Let’s get the history straight. The plan to put a BMX track on Munson farmland is the second attempt in recent years, to ram a sport venue there.
An extended bitter battle last time, ended in a city-sponsored referendum. The people of Penticton voted no to sport use of that agricultural land. Since then, the whole area has seen substantial new vineyard and orchard planting — including on the two Munson properties that the city sold back into farming after the previous ballpark debacle.
It’s important to remember, too, that Munson land was not the BMX club’s first choice. Many non-farm locations have since been suggested by the public. It’s high time to stop thinking of agricultural land as a fix for urban requests.
Agriculture is a prime economic driver in Penticton. The beauty of our orchards and the fizz of our winery scene attract visitors worldwide. The city itself has licensed agri-tourism facilities, and farm bed-and-breakfast operations, to encourage this number-one tourist trend.
But maintaining the scenic acres that make Penticton the “Tuscany of Canada” requires significant capital investment. It is completely wrong to encourage such investment with one hand, and deep-six the investors with the other, by dropping an incompatible sports facility at the entry of our iconic Naramata Bench, entirely changing the ambiance of the whole area.
Finally, there’s a whopping misconception that the Munson land is “waste land.” The land has stood fallow for a number of years, which only enhances its fertility. In the lee of the mountain, the property has a micro-climate particularly suitable for a large variety of crops — as both the Wine Atlas and agronomy reports attest. How on earth did the “waste land” rumour get started?
The city should end the divisive Munson Mountain saga, once and for all, by selling the third Munson property back into farming. This would provide ample funds to find an appropriate BMX site — right in town. Where kids actually live, and play.