Greater Vernon politicians have spent months, and considerable dollars, debating the future of the parks, recreation and culture function.
There has been considerable back-and-forth and the discussion has often been quite heated. It appears, though, that a deal is finally in the works between Vernon, Coldstream and the two electoral areas.
However, a key player has been missing during the entire process — the public.
Yes, residents have bene kept up to date in the newspaper and they have even been able to observe the meetings first-hand. But there has been absolutely no meaningful role for the primary stakeholder.
Keep in mind that it’s been residents of all four jurisdictions that have collectively spent millions of dollars on maintaining parks and purchasing land for about 30 years. There is probably no other local service the public has embraced more.
There’s no question the elected officials have the best interest of their constituents at heart. But do they really know what their residents want?
Is there broad support for dismantling the regional umbrella and turning control of most parks over to the individual jurisdictions? Does the list of “regional” and “local” parks reflect the reality of what activities go on there and the needs of residents?
A major shift in how parks and recreation is provided is underway, and before any agreements are signed, the politicians need to step back and hear from the people who put them into office.
A full-scale referendum isn’t necessary but it’s definitely time for some public input.
—The Morning Star