Overall, the vote was resoundingly against the aquatic centre, so, at least for a while, the poisonous atmosphere generated by the warring sides will hopefully moderate. I can’t remember a time during the past twenty years in Princeton when so much venom, through diarrhea of the pen and the tongue, has been generated over a local issue.
Of course it would be ideal if the town had an aquatic centre, but not at any cost. There will, no doubt, be opportunities in the future to revisit the proposal when the public is better informed and cooler heads prevail. Recreational facilities are an asset to the well being of the locals, proven by the popularity of our golf course, curling rink, arena and bowling alley as examples. But let’s no go bonkers over needing expensive facilities as, an excuse to keep fit, as if it wasn’t possible to improve our lifestyle by simple activities such as walking, hiking, bicycling, yoga or many other activities that only require motivation.
Priorities change with the times, but it was mind boggling to me when our railway was abandoned and hardly a whimper was heard anywhere east of hope. When the right-of-way was converted for recreational purposes general exuberance erupted. Then, after the trestles burned down in the Okanagan, there was such an outpouring of hair tearing and tears. Never mind that our railway is gone, recreation comes first.
On that note, let us assess our priorities at this time. For Princeton, and Area H residents, can any recreational pursuit compete in importance against the need for enhanced health care? Not a chance! The perpetual pruning of local health services over at least the last decade has progressed at an alarming rate. Now, even our emergency department is not always guaranteed to be open. If we are to find our way to the NEAREST hospital, what happens if we don’t drive and need to travel to Penticton? Parents must be hoping that their infants or children don’t become ill or injured at the wrong time. How ludicrous is that for a population such as Princeton and Area H combined? Centralization of health services in the Interior Health Region has been the main culprit. The vast majority of new residents flooding into the Southern Interior are drawn to the areas of Penticton, Kelowna and Kamloops not only for work and retirement, but also to be in close proximity to comprehensive health services.
Is it possible that in the coming years small towns will be left to die on the vine? After all, how much political clout do they have individually? Every town endangered by meager or inadequate health services is most likely involved in a losing battle when attempting to negotiate a better deal for its inhabitants. If our residents wish to create an uproar and at the same time instill a bond rather than a poisonous divide, why not be bound to crusade for the rejuvenation of our hospital?
For instance, Princeton town council in conjunction with Area H could attempt to form a union of sorts with other remote or semi-remote small towns in order to pressure the provincial government for improvements, after all, there is safety in numbers. The aim of the organization could be to acquire an agreement form the B.C. government that a certain level of services would need to guarantee a fully operating emergency department in towns (1500 or more in population for instance) more than an hours travel from a major hospital. Some might say that this concept wouldn’t have a chance of succeeding, but small towns must gang together in a one for all and all for one mode rather than competing against one another for funds.
“Swim together or sink,” might be an appropriate statement at this time.