Emotions run high, citizens divided on the issue

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Things became emotional at a July 2015
City Council meeting

Residents who have spent their entire lives in Penticton have never seen anything like it.

Local historians agree no issue has divided the community as much.

Correctional centre, tearing down the Pen-Hi auditorium, an additional hotel on Okanagan Lake, Munson Mountain — contentious, indeed, but nowhere near the same reaction. Heck, even Frank the Baggage Handler, Penticton’s nude statue, didn’t raise the ire to the same degree. At least Frank was funny.

When it was announced a waterslide park would be placed on park land at Skaha Lake Park, there was an uproar.

The Herald easily set a modern-day record for letters to the editor on a local topic, easily surpassing the previous mark held by four radio announcers being laid off from Giant FM.

Meanwhile, social media appears to be far more supportive of the idea. The “Yes” side has been endorsed by both the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Penticton, the “No” side by six of the eight living ex-mayors of Penticton (the other two declined comment.)

There were two rallies, both extremely well attended, plus multiple petitions, one which has 4,000 signatures, including 3,000 from Penticton residents or landowners.

A “recall” petition — never mind B.C. doesn’t have recall laws for municipal politicians — is also gaining steam. Again, this is unheard of.

Sadly, this issue has pitted youth against seniors, neighbour against neighbour. Some are threatening to boycott businesses. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen because we don’t need to hurt business and ultimately their employees.

How much has this single issue divided the community?

People are being unfriended on Facebook. Yikes!

In Monday’s print edition, The Herald attempts to present all sides of the issue from each writer’s point of view with a special three-page section.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit has graciously answered 16 questions, in detail, provided to him in writing. As well, for the first time, individual councillors are offering their thoughts.

Trio Marine Group declined repeated requests to offer a submission or grant an interview. What we have published is their original statement from June, as well as the now-famous graphic they’ve provided.

Dr. Gerry Karr, a retired cardiologist and coordinator of the Health Living Fair, has submitted a column which previously ran in our free publication, Herald Extra, which he later revised for two separate letters to the editor (keeping within our 400 word limit.)

Like an all-candidates meeting, most people are already decided and we doubt the viewpoints offered here will change most people’s minds.

That’s not the intent. We want to give everyone a turn at the mic.