Referendum only fair way to allow taxpayers to have proper input on fire hall, says reader

By on July 30, 2014

Dear Editor:

This letter is sent in regards to the article that appeared in the Osoyoos Times under the headline “Council reverses on fire hall referendum” and the subsequent letter by reader Derek Noske demanding that a referendum be held on this very important issue.

First of all, I would like to send kudos to Noske for his letter to the editor challenging and criticizing the decision by Town of Osoyoos council and chief administrative officer Barry Romanko’s idea to push a summer referendum aside and make a decision to go with a negative 10 per cent approval process.

I am very grateful for his excellent letter and I thought it was perfect.

Noske hits the nail right on the head when he points out that “if council is convinced this is the way to go, then it’s up to them to convince the electorate to vote yes on a referendum, not to sneak it in via the back door.”

Unfortunately, Mayor Stu Wells and councillor C. J. Rhodes then hit their thumb and not the nail by attempting to justify their undemocratic move to adopt the negative 10 per cent solution.

In any true democracy, majority rules and minority are protected.

To achieve that, we need a referendum on the proposed fire hall and it should be held as part of the November municipal elections where the majority of the electorate would then have a chance to vote yes or no.

It is going to cost over $6 million to build a new fire hall and the electorate should be given the opportunity to decide if we need this project at this time.

I was disappointed when Rhodes commented, “One of the difficulties I’m having is the fire hall being an election issue. I’m just not comfortable with that.”

What about taxpayers who have to foot the bill?

I’m also convinced the final bill will be much more than $6.6 million.

I am further disappointed with Wells’ idea when he states, “The (fire hall) issue will no doubt result in single issue candidates running for public office based solely on being for or against the fire hall.”

I disagree once again because it is not an issue over the fire hall, but an issue of a large amount of taxpayer dollars being spent on a mega fire hall that is much bigger and more expensive than we need or can afford.

We do need a new “normal” fire hall, but we don’t need a palace or castle.

I would also like to thank the Osoyoos Times for their report about council changing its mind on the referendum on a new fire hall and kudos for printing Noske’s letter on this very serious matter.

In closing, I ask our mayor and council to take my advice and treat taxpayers with full respect because we all deserve it and you owe it to local taxpayers.

I hope that you change your mind and cancel this negative 10 per cent approval process.

For the record, I will be going door-to-door all over town with a petition to get the 10 per cent and much more of eligible voters.

Council will then be obliged to hold a referendum .

By that time, you will have many, many unhappy taxpayers because of what has taken place and not listening to taxpayers.

Thank you for allowing me to write this letter on this very important issue to Osoyoos citizens and all local taxpayers.

Sy Murseli

Osoyoos, B.C. 

(Editor’s note: Sy Murseli is an Osoyoos resident who has run to win a seat on Town of Osoyoos council on more than one occasion).


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