Leave Skaha Park alone!

Dear Editor:

I ask that the mayor, councillors and others city planners please get out of this Trio/Skaha Marina deal even if it costs money.

Leave beautiful, natural Skaha Park as it is — for the sake of people and our future.

Be remembered for doing what is right.

Hannah Hyland

Penticton



 

Some advice to save the park

Dear Editor:

Looking at the complex Skaha Park situation from afar, I would agree with Diane Varga’s suggestions in her recent letter (Herald, Nov. 24), that the group of Penticton in people opposing Trio’s intrusion into the economics of their fair city should perhaps get some legal advice to see if Trio actually did not default on its original obligations.

Secondly. I would suggest that the Save Skaha Park group and all the other people who oppose Trio’s proposals, put all their resources together, hire a legal expert, and sue:

1. Trio for using high pressure tactics on gullible and elected officials (who really don’t have the knowledge to handle tasks of this nature).

2. The mayor and council for entering into agreements without the consent of the electorate.

3. Staff members who helped negotiate the terms of the Trio agreement without having the wherewithal to agree to such proposals.

Such a lawsuit could easily be won and would likely kill all three birds with one stone. And, at the same time, would certainly reduce the number of letters to the editor on the topic.

Frank Martens

Summerland



 

Council are the ones at fault, not Trio

Dear Editor:

First I would like to make clear that I have no love lost for Trio Marine or the people who comprise Trio Marine as I neither know or have any affiliation with any of them.

From the get-go why would any of us, the citizens of Penticton, have any reason to either trust or distrust the principals of Trio Marine? It is my feeling that the people of Trio Marine have become proxies or scapegoats for the mayor and council of Penticton. This where, I believe, the real distrust resides.

Penticton, as represented by the mayor and council, appear to have had some grandiose idea to transform Skaha Lake Park into a large amusement park. To this end they put out a request for someone to make this happen. Unfortunately for Trio Marine, theirs (quite likely the only one) was the proposal that “Penticton” liked best.

Oh, so many of us wondered why, with protesters rallying outside the City Hall, the mayor and council would rush into quickly signing up a deal with Trio Marine. In retrospect, I suspect, that with their eyes glossed over, they they were seeing precisely the proposal they had hoped for. Now, without any further deliberation and knowing what is best and wanted by all the people of Penticton, they could not ink the deal fast enough. Who cares about a few dissidents who want to retain a beautiful park, only to have it remain as an unused/useless piece on natural property, what do they know?

Now, after their creating much divisiveness in the city and throwing bags and bags of tax dollars at the issue, we came to the meeting of Nov. 23. A mere two days prior to this meeting, where all is to be revealed, the mayor and council hold yet another meeting with the Trio Marine Group, to revise the most recent revision of a repeatedly revised agreement. With the little blurb, at the start of this Nov. 23 meeting, regards to the content of the most recent revision leaving me (and I am quite sure other attendees) unclear as to the actual changes that were made to the agreement with Trio, the meeting proceeds.

After a year-and-a-half of this fiasco, and not having heard word one from Trio Marine until this date, how can anyone say that they have had or have lost trust in this group? I firmly believe it is another group at the head table of this meeting in whose competence, confidence, faith and trust has been lost.

Tom Crawford

Penticton



 

There’s a lot of confusion going on over park proposal

To the editor:

I attended the public meeting on Wednesday night at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, where our mayor, along with our city councillors, six 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 city councillor said that Trio did not fulfil its 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 city councillor, the mayor and the rest of the city councillors, the city lawyer, or Trio Marine?

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 straightforward answer to the many times that question was put forward.

What the heck is going on?

The 29-year lease, plus the possible two five-year extensions, and first right of refusal for other amenities (concessions, rentals, 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 should forget about the project in the first place.

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.

Also, I am even more disappointed now that I have seen Trio Marine members and their lawyer in person.

Penticton mayor, city councillors 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



 

29-year contract too long

To the editor:

Unfortunately, I was unable to catch the eye of people holding the microphones before I had to leave the Nov. 23 public meeting on plans for Skaha Lake Park, so I would like to take this opportunity of making a couple of points for council to consider at its Dec. 1 meeting:

I am greatly concerned at the prospect of any contract with Trio Marine Group (or any other supplier of services to the city) having a term of 29 years plus a 10-year extension option. Effectively, this would hogtie the next 10 city councils, many of whom will doubtless be facing priorities which are not currently envisaged.

I submit that this council has no mandate to thus encumber future councils. I wonder if it is legal under provincial law for any municipality to enter into a contract of this duration. If it is not illegal, it should be. The city should not under any circumstances enter into a contract of a duration greater than five years, possibly with the option of a five-year extension, subject to certain predetermined targets being met during the first five years.

I take the mayor’s point about needing to give the contractor some security for the investment which it will be making in the infrastructure.

This could be accomplished by a provision in the contract that states that an independent, qualified consultant should be appointed by the city to examine the infrastructure during the final year of the contract and prepare a valuation taking into account damage and/or wear and tear.

The contract should provide that, in the event another bidder is selected to take over the contract on its expiry, the city will purchase the contractor’s interest in the infrastructure at the price indicated in the valuation.

The city should indicate in its request for proposals that the successful bidder (if not the existing contractor) will be required to purchase that interest from the city and should provide proof it has the financial means to do so. The city council of the day could, if it so chooses, elect to retain ownership and merely lease it to the new contractor.

Finally, if Coun. Tarik Sayeed is incorrect in his contention that the contract with Trio is legally dead, then council should cancel it.

If it does not, then the next council will undoubtedly be mandated by the electorate to cancel the contract and it will be far more costly to do so than to do it now.

Brian Butler,

Penticton



 

Rent to Trio for 5 years

Dear Editor:

At the Trade and Convention Centre Wednesday night, I could have sworn I heard repeated assurances that Trio was “renting only the marina.”

Well, yes.

Renting only the marina, true. But, they were not “only renting the marina.” The City is waiving its usual purchasing policy, and grants that, once the City develops a parks policy, it will not apply retroactively to Trio.

Is that exemption being granted to other existing businesses in parks? Trio will also receive the license for the concession. For 29 years. And the option to replace the existing building. Is that building structurally unsound, or functionally inadequate? If changes are to be made, would remodelling be a more ecologically and economically friendly option? And, somehow, a kiosk can be added somewhere.

Between January and May 2018, Penticton and Trio shall develop a proposal for a seasonal water play structure on the foreshore. If Penticton and Trio cannot agree on a proposal, no other proposal may be considered until 2028.

Trio has the lakeshore water play possibilities locked up until 2028. It seems that if a new boathouse/concession amenity is to be built, Trio has first kick at operations. And, if no deal, then the city may not enter into any other arrangement until 2028.

I don’t quite follow all the roundabouts in this section, and may have misinterpreted. Whatever the case is, Trio’s interests seem to be well protected.

The whole waterfront of Skaha Lake Park becomes an exclusion area, and “Penticton will not issue an expression of interest, request for proposal or grant any form of license or lease for commercial operations related to water or lake activities within the exclusion area…” and limitations favourable to Trio are imposed on this area until 2021, with a further limit until 2026 that only competitive process may be used relating to commercial operations.

Be careful, people.

Don’t read only the revised settlement. Also read the proposed new contract. It looks a lot like the old one, with a few things trimmed out.

After hearing some of the history of this situation, I’m not sure I can rely on the guarantees of public consultation by the City. As far as I understand, consulting means having a meeting and talking. It doesn’t mean agreeing on anything or following any particular course of action.

My bottom line: rent the marina to Trio, for five years. Period. No further options in other parts of the park to be negotiated, no exclusions, exclusive rights, concessions, kiosks, or any other ideas. After five years, if Trio has done a good job of the marina, does its homework and presents a sound, detailed plan, then they can rebuild the marina and have a 20-year lease.

And we can start talking about other stuff.

Ron Smuin

Penticton

 



 

Emperor has no clothes

Dear Editor:

No matter how hard Penticton’s mayor and city council members try to absolve themselves of the “full” responsibility for the ultimate costs for the Skaha Lake Park fiasco, it belongs entirely to them.

They earned it through sheer obstinacy and arrogance, and, as a result, they own it. All the smoke and mirrors that are now taking place, and incidentally are adding exponentially to the ongoing cost, will not absolve them from that responsibility.

The ongoing costs of staff time to formulate new “enhanced” agreements, retaining of an engagement consultant supposedly to improve the mayor’s image, legal fees, payments to Trio Marine group, etc. only add to the poor decision making to date. The full details of the new agreements are never fully disclosed, and, as a result, are basically useless.

Frankly, the electorate does not trust this group. It appears that indeed the saying that “the emperor has no clothes” applies here.

Coun. Tarik Sayeed said at the recent public meeting, “Let’s end this once and for all and hold a referendum”. He seems to be a dollar short and a day late as public opinion is already well known and a non-binding referendum is basically of no value whatsoever. Anyone who doesn’t now know what the results of that referendum would be must have been living on another planet for the past year or so.

Spoken like a good politician that has announced a run for the NDP nomination in the next provincial election. It is indeed a smart move to distance oneself from this fiasco, but, unfortunately, too late.

Claude Bergman

Penticton



 

Close books on this fiasco

Dear Editor:

At the meeting called to discuss the Skaha Park proposal on Nov.23, we learned that the bad idea in 2013 has now turned into a complete disaster.

Council and staff have blundered to a position where taxpayers have paid much more than a referendum would have cost, and are being asked to pay much more to allow them to blunder to the next step.

Trio Marine confirmed that they could float the development only because they could do it on leased public land, and to continue with their plans they must have exclusive rights to areas outside of the marina.

The last gasp agreement proposed on Nov.21 will leave us with a worse situation than we started with prior to the bad idea in 2013.

Penticton has nothing to gain by concluding an agreement with Trio Marine.

Hopefully Penticton Council and staff, along with Trio Marine, will accept this fact and have the courage to close the books on this divisive fiasco.

John McLeod

Penticton



 

Unanswered question

Dear Editor:

Many questions were asked at the public meeting to discuss the Skaha Lake Park agreements on Wednesday night and many were answered, but I think none was glossed over so much as the question about the status of the original agreement with Trio Marine Group.

Many people believe that Trio’s failure to meet financial obligations by deadline made the original agreement void. If this were the case, we could all call it a day and be happy the turmoil is over.

What’s curious is that the city has not behaved as though Trio breached the contract. Why not?

The city answers that Trio might dispute that conclusion, and it doesn’t want to incur any further legal costs.

This begs belief.

First, Trio might not dispute the conclusion. It could all be over if the city simply sued for non-performance.

Second, if Trio disputed the charge, the case went to court, and Trio were found guilty, the city would win its legal costs.

Third, what makes the proposed settlement agreement and ongoing relationship with Trio look like a better bet than a legal case for non-performance? If somehow the city were to lose a case like that, could we be in much worse shape than we are today?

The overwhelming opinion at the meeting was that the city should cut Trio loose no matter what it might cost in settlement monies, no matter if the settlement were to hit $200,000.

The public simply wants to see the end of this company, which it does not trust.

The obvious question, and the question that was skirted three times at the meeting, is why would we settle at all if the original agreement were void?

It’s a fundamental question that needs to be answered through law.

Dianne Varga

Penticton