Sunday, July 20, 2008

Adeline Rheaume: Court injunction for buildings necessary step

The following letter appeared in the July 15th Western News. A slightly different version also appeared in the Herald:

Why is it necessary for taxpayers of this area to take such extraordinary steps as asking for a court injunction to stop the destruction of the Pen Hi gym and auditorium?

It’s because we have such an extraordinary situation here, with tens of millions of dollars worth of valuable assets in danger of being hauled to the landfill. (And then we might well be forced into the position of replacing them.) All this with the distinct possibility of an economic “correction” facing us.

There is very strong evidence that an overwhelming majority of Penticton and area residents (approximately 97 per cent) do not want this to happen.

Yet our six school trustees, who speak with one strangely identical voice, plus five of our city council (everyone except Vassilaki and Ashton) have decided to ignore the usual democratic process and act against the wishes of this vast majority.

If they challenge these statements, we challenge them (if they cannot see fit to call a referendum) to sit down and carry out another opinion survey. With us.

When we conducted our survey, with every age group from high school to senior participating, over 2,600 said do not do it.

Only 85 said yes. If they can come up with that many people agreeing to the destruction of these facilities, I’m sure some of us would be willing to autograph the wrecking ball. That’s how confident we are the people of this area are completely against this insanity.

So what we have here is a handful of elected people who have forgotten that they represent us, the electorate. When there is such a huge disconnect between their thinking and what the general public wants, its time they did some soul searching. Especially when they are embarking upon something totally irreversible.

Working together, the city, school board and the South Okanagan Performing Arts Facility Society could have made this work on behalf of the community, serving both adults and students for decades to come. They chose not to.

That is when we began hearing, “PLEASE. Something has to be done.”

Remember. There are no grants or funding of any kind. Just people digging into their own pockets because they do not want to see pieces of Penticton destroyed and the city thrown into unnecessary debt.

And now on the lighter side. Overheard in Kelowna: “Good thing Penticton officials were not in charge of the new bridge. They would have taken it down first then started figuring out how to replace it.”