Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki

Penticton mayor’s message for 2022

Many curveballs thrown our way in 2021, but community came together

Season’s Greetings! As the year draws to a close and we begin the holiday season with family and friends, let’s continue the positive work and goodwill we witnessed this year as we each came together on the important issues, precautions, events and occasions of 2021.

Despite all the uncertainties and hardships of these past months, it’s really the stories of unity and perseverance that stand out. It’s also about lessons learned and how we can all do our part, wherever possible, to be respectful of our natural environment and our fellow citizens, ensuring our community stays strong and welcoming, for all.

As I reflect on this past year, a key theme that springs to mind is about how our community pulled together to make it what it is today. It was quite the year, battered by a pandemic and wildfires blazing throughout the region, and hearing unimaginable stories at B.C. residential schools.

Throughout it all, we saw examples of generosity and heard stories of heartfelt gratitude. We saw people giving thanks to those who were fighting the Skaha Creek wildfire. Elsewhere, we saw volunteers dedicating their time to staff the vaccination clinic or to help support those in need during the pandemic. And we rolled up our sleeves with a united vision for a brighter tomorrow.

On National Truth and Reconciliation Day, a crowd of a few hundred people joined together on a grassroots level to walk to the Residential School Memorial on the Penticton Indian Band in honour and respect of lives lost.

Our Council also made strides this past year to make our community a better place for all citizens, including approving plans to improve access to child care, support an age-friendly community, and put increased emphasis on safety and security moving forward.

At a City level, we have a responsibility to take steps to protect our natural environment. The City of Penticton, as a corporation, has been carbon neutral since 2016. We encourage you to visit penticton.ca/environment to learn more about this priority, where you can read about our Climate Action Plan, community sustainability initiatives, wildfire prevention efforts and more.

The recent flooding throughout the province shows the importance of maintaining critical infrastructure, and how everything is connected. We rely on our roads, our local airport, electricity, food security and so much more as part of our everyday existence. On a local level, we can help get people out of their cars and opt for more active modes of transportation by continuing to invest in our bike lanes, walking paths and parks.

As we look ahead to 2022, we start off knowing that whatever curveball we may face going ahead, we can tackle it – together. I encourage you to check in on your neighbours, wave hello to a stranger and keep our community spirit alive. On behalf of Penticton City Council, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season and a promising New Year to you and your family.