Are You Civic Minded?

 Are you civic-minded?

The City is pushing hard to ‘engage’ with the community, but engagement can be difficult to facilitate and more importantly, difficult to measure and validate. We all have opinions, desires and concerns regarding our City and it is vital that we get a broad cross section of our residents to weigh-in on the issues affecting the entire community.

We are undergoing several major initiatives including our infrastructure, Parks and Recreation Master Plan, and a review of our Official Community Plan.  On paper those initiatives might not sound very appealing, but they will have quite an effect on our lives now and into the future. I urge you to please take a few minutes to investigate the issues and concerns the City is facing and the opportunities for you to participate at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca   The fate of the community should not rest on the wishes of any one group and it is up to the silent majority to get involved and collaboratively help move our community forward.

We have been complimented many times for our community being extremely friendly and when we see someone looking lost, we are usually happy to help.  I believe we are a friendly City and also an open-minded City, and we need to move on from the ongoing negativity that is affecting the enthusiasm, pride, and joy we have for our community, as well as our ability to collaboratively move the City forward.

People resist change because it brings an element of uncertainty, so we tend to paint a picture of doom and gloom in hopes the change doesn’t get approved.  A good example was the community discussion on locating a correctional center here in Penticton. Much of the opinion at the time seemed to be based on what you might see in a Hollywood movie, but if you drive by the newly completed correctional center near Oliver you will see that it looks much like a warehouse or industrial building.

Trying to move forward the City will lead to some mistakes and we tend to dwell on the past as mistakes rather than view them as lessons learned. For years our community mantra was, “this is our little secret, don’t spend any money, it is good enough the way it is.” I think everyone understands the need and importance to grow and invest in our community, but the issue is everyone also has a different perspective, rationale and desire for growth. We have focussed on how can we cut instead of how we can grow and we’ve cut to the bone, which has actually has affected the health and structure of our community. The time for changing this way of thinking is now.

We typically only attract around 30% of eligible voters (regardless of how many polling stations we have) so we face an uphill battle trying to get citizens from all walks of life involved in municipal affairs. This is in stark contrast to the 100% of the population that value the magnificent beauty of our surroundings and the people that live here, as well as the facilities, infrastructure and events that makes Penticton so unique and special. As our City evolves and grows we need to make some choices, and I hope that all of you will take the time to involve yourself in the process.

Regardless of your opinion on what is happening or not happening in the City, please remember that  whether you sit on  Council, work at City Hall, or are just another proud Penticton-ite, we all have the best of intentions when it comes to moving our City forward.