The Skaha Lake park fiasco has become quite a polarizing issue with many young people taking to social media making slanderous remarks against the “grey heads” of this town. It is unfortunate that people have to stoop to this level or be guided by uninformed conceptions of what a waterslide park truly means for this city. As a 27 year old, apparently “grey head” at heart, these are my thoughts on this issue.
Many comments in the Penticton Facebook group refer to the need to increase job opportunities. The problem is that the waterslide park would only provide precarious employment. Yes the town is mostly tourist based, but we are talking about a business that will only be in operation for a short period of time during the year. Does this mean jobs for young people? Or will there be an increase in an already overused EI system? If it’s jobs you are worried about, young people should be more concerned with diversification and attracting industry to this town.
Although it is a bit dated, an interesting article was published in 2012 by the Globe and Mail that noted Penticton as a top 10 tourist destination in the world based on a poll conducted by the Huffington Post. Oddly enough people came to this conclusion without the presence of a waterslide, and it is fair to assume that the reasoning behind this nomination was due to our beautiful PUBLIC beachfront property and agro-tourism industry.
So if Penticton already has a budding tourist industry and is internationally recognized as a vacation destination, will a waterslide on Skaha Lake beachfront really be the marketing tool that pushes this town as the destination place to be? Speaking from personal experience I have never picked a destination to travel to because of the quality of waterslide it has to offer. Those places that are most memorable to me are the ones with natural beauty. People need to ask themselves whether this town should be marketed by its one of a kind scenery to attract tourism, or an environmentally backward venture.
If we go ahead with the long-term lease that is proposed, and for some reason (I know this may be shocking) the waterslide park turns out to be a bust, then those with the title to that land could potentially move forward with condo development. I do caution that this is just an assumption, but with the lack of clarity and quality assurance not present in the proposal, the lack of public engagement over this issue, and the Council’s clear disrespect for the democratic process, it really does put ulterior motives into question.
All that we can hope for now is that a referendum is put into place and the people of this town have a chance to exercise the right to vote. That is a major tenet of democracy, which I happen to have studied the definition of Mr. Mayor, so let’s all respect this process.