Now that the election is over, it’s time to start looking forward.
It’s a new council, with a fresh outlook on running things, and it would be nice if they had the advantage of a clean slate.
But as George Santayana said, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Despite Mayor Garry Litke’s painting a rosy picture of this council’s successes, concerns raised over council’s actions, especially during the last two years, can’t be dismissed as what he refers to as “cloud of media negativity.”
In fact, one of the first things the new city council needs to do is build bridges and work to repair the damaged image of council left by several incidents, starting with the hockey dorm debacle and the resultant lawsuits by contractors who placed $1.6 million in liens against the Eckhardt Avenue properties.
Then there was the nearly year-long dispute with the Penticton Hospitality Association, resulting in the city losing a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court. There is just no good spin the city can put on the legal costs incurred or the potential loss of tourism revenue.
The lawyer’s letter to Elvena Slump also comes under the “what were you thinking?” heading. Justified or not, there was no way threatening a lawsuit against an already-outspoken 76-year-old was going to result in good public relations for council or city hall.
There have been many positives over the last two terms of council: tax increases have been minimal, WestJet has introduced Calgary flights, an expansion to Penticton Regional Hospital is on the way.
None of these positives should be forgotten, but nor should be the negative decisions. And in the interests of avoiding repeating history, Penticton’s new council needs to look into where the advice, or lack thereof, came from that put the city at odds with its businesses and citizens.