PENTICTON - The Penticton Hospitality Association plans to move forward with a positive attitude now that the lawsuit is over between the association and the city, but directors are not impressed with how the city dealt with the matter.
In a press release, association directors said the city has been out to get them since the beginning and the city’s “unjust” and “reckless” behaviour to control the hotel tax has resulted in an economic loss for the city and the tourism sector.
The hit tourism has taken is “unacceptable,” they said.
“The catalogue of misinformation actively peddled by the city’s elected representatives, employees and advisors have been at the least a gross distortion of the facts and at worse completely empty.”
Action needs to happen now, not during the electoral process or at a later date, the association said. Directors called on City council to answer “who is specifically responsible for these ruinous actions?” and “how (and when) will they be held accountable?”
Wes Hopkin, who resigned as councillor last week but was very involved in the conflict at hand said the decision to take action was made solely by council and staff and city workers should not be blamed.
Hopkin supported taking legal action against the association and said he would make the same decision again if he was given the same information. The City tried to work with the association through mediation sessions about the concerns but after almost a year of trying to work things out without success, the city decided to take legal action, he said.
The best thing for the tourism industry would be to have one organization in control of tourism operations, said Hopkin, who, along with the rest of council has always supported this goal.
This model was in effect when Tourism Penticton was founded in 2012. The society represented the entire tourism industry and the majority of board seats went to those in the hospitality sector.
Hopkin also said the constitution with Tourism Penticton guaranteed "that in order to approve using HRT funds a majority of those accommodation directors would have to agree in addition to gaining the approval of a majority of the whole board."
But, according to him, the association didn’t want to work Tourism Penticton, who’s executive director recently said he wants Tourism Penticton to have a working relationship with the hospitality association.
The association plans to move forward and work strategically with existing programs “to ensure the best return on investment, financial or otherwise,” said Tim Hodgkinson, the association’s director via email. “We will not be looking to write one big cheque for a project simply because we have additional funds that have accumulated whilst the City has been sitting on the money.”
As for their relationship with the city, Hodgkinson said the city should be held accountable for their actions, however it serves no purpose to hold grudges and it is therefore in both parties best interests to work together moving forward.
The city also plans to move forward with the relationship while the association remains under contract with the City for another few years, said Mayor Garry Litke in an earlier interview.
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