Why is our district council not listening to Hope citizens? It seems they are not willing to hold proper public consultation on issues. This could be done despite COVID perhaps in Memorial Park with speakers using a microphone from the bandshell or in the Legion with masks. Are they afraid the public may agree with us on the Station House move to Water Avenue? How can they ignore over 1,100 signed support letters and 2,700 petition signatures? Hope’s population is only 6,500 people with approximately 4,400 eligible voters. Do the math.
Our council is shortsighted in its decision to reject the Station House as the new Info Centre/Museum on Water Avenue. They have also rejected significant funding and heritage restoration expertise that was offered by the Provincial Heritage Branch. By repealing its own heritage bylaw, they have taken away the opportunity for heritage grant funding to move and restore the building and ongoing maintenance costs also being covered by heritage grant funds. Council repealing its own heritage bylaw to specifically demolish the Station House shows that council does not have a finger on the pulse of the wishes of its citizens.
As I see it, there are many other things wrong in the district hall:
• District employees are overpaid. For example, compare the salary of the district chief administrative officer at $173,000 per in a town with 6,500 people and B.C.’s premier who makes $211,000 in a province with 5.1 million people.
• It also appears that the district CAO is running the district, not our mayor and council.
• 419 Yale St. ( across from the high school) is a three-storey eyesore in the existing neighbourhood, looming above the single-storey houses surrounding it. Who approved this? It is the talk of the town and people are stunned.
• Council wants to bring big city ideas to small town Hope. For example, new district hall, fire hall, etc. The fees for this consultant’s plan cost us $60,000. This same consultant rated all of Hope’s municipal buildings in less than fair condition, I ask you, what’s wrong with them? Who wants to pay the increased taxes for this planned $19.2 million project? I sure don’t.
• Hope streets have been in bad need of repair for years, but only Band-Aid repair has happened. I am grateful for this, but it is definitely not good enough.
• How does one of our councillors live in another province and show that he still has a vested interest in our town? Fortunately for him the meetings have been via Zoom until recently. Shouldn’t he step down when he has moved away?
Now the latest misinformation they are spreading is that they have “been served.” This is such a crock. There has been a request filed for a judicial review of the processes used by council to repeal the Heritage Bylaw. They are most certainly not being sued. Another example of incorrect procedure would be the council’s recent attempt to create the new delegation bylaw that would have limited delegations to a one-time presentation regarding any issue. How is this a part of a democratic process? Fortunately, this bylaw was not passed. But I feel this is taking away our right to freedom of speech. They should be listening to dialogue, not stifling it. How dare they? When we elect these seven people we put our trust in them to make good decisions and listen to our voices. They seem to be failing in this regard.
I have enjoyed living in Hope for 67 years but I am not happy with the direction this council is going. If you feel the same, I implore you to call your Mayor and Councillors and ask them these same questions.