I do not purport to be an expert on the engagement process. In fact I had not heard of it until it was recently instituted by Penticton’s mayor and city council.
It apparently relates to the concept of participative government where the general public is aware of what the current administration is proposing to do with the available tax dollars (transparency), and the administration considers the public’s input prior to finalizing a decision on how to proceed (democratic process). In other words, something that we have not seen in Penticton governance for some time.
It would seem to me that this system requires a certain amount of trust on both sides. Let us examine this in relation to some of the statements recently made by the mayor (Penticton Western News, Oct. 28) mainly relating to the Skaha Lake Park waterslide dispute.
Mayor said: “It is critical to ensure the public has the information they need to render an opinion and a feedback mechanism to let their feelings be known to city hall – before we make a decision.”
Fact: The public did not have all the information on the Skaha Lake issue because they were covered up in a non-disclosure agreement with Trio Marine group to ensure that the facts were generally not known. The public did, however, know that they did not, under any circumstances, want a water-slide in Skaha Lake Park.
They did, however, have a feedback mechanism which was a protest rally in front of city hall prior to a council meeting attended by an estimated 500 to 600 dissenters.
The lack of interest in having a waterslide in the park should have been clear to anyone that possessed even minimal common sense. In the face of this feedback, the mayor, within a week, signed an agreement with Trio Marine group to include the waterslide.
Mayor said: “We will learn and move on from the current Skaha controversy.”
Fact: It appears from the mayor’s continuing comments as expressed in his recent column that he has indeed not learned anything from this controversy to date.
He personally may have moved on, but I can assure you that the general population has not. They will not move on until this particular issue has been concluded, and there is some indication of future transparency with this mayor and city council.