PENTICTON - With two months left in office, Mayor Garry Litke hopes to accomplish a few more things before he walks out the doors of City Hall for good.
Before he became mayor, Litke was a city councillor for eight years. Being a part of the team that created the South Okanagan Events Centre was his greatest accomplishment, he says. Not only is the centre a huge asset for the community, it also enhances quality of life, creates jobs and economic opportunities for the city, he says.
The only thing that’s missing is the connection to the convention centre, he says. Litke has been, and is currently, working with potential hotel developers because the city doesn’t have adequate accommodation for large-scale conventions and events, he says. He hopes to have a proposal locked down by the time he leaves office.
One thing that will bolster activity for the convention centre is the addition of WestJet flights to the Penticton Regional Airport, which Litke says is his proudest mayoral accomplishment. He says it is a huge opportunity for all businesses in Penticton, and believes it well help the city grow and blossom.
Even when he hangs up his mayoral hat, Litke plans to stay involved in the community, specifically working on the hospital expansion.
“I would love to continue to be a part of that development,” he says.
He currently sits on several advisory boards for the hospital expansion, which he will have to give up when his term ends, but he will find a way to be involved, he says.
But a break is much needed for the retired school teacher, husband and father. With three kids living all over the country, Litke plans to spend more time with them and his 88-year-old mother in Edmonton.
New Orleans is also on his travel list—he and his wife, Kendra, will be flying down this spring to spend some time there and really take in the culture, food and music.
As for the incoming council, Litke says they should continue to work on some of the initiatives started by previous councils, including keeping taxes under control, economic incentives, and tax breaks.
“These efforts may cost the municipality in the short term, but payback is sometimes under five years,” he says. “Then we’re sitting pretty.”
He also urges the new council to continue implementing the strategic plan for downtown, which was the focus for the outgoing council.
“I’ve been watching the downtown for 30 years and it was stagnant,” Litke says. Only in the last few years has it really started to change and improve.
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