Sunday, July 15, 2007

John Cornelissen: Bulldozing bad business

The following appeared in The Herald and the 13 July, 2007, edition of the Western News:

I grew up in a home that was over a century old. Although heavily damaged during the Second World War, it was repaired and the building may well last another century. The motto “waste not want not,” was firmly brought home to me. It is paramount and ought to be adhered to buildings with a number of years of remaining useful life, on which replacement costs are many times its upgrading costs.

Reading Mayor Kimberley’s letter justifying bulldozing the buildings, one wonders how much credibility it should be given. He talked about doing away with the buildings as soon as it was suggested to save them and long before any analysis was made. The taxpayers have not been presented with a detailed cost-benefit analysis. For instance:

A) Why generate the $ 1.2 million to $1.5 million borrowing costs for renovation with a one per cent property tax increase while the borrowing of $ 2.5 million for the cemetery upgrade results in a 0.95 per cent tax increase?

B) Where is the off-setting factor of the income generated by the gymnasium and auditorium against the operation and maintenance cost? What about operation and maintenance cost for the new performing arts centre?

C) What will be the impact on property taxes for the estimated $30 million cost of a new performing arts centre?

D) The statement “monies for the purchase of land for a performing arts centre site would be taken out of the capital reserve fund and therefore would not require a property tax increase” is grossly misleading. It means the money is not available for other capital projects and therefore will be borrowed and become a burden on the taxpayers!

The mayor told us that the contract of the event centre that was awarded would cost the taxpayer a cup of coffee. How wrong did that statement proved to be? Are figures being twisted for the mayor’s pet projects?

I suggest we hold a reverse petition borrowing bylaw for the upgrading of the Penticton gymnasium and auditorium similar to the other reverse petitions for the wellness centre and the cemetery upgrade.

In closing the mayor talks about the safety aspect of school traffic onto Eckhardt Avenue. Why not follow through with Ed Bonthoux’s recommendation and subscribed to by a former mayor that school generated traffic ought to be directed to Jermyn Avenue.

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