EDITORIAL: Fee or not, Okanagan river channel garbage problem remains

City of Penticton and the Penticton Indian Band have said they want to keep the lines of communication open, but the problem remains.

It turns out that a lot of people in Penticton don’t think an environmental levy to float down the channel is a good idea.

The decision to allow Coyote Cruises to collect the fee was overturned before a full week was up, in part due to vociferous objections from Penticton residents who wanted to see the channel float remain a free ride.

Few, though, objected to the $2 that the levy was set at, or the idea of cleaning up the channel. Concerns raised ranged from distrust that the levy would go to cleaning up the channel, making it the onus of Coyote Cruises to do it out of their existing funds, or even that it would encourage people to litter if they had to pay the levy.

Many, if not most, people float down the channel for free, not using Coyote Cruises’ services. The levy was intended to level the playing field, having everyone contribute a share of the cleanup.

Though the City of Penticton and the Penticton Indian Band have said they want to keep the lines of communication open on this issue, the problem remains.

Day by day throughout the summer, the trash builds up in the channel, along the edges, and dog feces pile up on the walking trail alongside, while the exit point — a prime tourism site — slowly decays.

Any discussions between the Penticton Indian Band and the city to deal with the problem are likely to take some time; it’s highly unlikely that anything will be resolved this year.

We suggest that Coyote Cruises install a donation box in lieu of the levy, giving concerned citizens a chance to contribute. As well, one of the parties involved, be it the Penticton Indian Band, the city or Coyote Cruises, could organize some volunteer days for folks willing to lend an hand in the cleanup, since few seem to want to pay for it.