PENTICTON C.A.O. sounds the alarm…

Just reading an article about the South Okanagan Economy in a Penticton paper (not the one that just laid off a bunch of their reporters)

According to the city’s CAO Annette Antoniak, despite two years of dramatic budgeting decisions by city council Penticton is facing growing operating costs.

Antoniak estimated next year the city is facing a deficit of approximately $2 million. A daunting reality, considering the city recently conducted a core services review which resulted in the implementation of most of the report’s 64 recommendations, including the elimination of 30 jobs over a two-year span.

“That is a reduction of 30 per cent of the management team and six per cent of the (CUPE) staff,” Antoniak said. “We have managed to maintain the core programs that the city offers residents through this major restructuring.”

But, stressed Antoniak, there is little development currently occurring.

Indeed, according to city manager of planning Anthony Haddad, as of May 31 the year-to-date value of construction in Penticton was only about $13.3 million, down from roughly $54 million by the same date last year.

Haddad said the 2011 depressed numbers are part of a longer trend

Haddad said Penticton has seen a virtual freeze in larger project starts such as multi-storey apartment buildings or condos.

“The market is full of multi-family developments at the moment which are either under construction or built but unoccupied or unsold,” he said. “So until they disappear we probably won’t see some multi-family developments come in the door.”

Market experts have told him the situation could remain as the status quo for up to three to five years, he said.

Meanwhile, tourism is doing very well, lots of winery visitors, golfers, fruit stand shopping and strolling the farmers markets in Penticton and Summerland.  Summerland has one sign on the highway to entice hiway tourist traffic…unfortunately, it promotes one item, one morning a week…believe me, there ARE more reasons to not drive by this tourist town than one morning a week.

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