Rally turnout tells the story

Dear editor:

There are several simple concepts that the mayor and city council do not appear to understand. I believe that most, if not all, of these concepts are still taught at the grade school level.

In future when I refer to the mayor, I am referring to the council as well as they all seem to have the same opinion on commercial development on public green space.

The concepts referred to are majority versus minority, facts versus guesswork, minor versus major, dictatorial versus democratic, referendum, and percent.

For example, the supporters of water slides in Skaha Lake park at a rally in the park held Nov. 7, 2015, numbered 100 according to the Herald reporter that attended the event.

In contrast, a similar rally held on Sept. 27, 2015, by those opposed to waterslides in the park attracted 1,000 participants. This works out to 91 per cent of rally participants opposed to the slide development in the park.

One could say that the inclement weather during the Yes rally reduced the numbers by an unknown amount. However, the No side did attract approximately 500 out to a protest rally at city hall a couple of months ago in rainy weather that turned into a downpour.

Everything must be kept in context, and the relatively low turnout for the Yes rally indicates weak support at best.

Similarly we could use the letters to the editor, both for and against slides in the park, as a further estimate of the support for council’s decision. In this comparison we have 24 letters in support of the slides in the park and 364 against. That represents 94 per cent of letter writers opposed to the slides.

Both of these indicators support the fact that the opponents of the development in the park far outnumber supporters. This is in spite of the mayor’s reference to the “silent majority” that support his decision to proceed. He refers to it as moving forward, but the direction of travel could be in  question based on the facts.

Mr. Tom Dias, who is supposedly one of the principals in the development was quoted as saying, “I think that there is lots of support in this town” when referring to the water slides. If his market research consists solely on his thinking or guesswork and not visible facts and evidence, I, for one, would not finance or invest in his company.

Further evidence that is available from the No side is the number of signatures on a petition demanding a referendum be held on the issue. A residents-only petition for the referendum has 5,035 signatures to  date. A non-residents petition has 3,100 signatures. Will these people frequent Trio Marine’s enterprise if the development proceeds as planned?

I had previously referred to the well known concepts of democracy and a referendum as a means of assessing support for a given project or direction that city council wishes to proceed. The mayor does not believe in these concepts, and apparently finds them passe and overly restrictive. Better to use gut feel, guesswork, or “pie in the sky” thinking.

The mayor believes that a referendum on the issue is too costly, but is not opposed to spending an unknown, but probably substantially higher, amount of taxpayer dollars on defending a lawsuit on the city’s right and authority to give up parkland for commercial development. More convoluted thinking.

Claude Bergman

Penticton