I was born and raised in Penticton. My grandfather owned a tent and trailer park on Power Street in the early 1950s. This is where the tennis courts are now. Every year there was an increase in the number of tourist families that came to enjoy our town. Penticton was blossoming with new motels, restaurants, and a new arena; and of course our World Champion Penticton Vees in 1955.
Many tourists moved to Penticton after experiencing the wonderful attractions here.
Then in the early 90s something happened. It started with an advertisement in a major Vancouver newspaper. It read: “It’s party time in Penticton on the long weekend.” That’s all it said. On the long weekend hundreds of party people showed up. They were unruly and rude. I often wondered who put that ad in the Vancouver paper.
By the second summer, the long weekends got worse. As the long weekend came along, more and more party people came. They left the city dirty and messy. The more weekends these partiers came, the more families there were that stayed away. It didn’t take long and the tourists that came were almost all “party people.”
The families were almost all gone. Penticton had become a “party city.”
Near the end of the second summer our party guests paraded down Main Street in the early hours of Sunday morning, after the bars had closed. They smashed windows and destroyed city property. They even damaged our beloved peach on the lakeshore.
City council and the citizens final said, “that’s enough.”
From that weekend on, and at great expense to the city and taxpayers, extra police were brought in from throughout the Okanagan to maintain law and order. It took about a year for the police to get their message across to the party tourists. Finally, the partiers could see that Penticton was no fun anymore. Good job police and city council.
With some time and good attractions, like the antique car show, Elvis festival, a rejuvenated Peach Festival and triathlon, the family tourists came back again. This brings us to where we are now.
Now someone comes up with the bright idea to allow booze on the beach and in the parks. History has a way of repeating itself.
When happens when little Johnny cuts his feet on broken glass or a tin can that’s under the sand? Lawsuits. What happens when an inebriated person drowns and his family sues the city for allowing the guy to drink and swim? Lawsuits and more lawsuits.
Who’s going to police the drinking? Who will watch people who drink on the beach and then get into their vehicles to drive home? The police are stretched thin and to their limits already.
I want to thank the elected officials who voted against this bylaw. They showed intelligence and wisdom. The ones that passed the bylaw, not so much.
We can promote Penticton as a safe, respectable community, or we can promote “booze on the beach.” We can’t promote both. They don’t mix.
Al Formo Sr., Penticton
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