I was pleased to read in the local newspaper that the Penticton city council is discussing the issue of painting crosswalks in Penticton with colours of the rainbow.
Taking the time to consider all perspectives and giving the citizens they serve a chance to share their views on the matter is refreshing. It is also in sharp contrast to the way Summerland council chose to proceed.
Let’s take a look at how these two municipal councils dealt with the exact same issue side by side.
Summerland council members briefly considered the issue at the end of one of their meetings while Penticton council discussed the issue at great length as part of a larger discussion they were having about ‘inclusivity.’
Summerland council concluded their brief discussion on the matter without making a formal decision, however did give the green light to staff to immediately go ahead and paint the crosswalks.
Penticton city council on the other hand tasked their city staff with looking in more detail at the issue and asked staff to report back with any other options that perhaps had not been considered.
Summerland council when asked if they would pause the painting of the crosswalks long enough to consult with the broader community said, “No.”
Mayor Jakubeit on the other hand, when asked if he would consider opening up the discussion and invite citizens to put forward their views on the subject said, “Yes I agree.”
In Summerland, I sent Mayor Waterman three very polite emails asking him to respond to my questions about the issue of painting crosswalks.
He replied to me once with a one-liner that said, “I understand that CAO Linda Tynan has responded to your questions.”
Almost two weeks later and after advising the mayor that CAO Tynan had not answered my questions, Summerland’s Mayor Waterman (it appears) has chosen to ignore me, his constituent.
Penticton’s Mayor Jakubeit on the other hand responded to all of my direct questions within 17 minutes, thank you Mayor Jakubeit.
And finally, when CAO Tynan of Summerland was asked why our elected officials in Summerland didn’t feel the need to consult with citizens they serve on the issue of painting crosswalks in rainbow colours, she replied by saying it was a, “small public works matter.” When Mayor Jakubeit was asked about the issue of consultation he replied by saying that his council would, “require ideas from the community” to achieve their goals.
I am hopeful that our mayor and council in Summerland will change their mind and consult with the people they serve before proceeding with their plan to paint the crosswalks in our hometown.
However if they don’t, perhaps they can still learn a lesson (or two) from the mayor and councillors of Penticton.
A council who obviously still values input from the citizens they serve.