Letter: Investing in people

City should look at social development manager

While it was an impressive wish-list on notice of motions presented at Tuesday’s city council meeting, I’m not sure how some of the councillors missed the points raised by Coun. Julius Bloomfield’s notice of motion that the city look at hiring a manager of social development to tackle homelessness and seniors issues.

I think we need to look beyond this as being homelessness and seniors’ issues. Homelessness is just one part of the picture because we can see it, but like a sore on a wound, we don’t see what is festering underneath the healing scar. These are issues that affect all of us, and this “festering” often has life-long impacts on individuals and their families, friends and communities, that can only be addressed in the communities where people live. Hopefully, with financial supports both provincially and federally.

As reported by the media, “While Bloomfield argued, “it’s time to start investing in people,” Couns. Katie Robinson and Jake Kimberley said the city should not take on provincial issues.

It’s unfortunate that investing in people is seen as a provincial issue. On the other hand, city council allows for $500,000 in lost taxes (on just one development) through Economic Investment Zones (EIZ), to encourage development. City council also goes all out for Ironman’s return but appears to bury their collective heads in the city’s sandy beaches ignoring those who call Penticton home, but only have a park as a bed. Penticton cannot live by tourism, wineries, brewpubs and sports tourism alone.

As I ride around on the city’s public transit I get to see the many wonders of what the city’s hundreds of workers have to offer as they make Penticton their home and places of work. As was demonstrated by the recent United Way Drive-Thru Breakfast, Penticton does care about those less fortunate, but we need to take this to the next level. With a social development staff, would the city council not then be better able to pull together the many issues affecting all of us, and partnering with the many elements, including Interior Health Authority (IHA) and the many non-profit organizations who work with the more vulnerable in our community? With the city council’s decision following last November’s municipal election, to cancel most of their Advisory Committees, possibly they missed the boat to engage the community, along with the city, on how to effectively and humanely work together to make Penticton truly a place for everyone, not just tourists and upper-income residents.

Fortunately, we humans are survivors, so we can build boats and start again. By investing in people, we will survive.

Brigid Kemp

Penticton

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