Boycotting business not the way to go

EDITORIAL

Boycotts can be an effective tool for groups to force recalcitrant businesses and governments to get with the program, but a boycott suggested by some in the Save Skaha Park camp is the wrong way to go.

Since June 29, when Penticton city council gave the green light to leasing a section of Skaha Lake Park to Trio Marine Group so they could build a waterside complex on it, along with a restaurant and upgrades to Skaha Marina, the community has been divided, with a large group opposing the deal.

No doubt city hall hoped the controversy would die down after council refused to back away from their decision and went ahead with signing the contract. But opponents of the plan also refused to go away. They’ve continued collecting signatures on their petitions and are now moving toward legal action, with donations to pay the fees.

But some are also calling for a boycott of any businesses associated with or supporting the development, prompted in part by the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce’s support for Trio Marine’s plans.

It would be hard to come up with a worse plan. Such a boycott would accomplish nothing except to divide the community further — quite an accomplishment, considering how deep the rift in community already is over the park land lease.

Boycotts have been effective tools to show a company or government the error of its ways. The 1955 Montgomery Bus boycott is a good example, and an important event in the early civil rights movements.

But the issue in this case is not about a deep societal problem like racism — it is, at its root, just a difference of opinion, and Penticton has suffered enough damage from the division.

Boycott is defined as a “punitive ban.” Are you really looking to punish friends and neighbours who run businesses for disagreeing with you?