Reset the conversation

Conversations about improving Penticton require more listening and less knee-jerk reactions.

With social media poking into every corner of our lives, we probably communicate more than ever before. The problem is, are we listening?

The fate of Skaha Lake Park has divided this community for more than a year, and while there will be a task force of community members investigating the future of Memorial Arena, it does have the potential to be as troublesome.

One local man, Ron Smuin, tried to start a different conversation on Facebook, saying that he and other community members are tired of endless comments saying nothing good is happening in Penticton, along with accusations some people oppose everything that might improve the city.

“I am tired of senior bashing, I am tired of repeated, vague allegations, I am tired of faulty analogies and comparisons, I am tired of profanity and negativity,” wrote Smuin. “I, and many others like me, want to conduct a reasoned, respectful, logical discussion.”

Real conversation is the first step, and listening is the key to that. Not just at the citizen level, where we really need to stop the name-calling and spreading opinion and theories as if they were fact, but also by city council and staff, who are just as guilty of trying to push through their vision of Penticton as any of us.

Right now, the face Penticton is presenting to the world is that of a community that is constantly arguing; hardly an attractive place to move your family or business to. Let’s reset the conversation and start talking about making Penticton a livable community and defining what we need to get there, rather than the grand and somewhat meaningless tagline of vibrant Penticton.

That conversation is wide ranging. It can run from affordable housing to the aging Memorial Arena and many more topics that add up to creating a great place to live.

Social media provides us with a powerful forum to hold this discussion, something city council should participate in along with the residents to help them really understand. What the conversation doesn’t need is knee-jerk reactions to opposing positions, sneering, invective and all the other methods people use to shoot down ideas without ever considering them.