With the upcoming election, (West Kelowna) voters should consider the past performance of present council members who created unnecessary delays in the Rose Valley water treatment plant, which has translated to at least an additional year of potential water quality advisories for those effected.
Castanet reported in a Sept. 30 article, there has been safe drinking water available less than 3.5 months of year so far in parts of West Kelowna.
West Kelowna and Peachland (both) received funding in March 2017 from senior levels of government, and while Peachland immediately undertook work on its water treatment plant—which we should note has been operational since this spring—West Kelowna delayed startup work by 18 months.
That delay was needed, in part, to create a plan to fund the water treatment plant construction that would not effect the city hall funding and would not generate a second referendum for a city hall that could fail to gain taxpayer support.
That was accomplished by hiring a new CAO who created a plan, whereby funding was not jeopardized and taxpayers were unable to object to the building of a new city hall—true democracy.
Coun. Doug Findlater’s advice to voters, in announcing in August he would not will not seek re-election, was to consider candidates who are “more fiscally responsible” in the upcoming election. He believes that will be key to ensuring money is being spent wisely with ratepayers in mind.
That brings up a few future expenses council will need to consider.
(The next) council, based on promotion by the CAO, will need to consider a recommendation for a wholesale replacement of water meters and to incorporate a pit installation for the meters (watch the Feb. 8, 2022 City if West Kelowna council webcast—8.1.2 - Amendments to Water Regulations Bylaw).
In the past, before technology advances seemed to dictate a need to upgrade equipment, electric, water and natural gas meters were rebuilt when worn out and continued their metering function at little cost to the ratepayer.
The CAO’s proposal to council is a wholesale replacement of the water meters installing the new metres in a hole/pit on your property with an easement possibly cutting concrete (driveway) if the water line is installed below it.
Lytton residents (after the wildfire) are now being told the charge for a new water meter installed in a pit will be $4,000, which is a one-time cost, to be paid at the time of their homes are rebuild.
While the costs and how the ratepayers will fund this can be debated, but it will be a large amount and will add further substantial costs to all West Kelowna water bills, which are already high.
The new city hall is another concern, as the increased space for employees will generate a large amount of new hires impacting the city’s employment and benefit expenditures. With a host of newly hired employees comes the promotion of more projects that will require even more funding from taxpayers.
With West Kelowna already having a number of projects where the final price tag was well above the costs estimated by staff, along with telephone poles in the middle of new sidewalks, we should heed Findlater’s advice from his experience as both the mayor and a councillor.
We need to elect people that responsibly spend taxpayers’ money to obtain maximum value.
T. Kinsman, West Kelowna