Penticton city councillors campaigned on the premise of “bold” and “progressive” new directions for Penticton. This hasn’t happened. Trying to be Coney Island of the north is backward.
The global shift is to ‘greening’ urban centres and mitigating impacts of climate change. Level 4 droughts are here to stay; waterslides are not tenable.
Why keep flogging tourism?
Penticton is perfect for attracting the alternative-energy industry, for both commercial and developmental ventures. In 2013 the tech industry contributed $1.02 billion to the local economy, $797 million in generated revenues and $223 million indirectly by the businesses that supply inputs to the technology sector.
Penticton already boasts:
• A net-metering program that buys back grid-tied electricity at parity — the purple line program.
• Advanced waste water treatment plant (ASHRAE Technology Award 2014, written up in Journal of Engineering and Science, and industry’s WE&T Magazine).
• Okanagan Research & Innovation Centre’s high-tech business incubator for Clean Tech and Wireless start-ups.
• Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, internationally known science and technology research centre.
• Jim Pattison Centre for Excellence (international awards for design, largest structure to attempt energy-neutral and standards of Living Building Challenge).
• Sustainable Construction Management Technology Diploma, first course of this kind ever offered in Canada.
• Vibrant agricultural community, many organic; there’s tremendous potential for growing GMO-free, organic food and developing agricultural IT tools.
• Solar and wind energy development opportunities (provincial sales tax exemptions on renewable energy equipment including solar. Waterfront Inn has 30 solar photovoltaic modules and 10 solar thermal collectors. A Summerland residence has a 40 panel tracking solar array. These will require servicing and technicians).
A great example is the City of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Local industry, business and citizens groups, worked with city council to create the Rotterdam climate change adaptation strategy. This resulted in economic upturn, creation of new jobs and long term sustainability. All development is scrutinized ensuring it fits into that framework.
Penticton has the workforce, resources and opportunity to far exceed jobs in tourism. Renewable energy, green construction, food security, water conservation/reclamation and IT development would provide year-round well-paying employment. Great economic advantage comes from leading in smart and sustainable development.
As a footnote: Remediating Ellis Creek is understandable, taking funds from expanding cycle lanes is not. Again, not progressive but backward thinking.