To the editor:
The city has failed to address public costs for this visitor centre project and has not reported them in a comprehensive and detailed manner.
My public cost estimates for the project total $12 million, which includes:
• $4 million estimate to replace downtown waterfront parkland for public uses over the next 29 years.
• $4.5 million hidden and unspecified within the city’s Kerry Park upgrade planning budget which will be paid from taxation.
• $0.5 million for sewer, water and electrical servicing the building site (actual city 2017 budget allocation) which will be paid from taxation.
• $1 million estimate for contaminated soil testing and removal, soil stability testing and protection of lake drinking water supply (city cost documents unavailable). Planned works budget hidden within either parks or real estate division operating budgets under generic headings.
• $1 million estimate for design and rebuilding the seawall to support the building (city cost documents unavailable). Planned works budget hidden within either parks or real estate division operating budgets under generic headings.
• $1 million estimate to demolish, remove and replace the existing boat ramp elsewhere on the lake (city cost documents unavailable). Planned works budget hidden within either parks or real estate division operating budgets under generic headings.
The bottom line is the city is playing by its own rules. It does not want the public involved. If it did, it would consolidate the public costs and present them for public review prior to the public hearing. They did not do this and the blame should fall squarely on Coun. Gail Given who dropped the ball by not requesting this information from either Tourism Kelowna or from city staff. Clearly, she failed to do her job as the taxpayers’ watchdog siting on the Tourism Kelowna Board.
I will stick to this estimate until the city proves otherwise. Until then, the media should scream to high heaven demanding a full and a complete public cost and benefit disclosure from the city for this project.
It is important to note the city has no justifiable public cost recovery plan for this project other than receiving a nominal 29-year lease payment, the amount of which was not presented in the staff report filed Jan. 19 for the regular meeting following the public hearing. It’s a heck of deal for Tourism Kelowna’s 320 private company members. Once again, taxpayers are forced to subsidize the private sector.
Richard Drinnan, Kelowna