A protest in front of city hall Monday evening proved to be one of the largest in recent memory.
Most of the time these rallies on the steps of city hall don’t draw much more than a handful or two of people, maybe drawing as many as 50 if the issue is controversial enough. So it was a surprise to see a crowd of several hundred people gathering this week to rally about a waterslide project.
Just the sheer number of people concerned, both pro and con, should have been enough for city council to decide more discussion was needed and revisit their June 29 decision to lease a section of a Skaha Lake Park to Trio Marine Group.
It wasn’t. According to Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, the other six councillors weren’t in favour, so he decided not to return the item to council’s agenda.
“If none of council want to change their mind, or reconsider, I am only one of seven,” said Jakubeit.
We doubt, however, that will put an end to the public discussion and the outrage the crowd displayed at the rally.
There shouldn’t be any doubt that Penticton city council, or any governing body, has a tough job.
They really have two mandates: to make the best decisions for the future of the community and to do the will of the people. In a fair number of decisions, those two factors don’t coincide and council has to choose which way to go.
The rally sent council two clear messages. Council heard, and disagreed, with the opinion that leasing part of a park to private interest was a bad choice. But the sheer size of the rally, drawing people on both sides of the issue sent another message, that there hadn’t been enough public consultation.
That’s the message that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.