Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ron Barillaro: Stand up and be counted

The following appeared in the August 05, 2008 edition of the Western News:

The Okanagan Skaha school board must be very satisfied with themselves, now that the courts have upheld their decision to demolish the gym and auditorium at Penticton Secondary School.

Once again, the concept of might makes right comes to the fore. The problem I have with this is: how can anyone who was elected on, and purports to believe in, democratic principles, in clear conscience, even entertain such an attitude?

If the contract has been let and the ultimate end is near, what would happen if a challenge to the court decision were made and the destruction had already started? I shudder to think. Would, or for that matter could, restoration be made? Scary thoughts, don’t you think.

It may seem too late for salvation. That is, only if you believe it is. If you are a “preservationist keener,” get off your duff and make your sentiment known. Flood the school board office with calls. Light up the switchboard. Get focus groups and protest at the board office. Make you sentiment known.

Don’t just sit in the wings and complain while taking no action to rectify things. Urge the protest group to appeal the decision of the judge. Be proactive and, if need be, reactive. Don’t just stand there, do something if you’re a believer in cultural values and history. I, for one, have no interest in city fathers pursuing a white elephant arts and entertainment centre that we can ill afford, irrespective of the far-fetched promises our elected pundits seem to make saying that it will be funded by governments and casino funds and corporate sponsors.

I wish to inform the city fathers that not everyone just fell off of the turnip truck.

The far-reaching consequences will be felt by our kids, and our kids’ kids for our illustrious events centre. True, it will be here long after your terms have ended, for the most part. You can always look back and say, as new administrations bring in policy, we’re not responsible for that. That’s what new administrations can say about your faux pas.

From my perspective, I see two choices for us as concerned taxpayers. The first is to bury our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and pretend that whatever happens won’t really affect our daily lives now or in the future. The second is that we can stand and be counted by supporting a call for an appeal and hopefully achieve the desired result of preservation or a re-think on the board’s part. After all, it is our tax dollars that they are playing this game with.

Bottom line is this — if you are content to sit on the fence, the fence will fall. If you are prepared to bolster the fence, it will stand. Stand and be counted if you believe in the school preservation. Do it now, whatever you can. I am.

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