Getting Involved in Your City

Getting involved in your city

Last month the City kicked off its Parks and Recreation Master Plan with a robust community engagement initiative. We have an active and involved community in Penticton but for many that means actually being at the soccer field or the hockey rink, not necessarily having time to come to a focus group on fields and arenas.

This Master Plan is going to guide decision for the next ten years, so we wanted to ensure even the busiest voices are contributing. In addition to a well-attended Open House and 14 Focus Group Discussions we also launched a new online hub where you can tell us about your need for trails while stopping for water break on the KVR or comment on aquatic schedules while you’re watching swim practice. In under a month www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca has had over 1500 visitors to foster discussions and answer surveys. Over 100 community-driven ideas for the plan have been generated online - there is a wide mix of suggestions, best practises, and solutions to improve what we have already. Many of us have visited different places that offered a unique experience that perhaps we could implement here. It is great to see the ideas flowing in.

The City’s current Parks Master Plan was adopted in 1993 so it is time to update and modernize our offerings to meet changing trends and expectations in our community. Getting involved, means that we get out of City Hall too – this summer you’ll see outreach for the Master Plan at the markets, at special events and in City hubs like the Library and Community Centre. There will also be two more Open Houses. If you don’t see us, jump online –your ideas matter. Sometimes I hear that the City is not listening, but this is exactly what all of these efforts are about – we want to listen to your ideas. We want a plan that reflects what you need and value.

We have been engrained to accept the status quo as normal and our vision for the future is limited by personal perspective. Sometimes that perspective only considers what we know or have comfort with instead of using a community lens or being open minded about other opportunities. A good example is the pushback people voiced with the pathway along Okanagan Lake. We used to have a goat trail that you required you to form a single file if opposing traffic approached. Despite this and the roots sticking out of the ground which caused trip (liability) hazards; some were very vocal to leave it as is…it is good enough. Now that the pathway has been widened and upgraded it is very well used all year around.

As much as the first part of this blog is about engaging for our future; in particular with our Parks and Recreation Master Plan, this is also an opportunity to push for involvement and support for some of the many upcoming festivals and events. Our highly engaged community has made me very proud on multiple occasions as the power of our volunteer armies has clinched the success of events like Challenge, Granfondo Axel Merckx and the recent BC Winter Games. Our many festivals and events need volunteer help and many of them are run by community groups.  If you can’t volunteer I would encourage you to participate some of our upcoming festivals or events. The more people that attend the better the atmosphere, energy, and financial viability of the event; which help enable the event to grow and/or give back more to the community.

You may have heard about a local group wanting to submit a bid to host the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and push for “Rock the Bid”.  The organizers hope to garner 1000 deposits of $100 to include in the host submission to demonstrate community interest and support. Generating mid-week and off-peak sport tourism will account for over 600 hotel rooms per night and between $6 and $12 Million in economic impact over the 8 days. This is pretty significant impact and exposure for our community as curling has a large following and TV audience.  This is a great example of how getting involved can have amazing results for the whole City. Check out www.rockthebid.com.

We live in one of the most beautiful Cities in the world, with so much potential, we also have a tremendous opportunity to engage, participate and shape how we play. I hope this summer you do take the time to enjoy our many parks, recreation activities, festivals, events, and participate in making our community a better place for all…residents and visitors alike.