I was born and raised in Penticton, and for most of my teen years I dreamed of one day escaping.
Once I did, I dreamed of ways to get back.
Teenage me would have been appalled, but living in big cities and the far-flung reaches of Alberta was eye opening.
Of course, this isn’t unique. Many of the people I grew up with, who left Penticton for school or to travel the world, feel the same. I don’t find it strange to see their faces around the city at the grocery store, the beach, the hockey rinks anymore. While some found jobs, others have created them. Entrepreneurialism in this city seems to be exploding. Many behind the changes are my age and are innovating out of necessity, so they can continue to live in Penticton. Doing so, after all, doesn’t come easy.
My partner, who is a born-and-raised, big-city boy from Calgary, travels three provinces over for work to ensure we have enough money to live in this paradise. He doesn’t mind the trade-off, and things will be even better once WestJet fires up here.
I consider myself a lucky one. There are others who want to make the pilmagrage back to the Okanagan, but simply can not find work or affordable housing.
It has a direct correlation to what has happened to this city.
When I was younger Penticton seemed much more alive. The streets were packed all summer. There were a number of nightclubs, two waterslides and an overall buzz. That’s when I was pedalling my BMX around Penticton on my paper route dreaming what life would be like far, far away, mind you.
Now, all grown up, I sit in the editor’s seat of that same paper wondering what this town will be like when it grows up.
I feel Penticton is on the verge of a big shift. Over the past few years we have seen an influx of energy and ideas. The common theme in those ideas is change. Change that will be of benefit to both young and old, rich or poor.
Those ideas and the potential for transformation inspired me as we went through the Top 40 Under 40 stories this year. Almost all of the people featured followed that familiar path away from the city, and then back. Or they simply fell in love with Penticton and willed a way to call it home.
Some of those same people have joined others on Facebook to discuss how they can revitalize the city. I feel people are becoming more engaged, comments on our stories online and the amount of letters we receive has picked up.
For some in this community change may be a scary word, but it needs to be embraced. Sure, change can be scary but letting fear prevent us from moving forward is a far worse thing.
Look at me. I feared that I would never get out of Penticton, all it took was a different perspective to see it is where I always wanted to be.
New face, new job titles
If you read through my column, you will see I was promoted to the editor seat after four years of working various beats from city and crime to arts and entertainment at the Penticton Western News.
There is also a bit more shuffling around the editorial department. City reporter Steve Kidd, who has been with the paper for six years, having previously worked for the Lake Country Calendar, also was promoted to senior reporter.
We have added a new member to our team in Scott Trudeau. You may recognize his name and face as he previously worked for the Penticton Herald. His presence makes it a grand total of four members of the editorial team (including Joe Fries and Emanuel Sequeira) that attended Thompson River’s University journalism program, and all together at one point or another.
Kristi Patton is the editor of the Penticton Western News