Richard Barkwill

Richard Barkwill

When Summerland council voted last year to confirm a solar project for the district, we endorsed it.

Who, after all, doesn’t like the idea of clean energy?

This was also Summerland’s opportunity to stand above the rest in the valley, showing their tiny community is progressive.

But, in February, Coun. Richard Barkwill — backed by his own exhaustive research — brought forward a list of concerns.

Critics of Barkwill will ask “Why did he wait so long?,” but when something appears to be wrong, it’s up to the elected official to bring it to the attention of council and the taxpayers.

Barkwill’s critics are also pointing out that “he’s wrong.”

We then ask, as Summerland resident Susan McIver suggested in a recent letter to the editor, for staff and his fellow councillors to go through his data line by line and offer rebuttals, quoting credible sources.

Nobody has done that yet.

Using a hockey analogy, if Barkwill said Gordie Howe is the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, he’s wrong and should be corrected. (It’s Wayne Gretzky.)

If Barkwill said Bobby Orr is the greatest player of all-time, that’s his opinion.

That’s the difference between fact and opinion.

Barkwill’s letter to council, published online by The Herald, is a matter of public record. The public should take the time to read it.

So where should council go from here?

Barkwill has created enough uncertainty that it should at least go to a referendum before the district gobbles up $6 million in federal funding and spends $1 million of its own.

A referendum (or in the case of Penticton at the time of the prison — an opinion poll) would be best... but expensive. (Although the district would have spent that money had Toni Boot been elected MLA.)

We suggest hiring a professional polling company, such as Oraclepoll, as many municipalities in Quebec do. It costs about $2,500. It’s random, unbiased and scientific within 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The solar project may indeed be an outstanding idea, but there are still too many unanswered questions that need to be addressed.

James Miller is director of content for The Penticton Herald. Email: editor@pentictonherald.ca