ARENDT: The challenge of knowing when to fight

The Okanagan Skaha School Board’s decision to close three schools has been difficult to watch as it unfolded in recent weeks.

The Okanagan Skaha School Board’s decision to close three schools has been difficult to watch as it unfolded in recent weeks.

Parents and others in the community have spoken out about the importance of preserving Trout Creek Elementary School, but the decision has been made. The school will close at the end of June.

And now, in the immediate aftermath of this decision, there is a level of outrage and bitterness at the school board for choosing to close this school.

Those opposed to the closure will continue to push for a reversal.

Whether their attempts prove successful remains to be seen.

This story is far from over.

As I have been watching the response to this closure, I’m reminded of an earlier topic which also resulted in a significant level of outrage.

The decision was the Columbia River Treaty, an international agreement between Canada and the United States. It was signed on Jan. 17, 1961 and came into effect on Sept. 16, 1964.

The agreement resulted in the creation of a series of dams for flood control and for the generation of hydroelectric power.

For the residents of Arrow Lakes communities, the effects were life-altering.

A hydroelectric dam north of Castlegar was built in the 1960s and as a result, the water level came up considerably. Entire towns, including Burton, Fauquier and Edgewood, had to be relocated uphill and away from the higher water level.

Some who remember these communities before the dam was built are still upset or bitter about the loss of their towns and their way of life, half a century later.

At times, strongly worded signs of protest have been set up in the area, along Highway 23. To this day, others continue to voice their anger through newspaper letters to the editor.

When the dam was created, B.C. Hydro purchased 3,144 properties in the area and relocated 1,350 people.

While compensation was given, some of the affected residents felt they had no choice but to accept the payments.

Despite the complaints, the Columbia River Treaty remains in effect and the original sites of several Arrow Lakes communities are still underwater.

There are other examples, closer to home, where bitterness lingers long after a decision has been made.

The merger of the Summerland and Penticton school districts, in 1996, is still a sore point among some in the community. The merger came as a result of a restructuring of education at the provincial level. Despite the resentment felt by some, the merged school district is likely here to stay.

There is still some disappointment stemming from the decision to close the Summerland General Hospital in 2002. The building remains in place but it is a health facility, not a hospital.

Considering the expansion at the Penticton Regional Hospital, it is unlikely Summerland will ever have its own hospital again.

Once implemented, each of these decisions became virtually impossible to reverse.

So where do we go from here with the current school closure discussion?

We as a community must recognize there is a time to speak out against a proposed change.

There is also a time, even after a decision has been made, to push for a reversal.

And there is a time to accept — grudgingly, perhaps — that a change is here to stay.

The challenge is knowing when to keep up the fight and knowing when to accept that nothing more can be done.

For now, the community has decided it is still the time to fight.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review, a sister paper to the Western News.



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