Hiring a city prosecutor and adding more RCMP officers are among the ideas up for discussion at Penticton city council this week as councillors bring forward the proposals they hope will be included in 2020 budget deliberations.
Here are some of the ideas Penticton city councillors would like to have on the budget agenda.
More Police Resources
Councillor Katie Robinson would like staff to look into adding RCMP resources to next year’s budget.
Her motion said the aim would be to ” address issues arising due to” the nearby Okanagan Correctional Centre and the end of Greyhound bus routes in Western Canada. When Greyhound ended service in Western Canada, questions were raised about how newly released inmates would get home.
At the time, the province said inmates were given taxi vouchers, bus tickets or driven to their home or “to another location that is considered reasonable or necessary, such as a treatment centre.”
The councillor’s idea of boosting the police budget comes as the RCMP is expected to ask for five new Penticton officers.
Penticton’s mayor is suggesting the city look into adding a city prosecutor during next year’s budget discussions. His motion suggests it would improve safety in the city.
Staff says a newly formed committee is expected to review how hiring a local government prosecutor has worked for other B.C. municipalities.
Reducing Ironman Cost to Taxpayers
Councillor Frank Regehr would like to see the city investigate options other than tax increases to help pay for the city’s sponsorship of the Ironman race, which will be returning to Penticton in August 2020.
Regehr’s motion suggests new revenue sources will minimize any tax increases needed to pay for the race sponsorship.
Many of the suggestions from city staff of the possible new revenue streams involve parking, including: removing free parking for the first hour downtown, increasing parking rates. and expanding the areas where drivers have to pay for parking.
City staff point out that $200,000 in private sponsorship of the event will also help offset any cost to taxpayers.
In announcing the race’s return to Penticton, the city predicted it would have an economic impact of between $10 and $15 million annually.
Lake-to-Lake Bike Route
Two councillors are looking for support for the creation of a biking corridor between Okanagan and Skaha lakes.
It is a project city staff said would need a $500,000 budget in 2020 just for the design and preliminary construction.
More money would be needed to finish the project in future years and staff are cautioning that “while the lake-to-lake bike route is a popular capital project … there are many other critical capital projects required to renew city assets and maintain existing service levels.”
Staff did point out, however, that provincial grants could offset the cost of the bike trail.
These are a handful of the twenty different proposals for next years budget that Penticton council will discuss on Tuesday. Another popular theme includes the revitalization and beautification of various areas of the city.
—With files from Shelby Thom and Doyle Potenteau