Surprise, but step up now

Dear Editor:

As I got up from the proverbial floor, I wondered if either my eyes or neural circuits had been playing tricks on me, so I took another look.

Sure enough, there it was again.  In black and white, the City of Penticton was “moving beyond consultation” into “meaningful resident involvement” in city decisions, according to Mayor Jakubeit (MJ).

This is almost surreal. Could it be true? Did he say this before he had his morning coffee? But the rest of the little note read well too, so lets get on with it.

A few people may remember that in my bid for council my platform No. 1 was: “establish a formalized, organized participation process that entitles citizens to regular and inclusive participation in city planning, management, budgeting and decision making”.

Well, this is one time I’m pleased someone, let alone city bureaucrats and council, stole, at least in appearance, something from me. Naw! Maybe the public’s loud and persistent push on mistakes by mayor/council and administration, like the Trio/Skaha fiasco, led to this. Possibly.

But big questions remain.

One of the reasons democracy is so weak in B.C. at every level of government is that the people — citizens, you and I — don’t routinely see issue resolution like the people that have been elected, and we often have our differences with the bureaucrats that have buried themselves into the development-at-all-costs machinery. It has taken decades but over that span they’ve managed to put us behind a wall — until now? Really?

Most citizens don’t admire city council/administration for being the provincial jurisdiction deepest in the pork muck when it comes to handouts and treats for the commercial/corporate private sector.

As a city we’ve got serious dollar problems partly because of these kinds of favoritisms and yet MJ and council brag about it as an accomplishment.

What about that Trio/Skaha decision? Not synonymous with the public’s vision! And paving over far too much of the Sicamous park area? There’s a long list here, and they all point to a huge gap between the ambitions of city bureaucrats, MJ and council versus public expectations and vision.

Are they ready for this? Can they handle diversity and resistance and public direction? Or is this just a diversionary scam? What happens when the public says not here, or not now, or not that way?

We don’t know the answer to that yet, but I hope every citizen that cares about “things” like tax rates and tax dollars, parks, fair and equitable distribution of services, fair share taxation by everyone in town, conflicts of interest at city council or whether there should be a 12-storey building next to your residence, for example, gets in line, gets informed and gets ready to speak up.

For a start, email engage

@penticton.ca to get on the list.

Dr. Brian L. Horejsi

Penticton