Looking back at previous South Okanagan projects

It is often said that hindsight is 20-20 and even more so in government as initiatives would be viewed differently today than in the past.

It is often said that hindsight is 20-20 and even more so in government as initiatives such as the harmonized sales tax would most certainly be viewed  differently today than in the past.

From time to time I believe it is important for elected officials to review past decisions to assess where they are today with the added perspective of time  to more objectively form an opinion.

Recently I had a chance to review some of the information related to the South Okanagan Events Center, which, I was reminded in a former letter of support from then mayor of Penticton David Perry, was to be Penticton’s 100th anniversary legacy project.

As we now know, the SOEC was a significant project and ultimately it would be three different mayors and councils who all collectively contributed to the completion of the events centre project.

All at times had to make difficult  decisions to ensure this project became a reality.

While the project has certainly had its fair share of critics, it has also enjoyed successes  and hosted many truly world class events to the pleasure and delight of citizens throughout the region.

One particular fact I found of interest was a 2004-2005 feasibility report that had suggested it was possible to draw an average of 1,800 fans to a Penticton Vees game.

At the time, I can recall critics who had  suggested there was no way that a BCHL franchise could draw that kind of support.

Some suggested that a WHL franchise should be pursued to bolster those kinds of attendance projections.

And yet here we are in 2012 and the Penticton Vees not only met these projections, they have actually exceeded them. In fact the Penticton Vees lead the entire BCHL in average attendance that now exceeds 2100 fans per game.

That is not to suggest that there are not still challenges for the SOEC however credit to the Penticton Vees organization and the hockey community in general for coming out in support of a game we all enjoy greatly here in the South Okanagan.

On a different but related theme I am also told that new Skaha Bluffs Provincial park site is also being extremely well attended by a diverse range of users.

If you have not yet taken a trip up to this new provincial park it is truly a beautiful site and you may well encounter some bighorn mountain sheep as well.

It is important to recognize what began as a struggle to obtain legal access ultimately turned into another asset for this great part of the province that we live in.

It is also encouraging that throughout our region we continue to identify and open up more parks and walking trails and in turn the public is increasingly making use of them.

On another related theme it is refreshing to have discussions about our B.C. health care system that can also include the fact that British Columbians now are amongst some of the healthiest and most active in all of Canada.

It is not a coincidence in my view that the efforts to promote a healthy and active lifestyle are starting to produce results that mean life expectancy is longer in B.C. then in other provinces and even our cancer outcomes are increasingly more successful.

As we return to work from another holiday Easter weekend I am hopeful that many of you had a chance to spend time with your family and friends.

We are all extremely fortunate to live in a region like the Okanagan and I am confident that if we continue to work together as we have in the past our quality of life in the South Okanagan will continue to lead the way.

Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.


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