Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dan Ebenal: Group’s efforts destined to fail

The following editorial appeared in the 29 July, 2008, edition of the Western News:

The saga around the proposed salvation of two aging school buildings is threatening to become a never-ending story.

The Penticton League of Sensible Electors has — despite suffering a legal defeat last week — promised to carry on their good fight to save the Penticton Secondary School auditorium and north gym from demolition is planning to announce their next move this week.

What might this move look like when the group has already used up its most powerful option is beyond us.

Might this group announce that they would tie themselves to building in a courageous, even tragically heroic bid to keep the buildings upright? Or will they call for a mass demonstration or some other form of political action? They have already raised the spectre of running a slate in the next municipal election. Or will they look for help from outside the community, say provincial leaders, assuming that these individuals actually care about this matter? We are certainly open for surprises.

But it is highly unlikely that any measure announced this Friday will succeed. The actual facts on the ground are clear and will deny PLEASE any possibility of success, no matter how they define it. The group is of course, free to pursue their goal and persist in their efforts, something it has done with determination, since it continues to ignore appeals from this space and other voices to cease their futile and ultimately doomed campaign.

The points made in favour of saving the two facilities might have resonated two, three years ago. Yes, the group has inspired thousands of people to voice their opinion in recent weeks, but this out pouring comes too late.

Editorial aside: Two or three years ago the South Okanagan Events Centre was not on the books. Now it is, and the City of Penticton is at least $20 million (I suspect closer to $40 million) poorer. Call me crazy, but I think this is relevant.

So PLEASE, end this pointless agony and stop assuming that the powers that be can be forced into sharing your rose-coloured nostalgia for two buildings whose best days are long behind them.

I assume that Mr. Ebenal has come up with a plan to fund the replacement for the aging Pen-Hi auditorium: "The Penticton Western News Centre for the Performing Arts". Now all we need from Mr. Ebenal is a cheque for $40 million...