Hospital must come first

Now is not the time for arts groups to push for a performing arts centre in Penticton

Lord knows I am a supporter of the performing arts, but the latest news about the South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society plans are bordering on the delusional.

Here we are in the middle of a keenly important campaign to convince senior government to underwrite $160 million for the important expansion of Penticton hospital. But the SOPACS is carrying on about a $32 million public underwriting of a new arts centre, on city land at Nanaimo and Ellis, plus annual operating funds.

Is it any wonder that senior government is holding back from the hospital funding or other major funding for Penticton? The signal the community is giving is that it is fractured and cannot even get its priorities straight. If I were still in government, I would simply hold back and move on to communities where they define and stick to their priorities, and are not expecting me to make their minds up for them.

Time and again I faced this situation with subsidized housing recommendations to government, and I can assure you that smaller communities with inconsistent priorities were not as well viewed as those with their act together. You better do better, Penticton. We are not big enough to get two or more concurrent rich funding allocations.

I’ll take the hospital expansion first, thanks very much, not an arts monument.

Alan Campbell