Historian Randy Manuel spoke at the PenTALKton event about the evolution about Penticton, including the history of flooding, channelization and the various dams built between Okanagan and Skaha lakes.                                (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

Historian Randy Manuel spoke at the PenTALKton event about the evolution about Penticton, including the history of flooding, channelization and the various dams built between Okanagan and Skaha lakes. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

Future of Penticton the talk of the town

The city’s PenTALKton event drew a strong crowd and a large social media presence

The future of Penticton was the talk of the town Wednesday evening, as the city brought several people to speak on varying topics of urban life, from health to history to homelessness.

The City of Penticton’s PenTALKton event Wednesday evening brought a packed house of a couple hundred attendees at the trade and convention centre, where officials from Interior Health and the City of Penticton, a historian, a university professor and more spoke on issues facing Penticton today and in the future.

The talks brought a particularly strong Twitter presence, as attendees were encouraged to tweet the hashtag #pentalkton, along with various other social media platforms.

Related: PenTALKton aims to start conversations

The talks were part of city hall’s engagement strategy with the upcoming official community plan.

“Basically the idea is to plant seeds in people’s minds. Things they can think about as we go into the next round of consultation about the official community plan,” special projects manager Ben Johnson said at the event.

“Starting in January, we’re going to have an expo and some very focused workshops in different subject areas, so what we’ve done is brought in a range of different local and regional speakers to really encourage people to think about things before we start talking in more detail.”

Related: City to spend 18 months on new community plan

Those speakers ranged from historian Randy Manuel to environmental health officer Anita Ely with Interior Health to Bryn White with the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program to Linda Sankey with the South Okanagan-Similkameen Brain Injury Society.

“We want to improve, maximize the opportunity for people, for everyone in the community to access and engage with the natural environment,” Ely told the packed convention room. “This has been shown to have a positive effect on the mental health of a group of people of population.”

Related: City names OCP task force members

Manuel spoke to the history of flooding in Penticton, detailing the various dams that were built to mitigate floods along the Okanagan River until the final dam was built.

“Channelization had destroyed most of the wetlands between Okanagan and Skaha lake, leaving only a stagnant remnant of the original vibrant river,” Manuel said of the third dam built in 1953.

Johnson said the next round of engagement is expected to include a physical space the city would rent in the downtown area, likely in the 200 block of Main Street. That would provide the space for the workshops the city is intending to hold to develop the OCP.

Wednesday night’s event, intended to preempt that stage of engagement, was co-ordinated by Pecha Kucha organizer Skylar Punnett, and was intended to bring a younger crowd to the table.

“(Punnett) is going to attract some of those people that are attracted to this very exciting, short presentation format. But at the same time, we’ve reached out to all corners of our community, and I think I see a broad range of people tonight,” Johnson said.

He said he was happy to see a strong turnout at the event, adding the city would be looking at returning to the format in the future if it is deemed successful.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

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