There has been a lot of media attention around local government priority spending lately. Our community is in need of a track and field facility, a new art gallery, museum, public parks and greenspace, trails and environmental protection of wildlife habitat and eco-systems and, last but not least, domestic water quality and quantity.
The public and government should recognize the need to spend our tax dollars wisely, in priority sequence that best benefits our health, the natural environment and our community’s economy, culture and lifestyle.
As for the latest debates over spending and referendums, sports complex at Okanagan College for $8.5 million when we don’t have a track at the new Vernon Secondary School (a high school track could costs less than $2 million). If the college needs their own sports facility, I think the provincial government should pay for it.
The art gallery and museum both need new facilities and both want to be close to the city hall in the downtown core. Combining the facilities will enhance and support each other and cost less to build.
Our community needs to consider the health of our four main creeks (upper and lower BX creeks, Vernon Creek and Coldstream) for the sake of the fish and wildlife that depend on them, as well as the lakes that they discharge into (Swan, Okanagan, Kalamalka).
We also want more parks, greenspace and trails to encourage a healthy lifestyle. If government focuses their spending on acquisition of lands that encompasses sensitive habitat, i.e. creeks, wetlands, lakeshores, ravines, grasslands, etc., the community will have most of the parks and greenspace that it will need for decades to come.
With our continuing population growth, our need for more water for domestic and agricultural use will be more of a challenge.
Our domestic water sources need to be clean and our agriculture use needs to be efficient. If the drinking water source is not naturally suitable, we either need to find natural solutions (not simply and expensively treat and filter that water) or find a better source. As for the agricultural industry that consumes the largest percentage of available water, they need to find methods of irrigation that are more efficient and water conservative.