Those opposing the use of leased parkland for a commercial waterslide business at Skaha Lake Park in Penticton have expressed concern over city council’s lack of communication on this issue.
At the same time, some city councillors have expressed concern about “misinformation” circulating among various concerned citizens. So, which came first, miscommunication, or misinformation? Since the electorate have no knowledge of the use of any taxpayer funds unless council provides information, it’s quite obvious how misinformation on the park issue
occurred. It’s simply unacceptable for council to now blame the public for being misinformed.
The Penticton Herald has provided editorials, letters and updates on a regular basis, with a recent three-page spread on this issue.
In the Aug. 18 publication, Coun. Tarik Sayeed criticized The Herald for “instigating a news story”.
Clearly, The Herald did not create or instigate this news story. City Council instigated the news stories by failing to adequately communicate with the public on their plans of the past two years and for failing to offer a referendum on this decision. The same councillor also complained, “we wished we received the set of questions (from The Herald) before the second rally occurred…not after the decision is already made.”
It’s common knowledge that anyone can write a letter of opinion to the paper, including elected officials. Each city council member has had the same opportunity as the citizens of Penticton to provide their thoughts and opinions to local newspapers.
However, according to The Herald staff, council members chose not to contribute until they were specifically asked to do so. The City of Penticton could have utilized different forms of print and social media as a method of informing the public throughout their process. It would have been highly beneficial to readers if councillors had provided their personal views on this issue from the outset. If council had been proactive rather than waiting for taxpayers to demand answers, there would be less discord and divisiveness in our community.
Council members must have been aware of past contentious parkland issues and outcomes. Therefore, as politicians, they should have had the foresight to provide appropriate communication and ample time to engage the community in discussions prior to making a decision of this magnitude.
The fractured relationship between many Penticton taxpayers and city council over the parkland lease issue may result in long-term mistrust of council. A referendum would have settled this issue democratically. Our elected officials have a lot of damage control to do to regain any level of trust and confidence with those opposing their decision.