Society responds

Greater Vernon Governance Society reacts to Coldstream ratepayers Association letter

Re: the Jan. 29 letter to the editor from Steve Heeren, of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association.

Mr. Heeren claims in his letter that he, “had informed one board director (of the Greater Vernon Governance Society), who lives in Coldstream, that he was welcome to attend, along with the others, to ask questions and provide information which he thought our rRatepayers) members needed to know.”

Well Mr. Heeren, what you actually said was totally different.  And Councillor Gyula Kiss, in writing, told the society not to attend.

After the governance society announced it had signatures to its petition from 11 per cent (816) of eligible Coldstream voters, Kiss announced on his Internet blog that a Coldstream Ratepayers Association meeting would be held Jan. 9.

The governance society asked Kiss if it was appropriate for our members to attend and provide information and answer questions.

The e-mail response from Kiss, Dec. 17 stated, “I don’t think your association’s presence (the society) would be advisable. If you wish to disseminate your views you should call a meeting of your own at your association’s expense and convince people of your views. Wasting time and money of the ratepayers meeting would not be in the interest of their organization. Your views received ample coverage from the sympathetic media, thus people are well aware of your views.”

So the same question was put to Mr. Heeren. On Dec. 23, his e-mail stated: “It is not the policy of the Coldstream Ratepayers Association to entertain the appearance of external delegations to our meeting.”

On Jan. 8, Mr. Heeren was quoted in The Morning Star as saying, “We have such a good council now that I personally don’t feel that we need a watchdog group at this time to watch out for the public interest.”

Heeren went on to say that the actions of the governance society have “churned us into action” and this is “potentially a fighting issue.”

Only after 816 eligible Coldstream taxpayers asked to have a current study completed by a non-biased third party, does Mr. Heeren’s “watchdog” group churn into action?

The society thought the ratepayers and all Coldstream taxpayers would want to know the facts regarding why costs in the area (including Coldstream) have increased at a far more rapid pace than population growth and inflation.

And subsequently, is there a more economical and efficient way to govern the area?

A large number of citizens seemingly want to be informed by a non-biased third party to make the decision at the ballot box.

Mr. Heeren and Mr. Kiss, the ratepayers (all 60 of them) and Coldstream council seem to want no part of the process.

Why? Perhaps the answer lies in the indisputable fact that 816 Coldstream residents signed a petition in favour of having the question asked and both the ratepayers and council are afraid of what the answer might be.

Bruce Shepherd, on behalf of the Greater Vernon

Governance Society