What do Oliver and Penticton have in common? Both communities have booted out their mayors. What did both mayors have in common? Both mayors gave away a park to a developer, a decision that was not popular with the peasants.
In the case of Penticton, the people had to go to court to get the mayor to back off; the process cost the town well over $200,000 to appease the developer. Little old Oliver was not so lucky; a big box like hotel with all the style and class of an oversized Lego kit got built in the downtown park, and all those big beautiful trees were torn out. Looking back, it’s clear that council gave in to a short-term gain.
The hotel, without a doubt, should have been built farther down the road on Highway 97, on land that was for sale and ready to go at a fair price, and had abundant highway frontage.
Oliver council was easily able to put in place all the successful permits needed with the many government agencies and then build a structure as big as the hotel alongside a free flowing river – a main fish-bearing link to the lakes in our part of the Okanagan.
We in Oliver needed a hotel and nobody is disputing that, but the location is a “forever mistake” that even beats the Skaha Park waterslide debacle in Penticton.
No doubt that over time losing the Oliver park in its original state will cost the community in its intrinsic value. How many towns do you know of where there is (was) a beautiful little tree-lined park that has a fantastic river running along side it? It was a jewel and it’s gone, all thanks to a short-sighted council.
These two councils are proof positive that four years is too long a term considering the damage that can collectively be achieved when decisions are made behind closed doors.
Don Smithyman, Oliver