Letters to the Editor: January 15

Secret Deer Cull; Destination Marketing; Unwise, unprecedented remarks; Implausible numbers

Secret Deer Cull

Say it ain’t so, Cranbrook City Hall!

I still have difficulty believing that mayor, city council and CAO would approve a clandestine deer cull (kill) in-camera without the taxpayers knowledge while telling the public they were going to translocate deer instead of killing them. Then carry out the cull spending taxpayers’ money doing it — and at the same time — accept plaudits from the many opposed to the cull including the Animal Alliance of Canada who offered to donate $10,000 to the translocation program.

Then when their sleazy, deceitful act was exposed in a video — yes, a You Tube video! — by the Animal Rights people and questioned by the media they stick their haughty noses in the air and say they don’t discuss sordid deeds like this in the media! But unless the sun has started rising in the west and setting in the east this is apparently what they did. And once again Cranbrook’s name has been darkened from coast to coast to coast.

In his play Hamlet, Shakespeare says “something is rotten in the state of Demark.” Well, I’m going to update the Bard and say unequivocally that “something is rotten at Cranbrook City Hall” and it’s time these representatives of the people fessed up.

And oh yes, I have special knowledge of this situation and know how difficult an issue the deer situation is because I was a City councillor myself in the previous administration and foolishly made the same mistake myself of approving a deer cull in camera without telling the people. But when our council got caught in the act, I admitted what we had done, apologized to the public and condemned council for what it had done starting with myself first. Never again, I said and it didn’t happen again during that council’s term. Instead we did surveys and studied the problem which didn’t do a hell of a lot of good either. But at least we didn’t hide behind the public’s back.

So I challenge this council, the mayor and the CAO to do the right thing and apologize publically to the citizens of Cranbrook for your perfidy. In the circumstances, it’s the least you can do.

Gerry Warner/Cranbrook

Destination Marketing

Response to letter “Destination Marketing,” Townsman, Jan. 11:

Ironic, isn’t it? We have just had a push by entrepreneurial citizens (www.cranbrookcity.com) to counter the Lonely Planet description that Cranbrook is a dull place. Yet we still have some amongst us who wonder what we have going for us.

It is true, that as a hotelier I signed on the dotted line to collect a Municipal three  per cent hotel tax. My reasons for doing so are based on the fact that for the past three years we have been meeting with like-minded community stakeholders to formulate an action/business plan on how we can effectively market our community. Yes, the golf, the biking, the mountains and the sunshine are all exceptional, but how do we convey that to a larger audience?

By having a base pool of money, we are able to create a sustainable marketing organization (called a DMO). We are one of the last B.C. communities to implement this. The most effective model to date, has been to create a non-profit society with an industry board to oversee the implementation of the business plan. I, along with others in our community have donated our time to sit on this board.

As to the question, is this tax mandatory? Your resort fee in Niagara/Vegas? Property collected and you may or may not be successful in having it removed. A property applied Destination Marketing Fee? You can ask to remove it. This Municipal Hotel Tax is government managed and non-negotiable.

The list of recreational opportunities presently available in and around Cranbrook is bottomless, and the goal is to reach out to visitors, so that they may also know it.

George Freitag, Owner/Elizabeth Lake Lodge

Unwise, unprecedented

The October 19th 2015 federal election produced a political sea-change in Canada:  the ruling Conservatives became the Official Opposition, the former Official Opposition and temporarily first-place polling New Democrats moved to third-party status in the House of Commons, and the formerly third-place Liberals now have a majority government.  There are a number of lessons to be learned from the politics leading up to the election, during it, and subsequently.  Here are three lessons not evidently learned by Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt.  First, politics change through democratic elections.  Second, mayors must work with the MPs and MLAs who are elected, and with elected governments.  Third:  in the discharge of municipal duties, it is preferable for mayors to be publicly non-partisan.

Mayors are heads of municipal governments, which in turn, constitutionally, are creatures of provincial governments.  Yet municipalities, which are responsible for and to a majority of citizens for essential services, have limited fundraising capacity and thus rely on both provincial and federal governments for their budgetary needs.  Municipal governments, particularly mayors, must work with governments of all political stripes in order to advance the interests of their communities.

In this context, Pratt’s public comments suggesting that the outcome of the federal election in Kootenay Columbia – won by New Democrat Wayne Stetski – was bad for the riding, and that former Conservative MP David Wilks would have served the riding better; and further, that Stetski’s election may negatively impact infrastructure funding – was both unwise and unprecedented. In an interview with Cranbrook radio The Drive 102.9 on October 20th, Pratt said “the riding would be better represented by Wilks” and “I think the citizens of the Columbia-Kootenay riding have done themselves a big disservice”.  (This item Mayor calls Conservative loss a “disservice” to Cranbrook may be accessed at http://thedrivefm.ca/mayor-calls-conservative-loss-a-disservice-to-cranbrook/)

It is common knowledge that Pratt has personal partisan preferences.  Most of us do.  But to allow those to so compromise his political judgment that he publicly dissed the new MP and the voters of Kootenay-Columbia is unfortunate.  His duty to Cranbrook requires him to work with the MP and the MLA chosen by citizens in general elections.  It requires him to work with elected governments whether or not they are his personal political choice.  His comments should be retracted in as public a manner as they were made.  And if he cannot bring himself to work with the NDP MP on Cranbrook’s issues, he should resign in favour of someone who can.

Joyce Green, Jim Johnson/Cranbrook

Implausible numbers

It is deplorable that in a country as rich as Canada, food banks exist. In Kimberley and the surrounding rural area (RDEK Area E) the Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank (KHHFB) addresses the needs through the donations of individual citizens and local businesses and the support of dedicated volunteers. In December and January two articles appeared in the Daily Bulletin regarding the distribution of hampers in 2015 by the KHHFB. The first indicated that 1,500 food hampers had been distributed assisting 3,600 people including 1,500 children. The second was more precise indicating that 1,458 hampers had been distributed assisting 3,431 people (2,064 adults and 1,367 children).

According to the 2011 census there were 8,286 permanent residents and 4,470 residences in Area E. In September 2015, there were 1,136 students enrolled in K-12 education (public, independent, distance and international). On a pro-rated basis the pre-school population is probably around 450. So the total number of children is likely no more than 1,600. If the numbers in these articles are taken at face value, in 2015 the KHHFB provided hampers to approximately 30% of the adults, 45% of the households, and 85% of the children in Area E. These numbers are just not plausible. Likely the KHHFB counts people every time they use the food bank.  So a person benefiting from a hamper ten times during the year would be counted as ten separate beneficiaries.

The statistics contained in these articles are misleading in terms of the number of different individuals requiring assistance and create a false impression of the extent of poverty in our community. A more realistic picture of those needing assistance might be obtained by multiplying the number of Christmas hampers (177) by the average number of people receiving each hamper throughout the year (3,431/1,458 = 2.35). This calculation suggests that the beneficiaries might be around 416, and that, at any given time, may be closer to 5% of the total population including a little more than 1% of the children.

It is not my intent to downplay the seriousness of poverty in our community or to denigrate the contributions of the donors or the volunteers. I am also not suggesting that we hide or minimize our challenges.  I am concerned that publicizing misleading information about our community is counterproductive to our community’s efforts to market Kimberley as “A Great Place to Be”.

Bob Johnstone/Kimberley