2015 - A look back

Apparently according to the Penticton Herald Newspaper City council was the newsmaker of the year.

While I think the City has many things to be proud of, I’m sure most will dwell on the controversial views, actions or directions council took this past year. We tried to get to the naked truth about public nudity at 3 Mile beach after a landowner no longer allowed the naturists on his private property. We had increased density developments that saw adding a secondary suite being allowed in a duplex and requests to have more housing on smaller parcels of land. We started looking at empty or underutilized city owned properties to leverage into greater usage and become better community assets. The biggest controversial issue was at Skaha Lake Park. It called for an expanded marina, restaurant, and water slide park. The waterpark caused a rift in the community as some people where excited to see another attraction for families (local and abroad); while others like the natural park as is, or felt the decision should be made by the entire community.

There were other controversial issues and many positive accomplishments throughout the year; which led me to the conclusion that we need a better process to engage the public.  I met many people when talking about Skaha park that were convinced every tree would be taken out, the beach would no longer be free, or the development took up the entire park. When I went to correct their points each citizen was adamant that I was wrong, and what their neighbor or co-worker told them was the truth.

People being passionate about what they want in our community are one of the great things about Penticton. How can we leverage the enthusiasm into more tangible outcomes? If you remember years back it took several community rallies to get the province to agree to the Hospital expansion and now this spring construction will commence.  We see people in our community without shelter and leaving on the street; which we acknowledge something should be done to help, but no one champions the cause. We now see tremendous outpouring of money and support to help Syrian refugees, so how does their homelessness differ from the ones in our backyard?

My point is each of us has a reason to get involved with a cause…to give back.  Whether we donate time, money, expertise, or other resources we happily jump on board because it makes us feel good, proud, and it’s a contribution that makes a difference.  How do we engage the community to be more philanthropic, informed, excited, and involved in creating a City that others want to be a part of and other governments look to as innovators or leaders?  

To those who got involved in our community…thank you.  Whether you supported council’s directions in whole or in part, or if you disagreed …thank you for taking pride in your community and thank you for getting engaged. I think we all need to continue to be innovative and view opportunities and challenges from a different perspective than the typical methodology.  I feel 2016 will need to be the year of partnerships…our biggest partner is you the community. I look forward to 2016 being a progressive and prosperous year for all.