Each year people make New Year’s resolutions and most will have been neglected or waivered by the time they read this article.
I propose that one resolution to stick to throughout the year be aimed at making your community a better place. It might sound superficial, but Penticton is where we live, work and play so it is up to all of us to do our part. I’m not asking for everyone to hold hands and sing Kum-ba-yah and I realize we can’t create utopia, despite those who say that we already live in paradise.
One challenge for 2017 I would like people to consider is shifting their buying habits to incorporate more local shopping. An additional 10 per cent spending on household goods and services from within the community would significantly strengthen our local economy. Instead of money recirculating around town to support our local community, we are suffering from a flow of funds out of our city. Before you drive to Kelowna to save $10 on an item, make sure to factor in the cost of gas, your time, and any other spontaneous purchases you may make during the trip. I encourage you to support local businesses — they are the ones that sponsor community events, employ the staff that support other local business, and provide the essential goods and services to ensure our community is vibrant and a sustainable place to live.
Another challenge is to become more involved in your community. This might be volunteering to help out with your child’s sports team or joining their school’s Parent Advisory Committee. Other options include the Chamber of Commerce, Travel Penticton Board, various city committees, or pitching-in with a local non-profit group or at one of the festivals or events going on in the city this year.
Please also take the time to visit the City’s engagement website www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca to get more information on various civic issues, provide feedback, and help us create new and updated plans.
This year we hope to update our Parks and Recreation Master Plan, begin updating our Official Community Plan, and start to create plans to deal with Memorial Arena and some of our other aging infrastructure. I know you all have an opinion about what we should include in our plans or priorities, so please don’t assume other like-minded people will contribute on your behalf. You need to take the time to participate. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of issues, choose one or two that you are passionate or comfortable talking about and try to provide an innovative concept, idea or solution to improve the situation.
The last challenge or resolution I hope people will embrace is the concept around being positive, building community pride and doing your part to make a difference. Council is very accessible and receptive to comments and the more perspectives, experiences and solutions we garner, the greater the collective impact will be. I only ask that you maintain decorum when lobbying your concerns or frustrations. I will never understand the logic of people who yell or berate the same person that they are trying to get to remedy a situation or align with their way of thinking; while this may be a reality of public office, it is not really productive.
It is easy to complain and dwell on the past and hindsight is always 20/20. Going forward as a community, we need to band against a culture of pessimism and negativity which is so at odds with the friendly and welcoming nature of our city.
So choose a local refreshment, whether it be a local craft beer, local craft soda or one of our exceptional local wines and fill your glass half full, then raise a toast and resolve to help make your community more livable, sustainable, smart, connected and strong! Happy New Year and let’s make 2017 awesome!