Editorial: Spending our tax dollars

What is city hall’s role in promoting the downtown core?

Well, that was fast.

Just a week after the Downtown Penticton Association told city council they wanted taxpayer dollars for the various events they put on throughout the year, the two groups have issued a joint statement.

Starting this summer, it reads, a series of events run by the Downtown Penticton Association will now be operated by the city, including Canada Day, B.C. Day and the Santa Parade.

That’s it. No public consultation or input, none of the extended studies that city hall seems to love, and not even the staff report promised for the March 19 council meeting. Nor has there been an open vote by council approving the move.

The speed of this memo showing up might suggest to some that the negotiations had been going on behind closed doors before the DPA brought their request to council’s March 5 committee of the whole meeting.

There is no question these events benefit, and are enjoyed by, all the residents of Penticton.

But the DPA didn’t initiate the events out of the goodness of its heart. The reason they are all held downtown, rather than in Penticton’s larger or more accessible parks, is that first and foremost, they are intended to draw people downtown, and raise awareness about the businesses located there

In other words, these events are primarily a benefit to downtown. The question is, then, should taxpayer dollars be funding them?

The city, of course, also has a responsibility to support one of the city’s major business district, and if the cost is becoming onerous for the DPA, perhaps partial funding could have been arranged.

But the major responsibility of supporting downtown businesses, including events, should remain in the hands of the DPA, whose mandate that is. Enough taxpayer dollars go into downtown already, including the ongoing street improvements on Main and Martin Streets.

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