I am both frustrated and saddened by the Skaha Lake Park brouhaha. I would like to make three comments.
First, this needn’t have happened if council had not been in such a hurry and had taken the time to engage in a serious public consultation before making any commitments to the developer, and certainly before making a decision to move ahead.
Why was this not done? In the absence of an answer, citizens will come to their own conclusion, which goes a long way to explaining the anger that has been expressed.
Second, council’s defiant defense of its decision as being democracy in action is alarming. They don’t seem to understand that following good process for communication and consultation is an integral element of democratic decision making.
If mayor and council continue to abuse the privilege of office, they can expect an angry public to protest. And when protesters feel they are being ignored, then expressions of anger and frustration are likely to follow. Mayor Jakubeit should not be surprised at what happened at the rally.
Third, it is discouraging to see the developer’s advocates willfully misrepresenting the Skaha waterslide opponents as anti-change, anti-development or anti-waterslide. Opponents have been clear from the beginning that they are opposed to allowing a big chunk of precious public parkland to be used for a commercial venture. In fact, from the tone and quality of the Skaha Lake Park waterslide opponents, I’d say they are, for the most part, very much in favor of seeing thoughtful and innovative development that complements rather than compromises Penticton’s public parks.
Mayor and council, I advise you to take a sober second look at what you’ve done and either scrap the Skaha Lake Park waterslide or put it to a referendum. I suggest that this is no longer just an issue about our park land; it has grown into an issue of trust and confidence in our mayor and council.
At the moment, you are looking very arrogant and downright untrustworthy to a large segment of our population. It is still early in your term and you have time to change this picture if you do the right thing.