An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE SPECTRE OF BUSINESS in Riverside Park has raised its head again and will undoubtedly raise the hackles of those who think anything that smacks of profit-making must be banned forever.
A couple of unspecified business ideas have been received at the committee stage, which will likely re-open the general issue for discussion at City council.
The record of proposals for developing the park is pretty much zero per cent. The plan to build a humongous year-round market on the Heritage House parking lot is not taking off, just as an earlier plan to build a parkade there was defeated by residents worried about the view.
Even more famously, a hotel in the smaller lot beside Sandman Centre met with huge public objections, though it was eventually abandoned for other reasons.
But it’s not an either-or situation. Developments with big footprints that would fundamentally alter the park should be rejected out of hand, but smaller commercial activity could actually enhance it.
A few years ago, there was a proposal to establish a tubing rental kiosk on the river shore. That was rejected by the city but it was exactly the kind of business that might work there.
If somebody can rent tubes or miniature sailboats or sell some trinkets, and it adds to the fun, why not? And there’s no need to restrict such things to the outer edges — let them into designated zones inside the park.
Last summer, the City decided not to open the old concession and instead allowed food trucks in, with mixed success. So even a small coffee shop along the beach would be just fine.
Sometimes we generalize too much. It’s not that all business is bad; it’s only a matter of choosing the right ones.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.