EDITORIAL: Parks talks must be public

Greater Vernon politicians need to be reminded who they work for

It’s time to remind some Greater Vernon politicians who they work for.

The Regional District of North Okanagan is trying to set up another round of talks to hopefully resolve the woefully painful parks and recreation dispute. But it has been suggested by some that the process should be behind closed doors.

“It changes the dynamic when it’s public,” said director Doug Dirk.

Obviously an audience can lead to posturing and theatrics, but having the public present can also result in accountability and elected officials feeling the pressure to come up with compromises.

Dirk goes on to say that “these are negotiations and you don’t negotiate in a forum.” But virtually all of the previous sessions have been open to the public, so what makes this round different?

There are items that are considered confidential under provincial legislation — labour, legal and land — and if specific situations arise, the politicians can go behind closed doors. But most of the talks are general in nature and deal with which facilities should remain in the function, how the service should be governed and if there should even be a partnership.

All Greater Vernon residents have a vested interest in the outcome of this process. Parks, recreation and culture are those amenities that people feel a deep connection to, and they also make up a considerable portion of the tax bill. They need to know what is going on, either by attending the meetings themselves or accessing the information through the media,

In the end, if the politicians believe they are doing what is best for their constituents, what do they have to hide?

– Vernon Morning Star