The city will look for ways to co-operate with the Penticton Indian Band in maintaining the Okanagan River Channel. Penticton council made that decision after receiving a letter from the band, reminding the city that the maintenance of the popular tourist attraction benefits both partners and falls under a cost-sharing agreement that sees the city provide in-kind support. Coun. Mike Pearce opposed the decision, citing financial concerns. The channel draws hundreds, if not thousands of daily users during the hot summer months. Using floatation devices of all sorts, users can be seen floating down the channel during the height of the tourism season. The path running along the channel also draws thousands of users year-round.Coun. Judy Sentes pointed to heavy use during her remarks in favour of working with the band. She also reminded council that Penticton is a tourism town whose reputation depends in part on cleanliness. Coun. Dan Albas agreed. “There is money we can find,” he said.
But Pearce said he is not sure that the city can afford the band’s request. The city’s in-kind support translates into real dollars and staff time, he said, noting that the channel and the path along it are outside city limits. “We have to stop somewhere,” he said. He also suggested that if the band had concerns about maintaining the channel, it should take their complaints to Coyote Cruises. The company runs a shuttle service from the north end of the channel to designated stops along the channel.This drew critical remarks from Mayor Dan Ashton. “It (the channel) is enjoyed by all,” said Ashton, noting that the band actually owns and operates Coyote Cruises. He also suggested that working with the band on this issue would go a long way towards deepening and improving relations with the band.