Dangerous footing for city council

What a frustrating and utterly disappointing evening at the city council meeting on Monday night.

Despite over 30 concerned citizens passionately voicing/pleading their opposition to the proposed waterslide in Skaha Lake Park, council voted 5-2 to support the application. They voted in favour of a 39-year lease of public land, bought by generations of taxpayers and donations from service clubs.

Council, in their shortsightedness and lust for tourist dollars, have decided to basically steal 20 per cent of our beautiful waterfront park and give it to a profit-driven enterprise for their use exclusively. What was once a beloved natural green space for us all to enjoy will soon be a megalithic, plastic, chlorinated structure making the park totally unrecognizable.

The vast majority of speakers stated repeatedly that they weren’t opposed to the waterslide itself, but to the proposed location. Even though this statement was reiterated many times by many speakers, council didn’t get it. It fell on deaf ears.

Council responded by saying some “massaging” of parking configuration and admission costs would be reviewed. There are many empty, privately-owned lots within Penticton and on the Penticton Indian Band land that would be more suitable and equally profitable.

Public land being handed over for exclusive use of a private business is abhorrent. Certainly there is a conflict of interest here. How can council financially benefit from a business relationship based on city land and still be mandated to protect and ensure the sanctity of that same land?

We can’t blame Trio Marine group, whoever they are. Who wouldn’t want their tourist-based business given to them in a well used public waterfront park? It’s this city council who is to blame, and who are treading on dangerous footing.

If you opposed the waterslide park or its proposed location in Skaha Lake Park, please sign the petition at: www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-our-green-space-in-skaha-park.

This council needs to be ejected from power before they pave over every green space we have.

Mary Cawthorne



Irony of council’s decision

Procedures for land use within a municipality are set out in the Municipal Charter.

They are there to guide councils through rezoning of private property and publicly owned land. The regulations are very specific in how public hearings are to be conducted, they are there to protect elected councillors and municipality’s from neglecting their authority and being biased in their decision to either side of the application.  The regulations specifically direct councils to go into a public hearing with an open mind.

I, along with many other residents at Monday’s public hearing to consider a private commercial development in Skaha Lake Park, certainly didn’t witness that open-minded approach to the decision made by this council.

Skaha Park has been expanded over the last 50 years by councils purchasing surrounding private properties.  Millions of tax dollars have been spent over those years to expand the park. Past councils in their reasoning to expand the park recognized the need of the growing population of the city.

At the conclusion of the public hearing two councillors said their children wanted them to vote in favour of the waterpark and one councillor said she was influenced by people at the farmers’ market?

I’m not sure what persuaded the other councillors to vote in favour other than to suggest the waterpark would be good for tourism. That begs the question, don’t tourists like natural parks and open space (natural beauty)? It also begs the question why lose a large portion of the park for two months of the summer season?

Five councillors voted in favour, the other two were supportive but wanted staff to find ways to compensate public concerns.

It was obvious the majority of council did not go into the public hearing with an open mind. They certainly didn’t to the majority of the public who took the time to register their opposition to the encroachment of a commercial development into a publicly owned open green space.

Are we then, as concerned citizens wasting our time presenting our interests at public hearings in front of this council?

Is this council now going to conduct public process on land use by consulting with their children at their dinner table or at the farmers’ market? It would seem so!

The irony to councils decision, was to pass a motion that the city’s share of the profits from the waterpark would go towards the purchase of “new parkland.”

So you destroy established parkland to buy more parkland. Oh dear go figure!

Jake Kimberley



Pay attention to Skaha proposal

Dear Editor:

Wake up Penticton!

Further to the letter written by Harvey Quamme (Herald, June 23), I could not agree more. The proposal for the water park/mini golf/ expanded marina should not be allowed to proceed.

Please go to the website and sign the petition against this proposal. At present, there are fewer than 100 names on the petition and the goal is 1,000-plus by Monday night’s meeting.

I urge all citizens who use this beautiful green space to sign the petition.

Chris MacKay



Will the waterslides be council’s legacy?

Dear Editor:

I am against the commercial development of parks and green spaces. Taxpayers use those areas all year.

Mini golf and waterslides will sit empty for months with no revenue coming in. An inflatable waterslide can be put away for the winter — no revenue necessary. Mini golf can be put anywhere. Parking is a question. Will more green space go later for parking? The boathouse needs to be upgraded — not moved to an inconvenient location.

Taxpayers paid for city parks and green space. We all need free parks to play in. City Hall is giving them away with little chance of having the money to replace them.

Big question. If this development fails financially does City Hall have enough gravel to cover a waterslide? Will that be this council’s legacy?

Lynn Crassweller



More consultation on Skaha parkland

The  Western News readers poll question on May 21 was “Should the city be leasing out such a large portion of Skaha Beach for private development?”

Now that more, but still rather vague, information is available about the development plans by the Trio Marine Group to use quite a large area of Skaha Lake Beach parkland for a commercial waterslide park, there is even more reason to answer that question with a resounding no.

In this day and age, with even the Pope being concerned about the mess we make of our planet it would be a crime to take away a lovely piece of city beach and green parkland and put up some kind of noisy Vegas-type entertainment centre surrounded by wire fencing to be used no more than three months out of the year and probably mostly by tourists.

I am all for progress, but city council should remember that most taxpayers here, and especially living on this side of town, are 65-plus and it will be doubtful if you would see many of us ever sliding down those slippery slides.

Do we need more chlorinated water being pumped into our lake or sewer system?

It is now a safe and quiet park and many of us find it enjoyable to sit on one of the many benches to watch the comings and going of the dragon boats and enjoying the beautiful view over the lake.

The proposed waterslide area is used by dragon boaters and the land in question is a welcome shady area during the annual dragon boat festival.

With the waterslide developed the kiddies splash park will be gone, and said to be later replaced with another. Where it is now is perfectly situated with the many picnic tables in between both playgrounds where families sit and the kids can go from one to the other.

Many a birthday party are being celebrated there as it is such a great and safe spot for families with young children.

Quite a few of those lovely shady trees are dedicated to loved ones, well they will be gone.

The new signs which were recently put at either end of the park will be outdated and guess who will be paying for new ones?

There should be more public consultation available when such drastic changes are made to public areas.

Please do not ruin our lovely peaceful beach and green parkland as with these proposed plans. It will make a negative change for citizens and visitors alike.

Elaine Vonck



Marina cause water pollution

Dear Editor:

There are so many questions and issues raised by the Skaha Marina proposal that I hardly know where to start. So much of the proposal has nothing to do with building and operating a marina.

It seems to me to allow a private developer to build a “for profit” operation on city-owned (public) park land is inherently a very bad idea. I refer here to their proposed waterslide.   The park already has a free water attraction for kids built by Rotary. I wonder how interested Rotary will be in the future to contribute to Penticton if they know their project might disappear to allow a developer access to public land.

Another issue concerns the proponent’s plans for a beer and wine outlet: it is illegal to operate a watercraft under the influence of alcohol and it is also illegal to consume alcohol in a public place (i.e. the beach) and furthermore there is already an outlet less than one km away on Skaha Lake Road. It strikes me as totally inappropriate. Would we allow car rental companies to open wine and beer outlets as part of their operations? (Full disclosure: I drink wine and other alcoholic beverages!)

As to the marina proposal itself, a number of issues arise concerning the large increase in the number of boats to be berthed.  It is widely accepted that marinas are a significant source of pollution, including but not limited to, the gasoline used by the boats.  Skaha Lake is not owned by Penticton – it is a significant resource for a much broader community. Kaleden, Heritage Hills, and Skaha Estates get their domestic and agricultural water from the lake and I suspect that much of Okanagan Falls’ water is also lake water as their community wells are generally pretty shallow.

Recently the local First Nations have been having considerable success bringing sockeye salmon back to the Okanagan River and Skaha Lake. It seems to me that an increase in water pollution associated with a marina should be looked at very, very thoughtfully.  Water pollution associated with marinas should not be dismissed lightly.  At the very least, the proponents should be required to adhere to the guidelines published by Environment Canada and several U.S. agencies that are meant to prevent pollution, not mitigate it.

Just a few of the questions that need to be asked:

  • Will there be a pump-out station for those boats that have waste systems?
  • Will there be a separate fuel station for personal watercraft (much of what I’ve read says PWC’s require a separate area)?
  • Will there be maintenance
  • allowed at the marina and if so, will there be a waste disposal system for used oil, marine cleaning fluids, etc.?
  • Will there be a limitation on the types of boats allowed on Skaha Lake or will we end up with the large noisy boats that often roar up and down Okanagan Lake? I refer to “cigarette boats”, not ordinary skiing boats. Skaha Lake is after all a pretty small lake and its shores are fairly densely populated compared to much of Okanagan Lake.

I suggest that Pentictonites and their council should really rethink this matter.

Robert Handfield




The real question

To waterslide or not to waterslide is not the question.

To divide, lease, and lose land that is public to any private enterprise is the question.

To change what many people and dollars have wisely spent to make a beautiful and diverse park into something else (no matter how well designed) makes no sense.

Change does not necessarily mean it is progress.  It is often regress until people do a full circle and come around again.

All the best to Trio Marine Group and any others that would like to set up an adventure playground-in any of the many available spaces, which are not public property.  It would be much more profitable on the Penticton Indian Band land which is more than willing, I understand.

Hannah Hyland



Save the green space at Skaha

I attended an information session on the commercial development plan for Skaha Park sponsored by the Trio Marine Group.

I have also read the marketing plan and the marine development agreement (council report, May 19). If this development goes ahead, it means dramatic changes to Skaha Park that the citizens of Penticton should be aware of and given the chance to approve.

One of my concerns is while this a major project affecting all citizens, there has been little attention. While the Trio have met with so-called stakeholders: they have had only two information sessions with the general public, market day and at the Seniors Centre. The people seem to be unaware of the scale of the project or its implications, and when I talk with people they don’t entirely approve of this development.

City of Penticton has spent millions of dollars developing Skaha Park. Their efforts have resulted in a splendid public area with beautiful lawns, tall shade trees and open vistas; a green space with relaxing promenades and public areas with recreational activities unlike anything else in the city. Now a large area of green space (approximately 25 per cent of total area, excluding the beach and parking lots) is going to be turned over to commercial developers (29-plus year lease) to develop a water slide, mini-golf course and renovated marina. The footprint of this development takes over a heavily used section from the northeast parking lot to the beach that contains a splash pad and picnic tables and is close to the children’s playground. A chain-link fence will surround this area. Why is such a large area of the park being turned over to developers, only for three-month use? Once this green-space is gone, it will be gone forever.

Paddle sports are a growing activity (seven-month season). Boats are stored in a shed near the beach. While this shed is to be replaced, it will be moved further down the beach away (70 metres) from the launching area and across from a wide section of beach. The placement doesn’t appear to be convenient to moving boats in and out of the water or accessing the present boat-launch road. The placement of the boathouse should have higher priority than the footprint of a waterslide. Remember that events surrounding these sports bring thousands of people to the city.

Despite the increase in tourist attendance there is little change in the parking lot area. Will parking spill into the residential area? The plan allows for a beer and wine off-sale outlet. Considering that this is a family beach and policing is expensive, this is a surprising allowance.

I hope this letter and petition (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-our-green-space-in-skaha-park) will generate discussion of an important change coming to one of our well-loved parks. The proposal will be discussed at council meeting, on June 29.

Harvey Quamme



Put the Skaha Park issue to rest with a referendum

I attended the rally against development of Skaha Park and was amazed at the turnout. There really are some very passionate people in this city.

Both sides were present, with the “No” side being much more prevalent. From what I witnessed, the “No” side greatly outweighed the “Yes” side by about 40 to one. Mayor Jakubeit claims there is overwhelming support from the “silent majority.” Where were all the silent majority at the rally last night?

Mayor and council, you have no choice now but to listen to us, especially when there is a rumour that Mayor Jakubeit was overheard making a comment to the effect that council is pushing this through anyways. What a great attitude. Screw the people who hired you.

My mother (rest her soul) had a term for people like this. She would call them a “Pompous ass.” Mayor and council seem to forget they are supposed to represent the interests of the people of this city, not their own interests. Maybe frequent letters to the editor writer Elvena Slump could do some research to see if there is a way to impeach municipal politicians.

The mere fact that there is such overwhelming opposition to this plan coupled with the fact that mayor and council continue to be adamant about pushing this through gets my suspicious nature going and makes me wonder if maybe there isn’t something a little shady going on behind the scenes. Sorry, I’m funny that way.

Former Mayor Jake Kimberley said it best when he said “$30,000 can decide the outcome of this, and we can stop being a divided community.”

I have no problem having my tax dollars spent in this fashion when it comes to such an important issue. Let’s have a referendum and put this baby to rest once and for all. And this time, have more than one voting station, please.

Mark Billesberger




Skaha Marina malaise

Like many people I have some concerns with what is going on at the Skaha Lake Marina.

What happens there concerns me directly because I have been renting a berth there for years. I and most others agree that it is more than time to renovate and upgrade the marina. When they speak of new, large attractions such as waterslides it makes me wonder where they will find the space.

Boat beach is barely adequate for all the people that want to use it and the same is true about the parking there.

I remember the old waterslides fondly and although I would love to have new ones in town I remember how much space the slides and parking required. I believe that if you paved everything from the turtle pond to the green space behind the marina buildings it still would not be enough. Also, without the green spaces it would be as unattractive as the fair that is held in the mall parking lot.

Another item that I have heard bandied about is that there may be a round-about (traffic circle) used to organize people going in and out of the boat launch. That is such an obvious failure waiting to happen that I cannot believe that even our council would consider it.

There is also talk about a restaurant and a beach store. Done right that could be an asset. I repeat, done right.

Finally the docks themselves’ would be upgraded and the marina enclosure will be cleaned up.

Everyone wants that but every offer to the city included this as I understand it. The most important things to be done at the marina location all should be hinged on boating. These include launching, docking, servicing, rentals, seasonal storage and so on.

Restaurants, boutiques and tourist attractions can be accommodated at other locations.

Now we come to the final, and perhaps most important point. If the city actually has an approved plan of what will be undertaken on that spot, then why are they withholding it from the voters and taxpayers of the city?

If on the other hand they do not have plans that show in detail what will be undertaken, what the cost of this undertaking is and proof that the company has the wherewithal to meet these costs, then why is the city giving this company the lease?

I am sorry to say that it sounds like we are being offered a pig in a poke.

Would it not be more businesslike and prudent to have a new company submit their complete plans and proof of financing before we send away the people that have been successfully running the marina for years?

Would that not help to ensure continuity of service and protect the best interest of the people of Penticton?

Kevin Noonan