Nasty reality is settling over Penticton

Dear Editor:

Realities with nasty consequences are casting a shroud on the citizens of Penticton.

They reveal two deeply entrenched and long-standing weaknesses of this community: essentially lawless municipal government and orchestrated divorce of citizens from legal process by which they should be able to hold government accountable.

There are exceptional resource values in the Okanagan; some still fabulous surrounding landscape remnants, much of it still publicly owned and other parts of it at least superficially protected by ALR designation. But make no mistake, Penticton as a city is eating them away, not accommodating or complimenting them.

It offends people who believe citizens are entitled to democratic and social justice when City Council so forcefully and aggressively dismisses the views and expectations of thousands of citizens who are entitled to be part of decisions affecting their lives. It is not accidental that subversion of democratic participation is now a nasty reality – council and business denigrate it as “red tape” – and they know it would get in the way of their ambitious plans to enrich private business (like Trio Marine).

No citizen should be surprised by or pleased with private sector associations like the Chamber of Commerce and hospitality and tourism promotion associations who make it their business to manipulate council and senior city administration. They have a cozy relationship with council and taxpayers money.

They represent people and private interests that stand to gain personally from a rash of recent council decisions, the classic definition of conflict of interest that consistently damages the public’s interest.

Governments like city council have also grown more reliant on the shadowy “silent majority” or “unspoken” supporters as they manipulate power to avoid public processes like plebiscites. The nasty reality is they are referring to those select groups and individuals that support them ideologically and financially – to no one’s surprise, these people want to stay in the shadows. These references to anonymous people are a deception to help quash the views and involvement of citizens who believe democracy should be an open and public process.

These schemes serve developers and realtors very well, and they know and count on considerable public resources being rallied by Council and local MLAs to guarantee profits. But Penticton’s forced and subsidized growth, high density exploitation of services and amenities, and sell off of waterfront and park lands is incompatible with an honest and sustainable social, economic or ecological landscape.

 Dr. Brian L. Horejsi