An unfortunate pattern

Resident challenges decisions made by city hall and the regional district

I see in some promotional material for the twinning of Kal Tire Place that lands to the west of the present facility are currently unavailable.

Underlying this bland statement is a way of conducting the public’s business that is truly sad.

For years, many politicians and municipal administrators in the Greater Vernon area have operated on the basis that kicking the can down the road is a perfectly respectable way of dealing with the area’s issues and needs.

Twinning to the west of Kal Tire Place may or may not be the best solution, but the reason the lands to the west are unavailable is not due to some unforeseen and unassailable act of God.

The land is unavailable because a group of local officials decided they would rather not conclude the outstanding legal issues that began in 2010 with the Okanagan Equestrian Society.

In fact, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the City of Vernon agreed in February of 2013 to put the whole matter on hold because the city and the region were preoccupied with other matters.

It was only in 2015 that Vernon city council woke up to the need to resolve the matter. By then it was too late.

The same thing is happening with respect to the western bypass. In August of this year, most members of Vernon city council voted against adding a site-specific western bypass to the city’s 25-year master transportation plan.

Too risky a decision: punt it.

Some councillors worried about property values, and others said we shouldn’t identify the route before we need it.

Really? Is it really in the best interests of Greater Vernon to wait until time has eliminated choices or made routing options orders-of-magnitude more costly for future taxpayers?

I don’t think so.

Those who believe that we needn’t plan for the long-term have only to look at the mess with the master water plan.

Over many decades, a variety of special interests have been accommodated by local officials and municipal politicians only too anxious to avoid conflict while dealing with day-to-day problems.

Poor decisions, combined with a reluctance to make decisions at all, have been allowed to pile up, one on top of another, because we have been led to believe that good enough is fine for Greater Vernon.

We’re told we can’t expect to do what’s best for the future of our community on the water issue because the baggage of the past weighs too heavily. Just accept that and move on down whatever suboptimal pathway is available, they say.

So, we see a pattern here. A racetrack. A bypass. A water system. All too often, our municipal politicians settle for the expedient, short-term decision.

Better yet, they happily make no decision, failing to see that not making a decision today is, in effect, making a decision that will have consequences in later years.

What we need, indeed, what we should be demanding, are local politicians who see planning for the long-term benefit of Greater Vernon as a priority and who are held accountable for the futurity of decisions they make today.

 

Roy A. Derrick

Vernon