Well-organized grad played by all the rules

Dear Editor:

Re: The Okanagan Weekend front-page story, “Boucherie graduates gather.”

First of all, I would like to extend my huge thanks to the parents that organized this walk around the Waterfront Park. They were very organized. Unfortunately sensational reporting has turned this lovely day into something else.

I do not know who took the picture or who decided to do the write up but I, as a grandmother of one the graduates, am appalled at what was written because it is not what I saw.

Even in this picture you can pick out the groups of people at the most 10 to a group. This was when the families were trying to have pictures of their son/daughter graduation fun.

This group was a small part of the whole group, as there were people across the walkway also having pictures taken.

I do not believe there were hundreds of people, but if you count the people who were there on bicycles and walking, there probably were, but they were not the grads and their families.

I was truly offended by your article. The grads walked six feet apart around the perimeter of the stage area of Waterfront Park. The parents were all lined up on the grass keeping their distance.

My grandson did not recognize me because I had a hat, sun glasses and mask on when I went to congratulate him. I also saw lots of people with masks.

If you want to be critical about this COVID problem how about doing an article on the amount of people from out of province that are here in Kelowna bringing their bugs with them.

I have seen Washington, Hawaii, U.S. Government plates, as well as many from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and even Quebec (but they may be workers for the farms just passing through). Why are they here? We in the Okanagan have been lucky and not too many people have come down with the virus, but then again we have isolated ourselves and stayed home.

That is not the scene now as I look at the amount of traffic each day on our roads. Looks like nothing has changed from three months ago.

Peachland had a grad walk and also yesterday I saw one of the classes of grads in Vernon have their walk as well.

Lynda Bjalek, Kelowna

Parents, grads show no concern for public health

Dear Editor:

Mocking, entitled, shallow, disrespectful, enabled — these are just a few words to describe the students (and parents) from Mount Boucherie Secondary School who took part in a graduation event on Friday at Rhapsody Plaza in Kelowna.

They were obviously above following the guidelines laid down by the province to protect the citizens of B.C.

They felt that provincial health rules didn’t apply to them because they were entitled to have a grad celebration.

Their actions made a mockery of those companies that were either forced or voluntarily curtailed their operations to safeguard people’s health — at huge financial cost to themselves, their employees and suppliers.

Those companies’ actions are part of what has made living in the Okanagan a relatively safe place to live. This bunch of entitled people doesn’t care about that. Their own selfish behavior demonstrates what they think is important.

Being seen wearing their pretty dresses and smart suits, whilst not social distancing or wearing masks (might detract from their finery) was just too important to them.

I mean, for goodness sake! The participants had bought their dresses before the pandemic. So wearing them in public obviously trumped health rules.

They got their own way because they flouted the recommendations and were willing to sully the good name of their school for their own selfish ends.

Shame on the parents who enabled their kids in this. And what an excellent, misguided way to demonstrate their pride in their kids.

Mount Boucherie Secondary School, in line with others, cancelled graduation celebrations due to COVID-19. Recognizing the impact this would have on students, many schools and communities then worked hard to create different forms of virtual or non contact grads.

I am disappointed that so many students (and their parents) demonstrated such shallow thinking and disrespect for the safety of others.

My congratulations go to those parents and students of Mount Boucherie Secondary School who followed guidelines and avoided this “celebration.”

Heather Yeats, West Kelowna

You can win at city hall – maybe even tonight

Dear Editor:

It was gratifying to see the prominence Managing Editor Dave Trifunov gave in his editorial Wednesday (Yes you can fight city hall, but win?) to the outlandish proposal for a hotel at 2169 Pandosy St. and Royal Avenue, kitty-corner from the hospital.

This hotel, restaurant and retail complex is the height of absurdity in an established residential neighbourhood. The traffic alone, going through the adjacent streets (actually the back lane, which will be the only hotel access) will be intolerable for residents.

The issue of the demise of Collett Manor, a registered heritage house, has been glossed over, in part, due to the developer’s erroneous claim the house is to be conserved. What she is actually planning is to dismantle the house, and re-assemble the facade on three sides attached to a new building. This is in no way a heritage conservation project.

In less than the past year, the city has endorsed, or turned a blind eye to the demise of three heritage houses: 450 Cadder Ave. (Aitkens House – 1919) mysteriously “disappeared,” leaving only one wall behind, and a new much larger house was built; 1869 Abbott St., once again in the guise of heritage conservation, was approved to be re-located, and turned on the lot, destroying major architectural features that make this house unique; and 409 Park Ave. (Groves House – 1907), which was demolished this spring. Now, the owners have applied to subdivide the lot.

I have been advised the city’s intent is to “re-think the Conservation Area.” Translation: Remove the development guidelines adopted when the Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area was created in 1998. Why? To allow commercial development to spread south of the highway.

Also, to allow “densification,” that word that makes many of us wince. The ASHCA is a tiny portion of Kelowna, but one much sought after by residents and tourists alike. Tell council to leave ASHCA and heritage alone, starting with Collett Manor.

I don’t agree with the editor’s contention you can’t beat city hall. You can, and we have.

Citizens fought for and succeeded in getting the conservation area created in 1998. In 2004, an ad hoc coalition of neighbourhood associations, business owners, and citizens at large stopped Pandosy and Richter from being turned into one-way streets.

It took 800 plus people to come out to the public hearing for us to succeed then, and it’s possible to succeed in defeating this hotel project now! There’s no time like tonight to start! See you at City Hall.

Valerie Hallford, Kelowna

This is an edited version of a guest column submission that appeared earlier in the opinion section.

99 years too long to tie up valuable piece of land

Dear Editor:

News that City Hall has signed a 99-year lease for the old ‘cop shop’ property is disheartening. Once paved and built upon, the decision locks our grandchildren and even our great grandchildren into an agreement which, while it may be legal, is certainly questionable and challenges the purpose of civic centres and the importance of land use planning.

Kelowna, as a town, is 115 years old. Today the community bears little resemblance to its early self. Think back 99 years: Kelowna in 1921 was still dealing with the dwindling waves of the Spanish Flu pandemic; about 2,500 people lived in the small town, and very few buildings from that time continue to exist: Central School, St. Michael’s Cathedral, the BC Dragoon Armoury, the Glenn Avenue School, now the Boys and Girls Club, and the oft-restored Guisachan House and Benvoulin Church. Perhaps a few more, but not many.

During the intervening years, land use priorities have changed, our economy has undergone several evolutions, and Kelowna has become a very different city to what is was 99 years ago.

In spite of this reality, city council has seen fit to now lock this land into a 13-storey — though maybe more — luxury residential and commercial development by leasing the property for a term almost equivalent to our city’s entire existence. And for a remarkable net amount of $2.7 million, or about $273,000 a year — in today’s dollars — for the next 99 years. There is no mention of an inflationary adjustment of those figures.

By freezing the land use and accepting such a meagre return for this unique piece of city-owned land, council has eliminated the potential for citizen-driven initiatives that could enhance its use for the enjoyment and benefit all citizens. The decision was made without meaningful consultation and is a shameful abdication of council’s responsibility to act in the best interests of our community. For today and into the future.

Sharron J Simpson, Kelowna