Deal with the waterslide issue

The fate of Skaha Park and the clash between city council and citizens against this project is taking a great toll on our community.

Over the years there has been several controversial projects (KVR trail through Rod King’s property, Munson Mountain ball park) that has sparked intense debate but none with the vitriolic tone this episode has sparked.

Now there are some who wish to boycott businesses (as if it isn’t challenging enough to make a living in this town) and the papers are full of angry letters abusing our elected officials. The proponents are dug in and it looks like we are in for a protracted dispute.

The time has come for us as a community to get together and work this thing out. South Africa did it, as did Northern Ireland. Maybe we can too.

I remember reading about how the B.C. teachers strike was brought to an end last year. The two parties distrusted each other so much that even the great Vince Ready couldn’t forge an agreement.

The breakthrough happened when Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, convened a meeting which brought the premier face to face with the head of the teachers union. These two had never met face to face. There was no trust between these groups and it was Mr. Yussuff’s skill that rebuilt this trust and got a deal done over the course of a 45 minute meeting.

There is something powerful about looking each other in the eye when each party is laying out their concerns. If you remove the anger it is often found sides are not really that far apart.

I would suggest such a meeting facilitated by an objective individual. Too bad Juergen Hansen is no longer living as he was amazing at building consensus. The meeting must be done in secret so it doesn’t become politicized. Both parties must truly want to find a solution to this issue.

Even in war-torn Syria, there are negotiations going on for that conflict to come to a peaceful resolution. The longer the waterslide conflict goes on, the more acrimony it will generate and the longer it will take to heal.

This one isn’t going away so we need to deal with it.

Brian Hughes

Penticton