Letters to the Editor: October 25

Thanks for tickets; Comments on past councillors; Yes to AAP; No to AAP; Debt and Democracy

Thanks for the tickets

I was the very lucky recipient of two tickets from the Cranbrook Townsman to see the “Class of 59” concert which took place at the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook on Monday Oct. 17, 2016. I am writing to thank you for being the media sponsor for this concert and to express my sincere appreciation for the tickets. My husband and I had a wonderful time and greatly enjoyed the concert! The musicians were fabulous! What a wonderful event – thank you so much!

Kind regards,

Jeanna Simkins, Kimberley

Comments on past councillors

In reference to the “Mayor decries AAP ‘misinformation’ campaign story in the Oct. 21 Townsman, I would suggest Mayor Lee Pratt should engage his brain before he makes anymore potentially libelous comments.

For starters, I would like to state it’s true that I was a councillor in the administration preceding Mayor Pratt’s, but I categorically state that contrary to Mayor Pratt’s misleading innuendo in the above story, I’m not part of a “group of individuals,” including, as the mayor states, “some previous councillors,” that have been “actively petitioning residents door to door” to sign the petition opposing the City’s $10 million loan bylaw. In saying that, the mayor has defamed me and all the other councillors that haven’t participated in the petitioning group and we are legally entitled to sue.

And in terms of “misinformation,” the mayor should take a good look at the guy in the mirror that claimed the 2013 council I served on raised property taxes 5.77 per cent. In fact, our council approved a 3.95 property tax increase in 2013 which is almost two per cent (1.82) less than the mayor claimed. Was that another attempt to defame the previous council or is the mayor unable to count?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a mayor that just stuck to the facts in this difficult argument over whether the City should borrow $10 million instead of a mayor trying to spin the issue with “misinformation” to befuddle the voters. I think Mayor Pratt owes an apology to all the councillors, prior to his term, that have not participated in the petition campaign and an apology for attempting to mislead the voters of Cranbrook.

Gerry Warner, Cranbrook

Supporting Council’s plan

As a Cranbrook business and property owner I support the initiative to borrow $10 million to expand the road revitalization program and I commend the current Mayor and Council for having the fortitude to put forward this initiative in spite of the predictable resistance.

I constantly hear that government should be run more like a business. In business you hire strong managers and then rely on them to make good decisions. A well run business constantly keeps it’s assets in good repair knowing that it’s a false economy to put-off repairs simply to balance the budget. If management continuously pushes back on repairs, at some point in time the need comes to bite-the-bullet or the infrastructure simply collapses.

This is what has happened here in Cranbrook. For years previous councils have let the road infrastructure deteriorate in the name of a balanced budget.

There is no doubt that $10 million is a substantial commitment. However, to put this into perspective, the cities total annual revenue is approximately $45 million, so $10 million represents a ratio of 22 per cent of annual revenue. This is equivalent to a family with an income of $75,000 spending $16,500 to buy a new home and amortizing it over 20 years. Certainly not a financial stretch.

The is not frivolous spending, it is long over-due necessary spending.

For years the common complaint from both residence and visitors has been the terrible condition of our roads. Yet, when the new Mayor and Council step up to the plate and propose a plan to properly repair the crumbling road infrastructure, they receive resistance.

I would point out that improving the road infrastructure was one of the key campaign promises of Mayor Pratt and other councilors. This is why we elected them. Why then is there now resistance to them doing what they openly proposed during the election?

Let’s let Mayor Pratt and Council do what we elected them to do, to evaluate the information at their disposal and make an informed decision based on the facts.

Bill Sanderman, Cranbrook

Say no to AAP

If the city borrows $10 million to upgrade Cranbrook roads and then we the taxpayers will collectively pay back approximately $30 million on the loan. So for $30 million Cranbrook gets $10 million worth of work. Is that a good use of our money? Why does the City not use the $4.1 million (in Cranbrook’s Budget) to leverage about $19 million from the Federal/Provincial infrastructure fund at zero cost to the taxpayers? That way we would get approximately $23 million worth of infrastructure work at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Under former Mayor Priest, his council decided upon the concept of a one per cent tax increase annually to be dedicated to road infrastructure and not having taxpayers pay money for interest on loans. This council has decided to not only keep that one per cent dedicated road tax increase, but now they want to borrow millions and permit Cranbrook taxpayers to pay mega millions in interest. Talk about having your cake and eating it as well.

Say NO to AAP before October 31, 2016.

Larry Hall, Cranbrook

Debt and Democracy

As a property owner I am affected by the City’s primary mechanism for raising money: property taxes. As a citizen, I’m concerned about the democratic practices which we all depend on for accountable and transparent governance. The current City initiative to obtain our approval to borrow $10 million, repayable over 20 years to proceed with intensive road work in a 2-year period, doesn’t meet the democratic or fiscal smell tests, and has the potential to boost property taxes far into the future.

The process the City is using to obtain support consists of property owners submitting a form indicating if they disapprove of the proposed debt. But most folks just don’t bother participating in these kinds of ballots. The City has no problem with this: it plans to count non-responses as affirmative responses. That means if you don’t vote, you get counted as a ‘yes’ vote. If this were a commercial practice, it would be negative billing – now banned. As a democratic practice, that’s right up there with registering dead people to vote. The Mayor’s response to citizens opposing this debt initiative has been to denigrate them as rumour-mongers, and offer folks who have voted ‘no’ a chance to change their votes. What kind of banana republic operates like this?

The current City budget holds 1% annually for regular road maintenance. Mayor and Council figure on boosting this by an additional 2.1% per year for 20 years. Thus, the road budget more than doubles.

The current Council likes to present itself as fiscally responsible. Imagine the campaign slogans in future elections. Cranbrook will be in debt. Regrettably, time to boost property taxes, and cut “frivolous spending”. Roads are important, but there are a lot of community needs, like water, sewer, safety and culture, that are equally important. We’ll be in hock to these particular roads for about 7 council lifetimes if the 20 year repayment schedule holds. Future councils will be fiscally and politically hamstrung by this one decision now.

Meanwhile, the federal government is preparing to unleash billions of dollars for infrastructure projects across the country. Those are our tax dollars too. You’d think the City’s finest would be working with the local MP on applications to get a piece of the infrastructure pie for Cranbrook instead of driving us into long-term debt. Council should put this problematic borrowing initiative to a referendum to test the support in town.

Joyce Green, Cranbrook

Tankers, barges, cruise ships

Re: Petroleum panic a barge too far (B.C. Views, Oct. 19).

I read Tom Fletcher’s articles regularly and agree with most of his positions, but I have one pet peeve regarding the unrealistic opposition to the completion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

It is true that the tanker traffic out of Vancouver harbour would increase but I believe that there has not been one accident all the years that tankers have been leaving this terminal for the high seas. My problem is that hundreds of cruise ships leave Vancouver harbour every year and have many many thousands of litres of bunker “C” fuel in their holds, but everyone seems to think this is perfectly okay and does not pose a problem.

I assume that the cruise ships are all double-hulled, as are of course all the tankers that would carry crude oil from the terminal to the ocean. If they are not all doubled-hulled, this would present an even greater danger to the environment than the crude oil tankers that are all double-hulled and very carefully escorted out of Vancouver harbour by tugs.

E.G. Compton, P. Eng, Courtenay