Mayor’s Minute: Lots to explore, right at home

Last summer, a few hundred of us took part in a mosaic mural project to create a legacy for Canada’s 150th birthday by painting our own unique images of what Penticton means to each of us. With the cold winter, wet spring and high lake levels, not only did the summer of 2017 sneak up on us, but so did Canada’s 150th birthday. I know several people that are travelling throughout Canada this year to commemorate the occasion, but for many of us, a trip to a national park or other famous attraction might not be possible.

I would like to suggest that you consider a more local quest. Our region has many fascinating festivals, events, landmarks, activities and adventures. I challenge each of you to stray from your usual routine and comfort zone to get out and try something new and local. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Three Blind Mice or Skaha Bluffs but have never actually explored what thousands travel here to experience. The ‘Mice’ is used by mountain bikers and the ‘Bluffs’ are focused on climbing, but both areas have an extensive trail network that you can easily hike.

The Kettle Valley Railroad is an important part of our history, but these days, most of us view it as a network of hiking and biking trails stretching towards Naramata. Beyond the little tunnel above Naramata are some rock ovens and a second, closed tunnel. The trails are not only cool to visit, but also offer stunning vistas of the lake, vineyards, and the city. The KVR also extends south along Skaha Lake and circles up towards Summerland where you can take a ride on a restored steam train.

Most of the things I have mentioned are common knowledge, just like we all know that Penticton is one of two cities in the world sandwiched between two lakes, but how many of us go out and enjoy what we have sitting right in front of us? How many of you actually got out on the water last year or plan to do so this year? Whether it is in a kayak, boat, or paddleboard, there is something special about being on the water. We have miles of public beaches — when was the last time you hit your local beach? Within a one hour drive, we also have over 150 wineries, several distilleries and 10 craft breweries waiting to quench your thirst and satisfy your culinary desires.

Some of my favourite times growing up and raising my own kids were our family outings. It didn’t really matter where we went or what we did because we were together sharing new adventures, experiences, and creating wonderful memories. Many of us depend on our seasonal visitors to earn a living and it can be a challenge to take time off during the busiest time of year, but I hope you can make time to enjoy the unique piece of paradise we get to call home. Pushing outside your comfort zone to explore new things will reintroduce yourself to undiscovered adventures that you may have forgotten about, taken for granted, or never knew existed.

Over the past few weekends, the city was packed with people and the throng of visitors provided a significant boon for our local economy after a slow start to the summer season. The next three months will see an influx of people visiting and it always makes me happy that, when asked, many will comment on how beautiful it is here, and how friendly everyone is. That’s what being a proud Pentictonite and Canadian is all about.

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

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