After eight months of protests which pitted City Council members and thousands of residents against one another, all over a hasty decision to commercialize part of Skaha Lake Park, I initially thought that the new Parks and Recreation Steering Committee might be a good thing: something to start the healing process.
I was shocked, however, to learn that instead of extending an olive branch to the 4,000-plus citizens so vocally apposed to giving up a cherished piece of their parkland, council plans on excluding anyone who presumes to disagree with their collective vision of Penticton; which on the surface appears to be a Vegas-style playground for well-to-do tourists, instead of a comfortable and affordable place for the diverse group of people who choose to live here.
According to what I read, the mayor believes that opposing viewpoints will still be fairly represented, even though they have excluded everyone who has joined the Save Skaha Park movement, which incidentally is close to half the number of the people who voted in the last civic election.
To me, this sends out a draconian message that if you are not with us, then you are against us. Whatever happened to being elected to serve and representing all the people of Penticton?
My message to our mayor and council is please be the ones to take the first step in reducing this polarized rift that has divided our small community. Offering members of the Save Skaha Park movement at least one or two seats on the Parks and Recreation Steering Committee would provide this group of concerned citizens with representation.
Let’s start the new year right. It could very well be the first step in a process that might reverse the damage done to our community.