Penticton City Council’s Strange Fiscal Policies

On April 12th, 2014 the City of Penticton excitedly announced that¬†a long awaited deal with WestJet to provide air service between Calgary and Penticton has been secured with flights to start in October (Penticton Herald). However this new service could cost the citizens plenty because the City is on the hook for a major promotional campaign projected to cost $200,000 (the city hopes others will chip in, but didn’t include these others in the negotiations) and WestJet wants its landing fees paid for as well which costs $300/flight adding another $109,500 a year. If every flight is filled (needing 28,470 flyers), this subsidy amounts to more than ten [$10] dollars a passenger. Not that much you say? Well, is City Council going to give the same to those who fly Air Canada? And there is an irony to all this: the same City Council dragged its feet on making a deal with the local Junior hockey team (Penticton Vees) regarding the use of the big arena. The Vees drew more than twice as many people as WestJet can hope to sell tickets to — and the subsidy they want was far less (and the people attracted to the rink include many who can never hope to make use of the WestJet service). Here’s the fundamental question: Is it not time for municipal governments to get out of subsidizing businesses and letting the markets play out? Have we, as a society, become too reliant on our own desire for “bread & circuses” that we fail to realize that it’s coming out of our own pockets? And then we complain of high taxes?