Concerns remain about parks and rec master plan

 Save Skaha Park Society encourages residents to have their say on draft master plan

The reasons might vary, but if there is one thing the City of Penticton and the Save Skaha Park Society might agree on, it’s the need for residents to be involved in the process of creating a parks and recreation master plan.

The second draft of the plan is available online now, and the city has set May 1 for an open house on the plan.

The society, who, along with Penticton Citizen’s First, led a successful opposition to the city leasing a portion of Skaha Lake Park for a waterslide development, continues to have concerns with the approach to parks expressed in the draft master plan.

“From what we have seen thus far, we do not feel it will not provide the guidance our city needs in planning our parks for the next 10 years and beyond,” reads the release.

“Lack of trust is a fundamental barrier to real progress in maximizing the benefit of our parks to our quality of life and our environment. It is the elephant in the room and it needs to be dealt with openly.”

The SSPS suggest the master plan, which will be a guiding document for the city rather than policy, should include an amendment to the 2002 Parks Dedication Bylaw.

According to the society, the 2002 referendum question asked voters to agree (yes or no) to accept the bylaw dedicating 12 parcels of city-owned land as public park land.

“However, the bylaw that was adopted (93 per cent approval of the electors) included a clause that reads, in part, ‘Council may from time to time lease or license all or part of the public park land’,” reads the SSPS release. “We believe that the city relied on this clause to justify leasing 20 per cent of Skaha Park for commercial development without first obtaining approval of the electors.”

The SSPS said the master plan fails to address issues directly and make firm statements.

“The report uses deliberately ambiguous language, such as ‘inappropriate development’ rather than ‘commercial development,’ and ‘preferably unencumbered’ rather than just ‘unencumbered.’ This is misleading,” according to the society.

The SSPS, like the city, is encouraging concerned residents to attend the May 1 open house at the Trade and Convention Centre. The draft plan can also be reviewed, and feedback given, online at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca. In the week since the draft plan was released, only one comment has been made in the discussion forum.

The SSPS is also concerned the draft master plan, prepared by consultants from Urban Systems, diminishes the opposition against large scale commercial developments in parks, describing the community as divided regarding amusements in parks.

Instead, the society describes the opposition to commercial developments as “overwhelming” noting “several rallies attended by hundreds; petitions with over 8,000 signatures and letters to the editor (96 per cent opposed to commercialization).”

A July 2016 telephone survey by Urban Systems showed support for small food vendors and concessions, along with small merchandise vendors.

Comments collected during the survey show that when it comes to new commercial uses in parks, 26 per cent (50) of the 193 comments opposed the idea altogether, and another 21 per cent (41) opposed waterpark or waterslide developments. At the other end of the spectrum, only 18 comments were in favour of waterslides or waterparks, and another five responded that any new commercial uses were OK.

 


Too much ambiguity on Skaha Park agreement

I attended the public meeting on Wednesday night at the convention centre where our mayor, along with council, two city staff members, the city lawyer, two Trio Marine members and their lawyer were present.

Something I, and many others, can’t comprehend, is the lease itself. One councillor said that Trio did not fulfill their obligations so the lease is dead. However, there was much disagreement between everyone else up on that stage.

Who doesn’t know what is going on? This one councillor, the mayor and the rest of council, the city lawyer, or Trio?

I don’t understand how there can be such ambiguity on this foremost major item between all the parties involved and we were not given a straight-forward answer to the many times that question was put forward. What the heck is going on?

Regarding the 29-year lease, plus the possible two five-year extensions and first right of proposal for other amenities (concessions, etc.) because Trio “doesn’t want any competition” is a farce as well. If a business needs 29 years to make a go of it, then they either need someone with actual business sense and experience or forget about the project in the first place.

I heard $1.5 million dollars Trio has invested and they need to recoup. How many people spend that amount for their house? But, this is a business we are talking about, something wrong there.

Why the city has to pay back some of Trio’s expenses as a compromise is another farce. That is the price of doing business.  Suck it up, Trio! Penticton mayor, city council and city staff, please get your act together, use your common sense, abide by your obligations that you have been elected for and set this issue at rest once and for all. Get rid of Trio Marine and don’t sell the farm unnecessarily to do so!

Kathy Krenn

Penticton



 

City of Penticton council agreements

As printed in the Western News Friday, Dec. 2  edition,  in reference to the Skaha Park dilemma, one of our council is quoted as saying, “Personally, I would have liked to see a waterslide.”

Really? We have two beautiful lakes here. Why would you want to see some structure on our beaches that will surely one day become just another eyesore for the public to have to endure and wonder how long it will take before that dilapidated old structure will be removed.  Just as has happened at least two times already in Penticton’s past history.

There is only one purpose that a slide would serve anyone.  And that would be the one that gets to put your money into their own pockets.  We all know that, well, some of us.

Those of us who oppose the destruction of our public parks. Ask yourself this…”what benefit will your children gain by simply taking an instantaneous ride down the slide.  What benefit will it serve their future?  How about this…spend that money on having your children learn how to swim, in one of our beautiful lakes or at an indoor pool.

Now imagine how much more beneficial that accomplishment could possibly benefit your child later in their life, as compared to giving your money away for a few seconds of screams. Now tell me I’m wrong.

Joan Johnson

Penticton

 



 

What a joke

I see despite overwhelming opposition, letters to the editor, rallies and lawsuits that council approved the deal with Trio Marine and gave them their 29-year lease.

They are also going to forgive the outstanding $36,000 in unpaid rent and compensate them $40,000 for the loss of the waterslides.

Are you kidding me? Why are mayor and council bending over so far backwards to accommodate Trio Marine? Something really, really stinks here.

I have only two things to say in response. The first is directed at mayor and council. Don’t even bother putting your name in the hat in 2018, because you have effectively just committed political suicide. The second thing I want to say is as far as I am concerned, this whole deal is so dirty, I could write a commercial for Tide.

Mark Billesberger

Penticton



 

Questions to raise for Penticton council

I will personally be away, so when you attend the Nov. 23 Skaha Park meeting, you should consider having council explain the Parks and Recreation Zoning bylaw,

Permitted uses 1) carnival, 2) community garden 3) government service 4) indoor recreation 5) marina 6) outdoor amusement, entertainment and recreation 7) outdoor market 8) public parking lot and 9) accessory use, building or structure.

Is it possible to further refine the above permitted uses or do we simply remove item three, six and nine from permitted uses.

If items three, six and nine were removed from permitted uses, then council would then be forced to present a referendum question to be placed before the electorate to approve the requested uses of park lands. The electorate would then vote via a referendum question to approve or deny the requested use that has been proposed by council.

Further, someone needs to question council on the legalities of securing the dedication of Skaha Park and other park lands on title.

A recent article noted that Summerland will use this method to protect Conkle Mountain as a park in perpetuity. Certain non eligible park uses today would not be enforced by city employees, which will reduce any conflicts with current park users.  According to the article, Ian McIntosh (director of development services), states that this form of park dedication is the most power tool to protect the park and only the electorate can undo the dedication.

Mayor Jakubeit and council have indicated to me that the parks and recreation committee will accomplish the same goal, however, the parks and recreation committee are not permitted to make any  binding recommendations on Skaha Park.

If you can comprehend this comment, please call me and explain where I am lacking understanding on the process in progress.

Penticton residents, you need to negotiate the level of park protection that you envision today and for the lands into the future.

An individual at the parks meeting stated that when Okanagan Lake Park was protected 35 years ago, that the parks and recreation zoning bylaw should also been amended at the same time. We now learn that of our mistakes in the past, come back to haunt us.

Ted Wiltse

Penticton



 

Tear up Skaha Park contracts

You know of course the “new amenities” agreement of 150-plus pages is just more smoke and mirrors on part of city council and Trio Marine Group.

The only possible solution is to tear up all Trio Marine agreements  with the City of Penticton.

Tear up all contracts, including the marina at Skaha Lake. No contract with the Trio — period.

We don’t want any more intrusions or any further commercialization of any of our park lands, especially Skaha Park, the jewel of Penticton.

No more commercial footprints, other to what’s already existing there, no further expansion. And, no more 39 (40) year leases, preposterous! Two generations give away (almost a sale).

Negotiate or buy out, I’m not even sure we need to negotiate.

This is the only practical solution! And, let the healing begin.

Cheryl and Georges Jansen

Penticton



 

Environmental issues don’t have political boundaries

It is disheartening and disappointing to see engaged citizens (Penticton Western News, Nov. 16, Unanswered questions on conservation fund ) write inaccuracies, reminiscent of some politicians writers so commonly castigate.

First off, the proposed conservation fund has absolutely nothing to do with the Skaha Park-Trio fiasco or the future needs of Penticton’s infrastructure. It is solely about addressing some of the needs of the environment in the South Okanagan including Penticton (none of the Similkameen portion of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is included in this bylaw).

There is no way to predict that the majority of the funding will be spent outside of Penticton. Environmental issues do not follow political boundaries.

Residents understand that habitat, water and wildlife exist within, and across our community boundaries. It is heartening to see elected officials from municipalities and the regional district are co-operating regionally for conservation. Penticton has a great need for conservation and restoration within the city boundaries — certainly the needs exceed the funds available. Some examples are fish habitat restoration on Penticton and Ellis Creek’s, continuing restoration of the Oxbows (the first work only began this year), wetlands restoration (including those adjacent to Skaha Park), etc. The salmon spawning beds enhancement that recently took place in Penticton on the Okanagan River was not funded by the City of Penticton — should that work have not been undertaken because Penticton didn’t contribute?

It is misinformation that fund costs in other areas soon increased to $25 per property.  To the best of my knowledge, there are five regional districts with some form of conservation fund and only one has increased the levy — the Capital Regional District increased the amount after 10 years when the citizens voted to increase it. Yes, the fund was so successful, the residents actually voted to double the levy from $10 to $20. The East Kootenay Regional District established their fund in 2008 at $20/parcel and it has remained so with no plan to increase it. Projects will be evaluated by an independent committee and go ahead only after approval by those municipal and rural elected officials who represent their constituents at the RDOS Board — the administration of the funds will not be in private hands. Those that want to be against the fun,  should do it with the facts, not mistruths and misinformation.

Robert Handfield

Kaleden



 

Skaha Park is perfect as is

Are you kidding me city hall?

This new smoke screen agreement still leases out the park less the splashpad. Section A of the ha, ha enhanced lease clearly shows the same section of Skaha Park being leased less the splashpad. What part of no loss of greenspace and leave our park alone don’t you understand? Ahhh, right, you don’t read the newspapers and have no idea what is going on in your city, I forgot.

I am extremely curious as to why senior staff, mayor and council are still full speed ahead with such public disapproval of leasing parkland and from a company. Part of the agreement is waiving the $38,601 rent and taxes for 2016.

This is November and this has still not been paid by Trio? What would the city do if your property taxes were $38,601 in arrears?

No city on this planet is this dumb to continue/pursue with a business that cannot even pay current obligations. Are they assuming they will find investors for this projects? And, speaking of finances, how much in wages and expenses has the city of Penticton spent on this new lease? How much on legal fees to date? How can the public obtain this information? Which senior staff is responsible for these leases against public wishes? And why don’t we just pay Trio off for which the mayor quoted as $200,000 and put an end to all this? Bam. Done. No deal.

The park would be left as a park for which it was originally intended.

Put the marina property/building to tender to find someone who can prove immediately they have the capital to finance the marina only project. No concessions, no park, no beach, just marina property only. This would also ensure the boat launch would still be available.

This is what the public expected, not another sell-out. There will not be community peace and  a beautiful park as is in this community if the deal involves Trio Marine as they have no respect to leave the park as it was originally intended.

Sorry Bob the Builder, Skaha Park does not need a facelift, it is already perfect.

Clifford Martin

Penticton

 



 

Update us Trio

Penticton city council is unwilling, or unable, to provide anything substantial by way of information on the new “enhanced” arrangement with the Trio Group.

Perhaps Trio themselves, in person, could shed some light on their new plans to improve Skaha Lake Park and life in Penticton for us all. There may only be two partners now, they could also update us on this as well.

John McLeod

Penticton



 

Penticton park still in jeopardy

Red alert!

I would like to point out this mayor and council’s sole interest is to commercialize our parks, the crown jewels, and a major reason why tourists come to this town.

We have totally buried Queen’s Park under concrete. It used to have soccer fields, baseball fields, Memorial Arena, the rodeo grounds and the circus. That’s all gone with the exception of Memorial Arena and the baseball field. LocoLanding and Lakawanna East should be under zoning of amusement parks.

I would like to reflect on the mayor’s comment of a waterslide. His comment was the waterslide wasn’t a bad idea but it was the communication that was the problem.

The problem was, Mr. Mayor, you were eating up approximately 27 per cent of Skaha Lake Park, paid for by the taxpayers for their enjoyment and not to give Trio a 40-year lease. The Parks Master Plan Committee is overseen by you, a councillor plus two committee members employed by the city. Being present at the committee’s last meeting as an observer, the committee had not determined what a park is and when it was explained to them in detail by a committee member most members didn’t seem to understand.

How can you move forward or even give a presentation to the public without understanding the definition of a park?

Commercial was not a part of the definition. In the committee’s mandate, they have a section to justify commercial in parks. Their conclusions and opinions cannot be presented to the public until they have an understanding of what they are talking about.

The new agreement with Trio still leaves these lands of the original agreement vulnerable. The marina is commercial, we recognize that, and it is causing irritation with all of us trying to understand the agreements.

Why don’t we subdivide the marina out of the park without abusing Skaha Lake Park?

Peter Osborne

Penticton