Andrew Jakubeit is the Mayor of Penticton and provides the Western News with a column twice a month.

Mayor’s Minute: A great year for arts and culture in Penticton

Another year is in the books, and as we look back the City of Penticton certainly has had some newsworthy events.

The high water and smoke dominated our spring and summer, overshadowing many positives to celebrate. This week, I’d like to focus on some of the softer success stories. This was the first year that arts and culture in our community saw some significant exposure. It started with the Canada 150 Mosaic project, followed by the Penticton Public Sculpture Exhibition along Okanagan Lake, local art on display at the hospital, and the inaugural Arts Rising festival which showcased every discipline of the arts.

We are actually a very talented and supportive arts community, but when it comes to spending money to support it, divisive opinions can fracture or sometimes stall momentum. We all have a favourite song, movie, book or TV show. Just imagine spending one day without music, TV, admiring a painting, or being amused by a video on Facebook.

This year we also celebrated 40 years as a sister city to Ikeda, Japan. I joined a small delegation to visit Japan and was amazed by the similarities in topography, climate and friendliness of the residents. The Japanese garden by our art gallery is a beautiful public space for serenity, relaxation and special moments. It is the most obvious legacy or benefit from our sister city relationship. Forty years is a long time and the relationship is symbolic of the city’s commitment to be an inclusive and diverse community.

This year, the South Okanagan Immigrant Community Services organization celebrated 41 years of service by opening their new office and learning centre on Ellis Street. They offer language classes, plus employment and settlement services to help immigrants and refugees integrate into the community.

This year also focused on social issues from safety to homelessness to addiction. We’ve been working to be proactive, facilitating interested parties and fostering partnerships to address the issues and we are starting to see some positive momentum. We’ve made progress with affordable housing, but the biggest success is the YES (Youth Engagement Strategy) Project. The YES Project is purchasing a location for a youth centre and also received funding for programming.

There are very limited resources and programs to help youth, so if we can help provide direction, support or alternatives to keep kids from making poor choices or a life on the streets, we all benefit. I was asked to help volunteer with a school breakfast program and was surprised to learn the organizer has been volunteering for eight years, even though her child has already graduated high school. I was amazed and humbled by her enthusiasm and dedication to ensure kids who need a healthy start to their day have something to eat. We often talk about a volunteer army in reference to the many events we host, but this is an example of the many kind-hearted individuals going out of their way to benefit others.

Another proud moment is Penticton’s support for so many local causes, particularly those involving kids. The YES Project just started their fundraising program and already cracked $1 million. OSNS broke last year’s telethon record. The medical foundation has raised over $15 million towards the new David E. Kampe tower, and the community came together for several families struck by tragedy or expensive medical procedures.

It shouldn’t just be the holiday season where we are filled with joy, offer goodwill and hope for peace and prosperity for everyone. I hope 2018 is the year where you take time to do your part and give back to make our community a better place. Wishing everyone a happy new year!

Andrew Jakubeit is the Mayor of Penticton and provides the Western News with a column twice a month. Contact him via email Andrew.Jakubeit@penticton.ca. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJakubeit

Just Posted

Cyclist in distress prompts Hwy 3A closure

BC Air Ambulance transported the male, believed to be in his 50s, to a nearby hospital

Cannabis Cottage opens its doors in Penticton

The third dispensary in the city opened on Saturday

Penticton Minor Lacrosse Alum returns from Worlds Junior to stay in Canada

Aidan Danby helped Canada to sweep the tournament

Vees sweep up their first preseason win Friday night

The team is off to take on the Trail Smoke Eaters on Saturday night

Nature Wise: Pushback against resource development projects

Bob Handfield is president of the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

Man shot near Coalmont airlifted to hospital

A man was shot near Coalmont B.C. Saturday afternoon. The victim was… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

Renter of torched Okanagan home a British Army veteran, new Canadian

Owen Wilson was just beginning to settle into life in Canada when the blaze occurred

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Most Read