The Land of Sunshine and Lollipops

On Valentine’s Day I joined staff at various spots around town asking people what they love about Penticton. It was the kick off to our Official Community Plan (OCP) engagement with the public. 

Many people commented on things we can’t control like our weather, having four distinct seasons, and being surrounded by natural beauty. I have a friend who toured throughout Oregon and California last summer thinking he would find a similar paradise to what we have here. When he returned he commented on how truly unique Penticton is despite the many ocean side communities he visited that also boasted stunning vineyards and incredible natural settings.   

Penticton is very walkable and cycling friendly and I love how the downtown core flows seamlessly into the waterfront, the parks and hotels, and is just a few blocks away from the Events Center.  Many people commented on Penticton’s relaxed lifestyle. In fact, when I speak to various organizations or businesses considering a move to Penticton I show a picture of people floating down the channel and boast. “this is our rush hour… this is our traffic jam.”  Lifestyle can be a powerful attractant for all ages and demographics so it will be important to capture that in our updated OCP.  Many residents have a strong sense of pride in our lifestyle and the beauty and friendliness of the City which permeates our many festivals and events and makes us as a premiere tourism destination.

Another strong theme was our ‘friendly small town feel’ with many respondents pointing out that we had great amenities for a city our size yet still felt a certain charm and sense of community. Penticton has a little of everything you need, and even more of what you want.

Our OCP update isn’t just about where development should occur or the design standards and bylaws required, it is about coming to grips with what we want to be when we grow up. Penticton turns 109 this year and some would argue we are starting to show our age. There are some who think we are good enough just the way we are, so we don’t need to do anything or invest a lot of money. There are others who think we need to grow and add more amenities. Then there are others who want a little of both, some growth and some amenity improvements, but not at the cost of losing our identity and charm. 

Closing your eyes and thinking happy thoughts or hoping good things will m

agically appear is not an effective strategy. Council is investing heavily into updating our parks and recreation master plan, setting up a task force to investigate the future of our arenas, validating our infrastructure deficit, and reviewing our official community plan. Council also recently endorsed a shift in focus for staff to work towards making the City more liveable, sustainable, smart, connected and strong.  This is certainly a very ambitious workload for staff, council, and the community.

Part of our investment into communication and engagement is to provide residents with the information, initiatives and tools to get involved. Everyone has an opinion on what the City should and shouldn’t do, and what we should invest in, explore or champion; however few people take the time to voice their ideas, concerns or solutions. There has never been a better time to get engaged and weigh-in on what you would like to see Penticton become. Please don’t expect your neighbors to voice similar concerns or share your vision. It is your community and we want to leverage the collective impact of many voices and obtain a comfort level that the communities needs and desires are being incorporated into the decision making process.  Please visit www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca to get informed and participate.