Council's 'ears taped shut'

Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield made some surprising remarks immediately prior to the city council vote approving the Reservoir Road subdivision located on the Naramata Bench.

Seemingly unaffected by the strong and detailed opposition shown in the city’s public engagement results, Bloomfield cited a poll he commissioned and paid for himself. That poll, of undisclosed exact results and undisclosed exact questions, apparently revealed a majority of Penticton residents favour development within the city’s boundaries, thus justifying the mayor’s stance.

I realize public engagement is not polling per se, but it is time-consuming for both public and staff, and surely should be considered as more than window dressing.

Bloomfield tried to shore up his position, claiming some people don’t like change. That’s an incorrect generalization on the part of the mayor. People accept change when it’s well planned, well designed and illustrated and not backed up by insulting comments about an anonymous private sector poll result, tossed like a Hail Mary pass when the public has legitimate concerns about important criteria concerning a controversial development.

With the exception of Coun. James Miller, the mayor and his council seemed to be mostly influenced by the developer’s concluding statements and the mayor’s previously undisclosed private poll results.

Perhaps this is the emergence of a new normal for Penticton’s public hearings, with strange analyses delivered only after the gavel is banged and the public allowed no further comment on the matter.

One wonders why anyone would want to waste their time providing publicly requested input when the majority of council members’ ears seem taped shut to that input.

Loraine Stephanson, Pouch Cove, Newfoundland

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