Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dodi Morrison: Decision divides community

The following appeared in the Western News on June 8, 2007:

This week Penticton city council decided to tear down Pen High auditorium and the attached gym. This was in spite of a very well-delivered and sensible presentation telling of all the uses that could be found for this quite newly renovated structure (that is, the gym). I was urged to attend the meeting but had the impression that we had till the end of June to come up with a plan and even thought one was almost in place — for the auditorium. I wished to speak, but apparently there was no time.

Why is the auditorium considered so old? The three schools I attended in Vancouver, which are far older, are still going strong with a little tweaking here and there. Our solidly built auditorium stands on cement and only the wood structure of the stage needs replacing. That could be done, I am told by reliable builders, for only $2-3 million, including dressing rooms, bathrooms and an entrance. That is a sum our small city could handle. Not that I would not enjoy a new venue with all the bells and whistles. But we have enough debt now, with the event centre and all the infrastructure caused by the many new buildings in town. Only the elite seem to want new taxes.

Monday night I sat beside a woman who lives in White Rock, hardly an impoverished B.C. town. She voluntarily admired the structure of our auditorium “I wish we had this in White Rock. It’s beautiful!” Then there are the artists who praise its acoustics — but those aren’t supposed to matter any more, I gather.

What a sad day. And what a divided town — divided unnecessarily.

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