario should go back to the drawing board.

Taxpayer money could be spent on more practical matters. For example;

Glenrosa road has been the recipient of almost floodlight quality street lighting and two sets of roundabouts.

Old Okanagan Highway represents a dismal boundary between West Kelowna and IR 9. Many people walk and cycle the route in near darkness. The “fireflies” that are excuses for street lighting on the West Kelowna side of the road are a disgrace. Despite dangerous conditions and past letters to the editor, nothing has been done.

In contrast, a new development on IR9 side of the road has four streetlights that create a short burst of light that merely emphasizes the darkness either side.

Meanwhile, congratulations to West Kelowna for the fact that someone found a bright bulb to light up Elliot Road south of the cemetery. It helps a lot on those moonless nights. Maybe another search might find spare bulbs for Old Okanagan Highway.

On the other side of the coin, the Wine Trail through Boucherie has an amazing number of street lights—total overkill!

If there is no funding for new bulbs, maybe the Wine Trail could spare just a few!

Heather Yeats, West Kelowna

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