Agenda must be circulated

Dear Editor:

I would like to ask that Council ensure that the agenda for any meeting is circulated prior to the meeting.

Perhaps the proposed agenda could be displayed on the screens. Also, in the case of a meeting dealing with significant documents, it might be helpful to have copies of those documents available. I arrived at 6:30 p.m. for the Dec. 1 meeting and saw no resources.

The truth can be obscured by the use of words and by the absence of words. In my opinion, there has been too much of both in the Trio affair.

At what looked to me like a well-scripted meeting on Thursday, just prior to my disruptive departure, Coun. Helena Konanz stated that she had visited the Save Skaha Park Society website and read (many of) the letters to the editor regarding the Skaha Lake Park. I’m certain I heard her say that the deal that was being proposed met the concerns expressed there.

Coun. Konanz mentioned green space, and the preservation of trees. I don’t recall hearing her mention a significant concern: Trio is being handed the option to be first in line for any future developments on the lakeshore. I also note in the SSPS archive other concerns that were, in my opinion, dismissed too quickly by council at the Nov. 24 meeting including land valuation, First Nations concerns, Trio’s business plans and their absence, the viability of more berth space in the marina, and others. The length of concession license has been an issue for many in the public, and I don’t believe it has been addressed.

I would like to ask one more question. Have any of the Trio deals, including the latest, granted Trio any special rates on public utilities —water, sewer, electricity?

At the Nov. 24 meeting, I could have sworn I heard repeated assurances from several parties on stage that “Trio is only renting the marina.” As far as I am concerned, that statement was a lie. The discussion focused mainly on the marina. However, Trio was at that time, also being granted a 29-year license on the concession and other entitlements that were lightly touched on by those on stage. In the new deal, those entitlements are somewhat restricted, but Trio is still very much at the front of the line, whether or not they are the best business for the undertaking.

If one has read each of the proposed contracts, one would note little change from one to another. How much has changed in the latest contract?

Is Trio still exempt from profit sharing for several years in parts of their undertakings?

Ron Smuin

Penticton



 

Booze with boats: wrong mix

Dear Editor:

When reading the 160-page council report on the new Skaha Park agreement by the time I got to the part about a retail space allowed, I knew this was not about bringing a wonderful family experience to Skaha Beach area. It was not about water safety, drowning prevention, visitor enjoyment using all sorts of water craft.

It was all about acquiring the right for people to come and buy booze. They can come via the road, or by boat or they can walk. They could come from Coun. Max Picton’s Barefoot Beach campsite, they could come from Okanagan Falls or Kaleden .

It’s turning into another case of the city giving up prime land on which to build a total money-making adults-only venture that includes beer, wine and dining…. just like the casino. Is Penticton ready for this type of activity and added traffic on Skaha Lake and Eastside Road? Will it ever be ready? What will happen to the dragon boat crowd?

Really, does it make sense to allow this private business a foot in the door to selling booze instead of providing a safe, fun for all beach area that has been marketed as not-for-sale, nation-wide prime recreational attraction?

We’ve watched Council improve a fantastic walkway with environmental enhancement dollars on Okanagan Lake. We’ve also watched them turn it into a tent beach this past summer. That was never in the plans. So we’re watchful regarding Skaha now.

Do we have to bring in additional police in summer just for the purpose of seeing that no boaters are using this marina as a shopping mall for liquor?

Skaha Lake in no way resembles Okanagan Lake. Most importantly we must insure that motorcraft should never reach boating overkill.

Before concluding, I would like to make reference to a recent letter written by a young man, a 30-year-old businessman who politely thanked all us old folks for all the work done in the past to make Penticton a better place to live. He also asked us politely to move over and make way for his generation to take the helm. Who knows, maybe he’ll one day be our mayor.

I would, however like to caution council that especially where marine activity and beachfront developments are concerned, conflicts must be resolved using common sense and respect for both the older citizens and the younger ones who are our future.

Always keep in mind that a “dead” lake is about as useful to a major tourist area as a hockey rink is without children.

Jean Mitchell

Penticton



 

Trio’s dream is public nightmare

Dear Editor:

Having spent at least four hours on Nov. 23 listening, agreeing and disagreeing to clever questions and remarks directed to the Penticton City Council and the Trio Marine Group, it was not until I drove home when I thought of questions and remarks I could have asked.

Yes Trio “had” a dream (and no they do not always come true) but for most of us these past two years have been more like a horrendous nightmare.

Rather sad that it took those merry council men who are supposed to listen and take their citizens wishes to heart not more than two years to realize and now admit that the way this whole debacle was handled, was maybe not quite the best way.

A bunch of very slow learners!

Yes what a low-life person who put barb wire across the little bridge but just as sad, horrible, unforgivable it would have been the cutting down of the many dedicated trees in Skaha Park to be replaced by a plastic monstrosity surrounded by concrete and wire fencing, to be used during a few summer months by a happy few who can afford the entry fee.

Well the waterpark is off the books. Did Trio really think they could make money? No wonder they wanted a 29-year-plus contract.

But now what about the proposed restaurant? Is it going to be a 16-metre-high, Trump-like mini-tower with condos on the top floor or is that another unclear, vague , we do not know yet plan?

My suggestion is to set up the existing building so that it can be used as a venue for parties and weddings and self catered.

The wedding ceremony can be held in the bandstand, the wedding photos taken in our lovely park and the party held in the marina building. What a setting for a special day. But not owned or operated by Trio.

For the last three months the restaurant building has been closed and locked up and will stay that way until at least next year around April or May. Now that is a good example of “under-utilized” as the mayor likes to label Skaha Park.

Apparently Trio has not paid the 2016 rent yet! Gee I wish I could do that with my property taxes.

Now we’re about to finally find out if this rather dense city council is at long last listening to the citizens who voted for them and pay their wages.

Elaine Vonck

Penticton



 

Why is council so determined?

Dear Editor:

Tell me why is “giving away” the jewel of Penticton — Skaha Lake Park — so important to the top management and city council, including Mayor Andrew Jakubeit when nobody in Penticton wants this to happen?

Have you all not read the impartial and scientific Oraclepoll survey commissioned by The Herald? Did you not see that the vast majority of speakers at the Nov. 23 public meeting was strongly opposed to any form of commercialization in the park? What about the zillions of letters to the editor?

Tell me what’s at the end of the rainbow for the top city managers, mayor, council and Trio (actually a duo) Marine?

It’s preposterous. Let’s tear up all existing contracts with Trio including the marina and concessions. We do not need to give this group control of the park for another two generations (39 years).

Space limits me from going into the ridiculously low rental that Trio would pay, which by the way, they’ve yet to pay one red cent.

I also will not go into all the deadlines the Trio has missed to date. There is in real estate a “time is of the essence” rule. The Trio has missed 100 per cent of all deadlines and as far as I’m concerned the contract is null and void and not worth the the paper it’s written on!

And lastly for today does city council want to go down in history as the council that gave the baby away and saved the bath water? Some legacy they will be leaving their children and grandchildren.

Georges and Cheryl Jansen

Penticton



 

Skaha Park: it’s time to start over

Dear Editor:

I, along with some 700 concerned residents, attended the public meeting to hear the latest updates on Skaha Park and the Trio agreement on Nov. 23.

Trio’s lawyer stated: “One thing that needs to be clear is that the only commercial development that is provided in the agreements before you… is the marina. That’s it!”

He went on to further say that “the City was clear that they were not going to give Trio anything guaranteed. All Trio could get is the Marina, that is all.”

OK, that seems quite simple and clear. However just 30 minutes later Trio was asked to explain the beach area that was in a little red lined box. The question put forward — what control do they have over the beach?

Trio’s lawyer answered and I quote word for word from the audio tape of the meeting: “Section C is merely basically it is freezing out competitors from Trio. Trio doesn’t want to spend this money revitalizing the Marina making it a first-class operation and then have the City allow massage set ups, bocce ball, anything else commercial on that beach that is going to take customers away from Trio.

“Trio has just asked the City that in these first few years, let us build customers at the Marina that we have built for the City and so it is not control of the beach it is just saying we do not want anyone commercial on the beach because we do not want a competitor there, so that is not control per say that is merely saying we want to have an opportunity to recoup the investment.”

Really – massage, bocce ball? Is this competition to a marina? What is the definition of control? Trio says they do not have control yet they are telling the City there can be no other businesses. I believe this is a real concern, do they really have the business skills and financial resources to even get through the construction phase, let alone operating the Marina?

The trouble is there have been so many changes and they keep coming. How can a business plan with so many problems hope to survive? The answer: it probably can’t.

It’s time to start over and while we are at it look at what we have. Sure the marina could use upgrading. If the previous tenants had been given a 29-year lease we would still have a viable marina today, with operators that have passion and care for Skaha Lake, the park and both residents and visitors to Penticton.

Arlene Sloan

Penticton



 

All of council failed

I was an attendee at the Nov. 23 city council meeting but had to leave after three-and-a-half hours. Although my hand was up after the first 20 minutes and remained up for almost two hours, I was not given an opportunity to speak. So this will be my forum.

First, we were told the City paid the moderator $500. How much were the women holding the mics paid?

Second, Max Picton stated his preference for the waterslide, which is his right, but he then went on to say that he thought a compromise could be reached which would satisfy everyone. (And now it feels like I’m back in the classroom teaching civics.)

We live in a democracy. A democracy operates by acceding to the will of the majority not by satisfying everyone. As an elected politician it is Max Picton’s job to uphold that will — not his will or that of a small minority. If he is not prepared to do so, he should resign.

And, as Mr. Claude Bergman so aptly put it (Herald, Nov. 25) unless you “have been living on another planet for the past year” the will of the majority has been made abundantly clear many times and was underscored again at the meeting.

Third, in Mr. Mitch Moroziak’s presentation and Mr. Tom Dyas’ comments reference was made frequently to “full community consultation.” My questions would have been: how, specifically, will this consultation be carried out? And, in light of the rallies, petitions, emails and letters to the editor and your responses to those, why should we believe you now?

I think that Coun. Tarik Sayeed, unwittingly and ironically, summed up the problem in his interview with The Herald when he said that the only real quality that a politician needs is the ability to listen to his constituents. Sadly on that score all of council has failed. Trio is not the only group that is not trusted in this community.

Sharon Lindstrom

Penticton



 

Dishonest people must be punished

Everything the present Penticton city council and the previous council touches or has touched turns into barnyard droppings.

At the recent public forum held at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre the figure $200,000 was disclosed. Apparently that is the amount of money taxpayers are obligated to pay Trio Marine to break their contract with the city.

What is also of serious concern; are there other city obligations to Trio that the taxpayers are unaware of?

Recently taxpayers discovered that Trio has been negotiating with the City for five years. If that is the case, a commission of

judicial enquiry with subpoena power managed by a retired judge from either Alberta or Saskatchewan will be necessary and present and previous council members and former and present department heads must be obligated to testify under oath.

Taxpayers believe that all of the present council members as well as members of the previous council and former city staff, should be on the hook to pay Trio. Had the present council and the former three council members re-elected to the present council, each of them should have been obligated to announced in a pre-election mandate, their intention to continue supporting or to not support the Trio presentation.

Apparently some of them now appear anxious to abandon ship; unfortunately, they may be too late. They should have resigned immediately after discovering the mayor had signed a contract with Trio; especially when 700 taxpayers were demonstrating their displeasure in front of City Hall plus the support of more than 5,000 city residents who had signed their name on a protest list.

Elected members of a municipality, a province or the Parliament must be held accountable for their actions. Democracy demands accountability and fairness. Either a person is honest or they are not; dishonest people must be punished.

Ernie Slump

Canadian Army retired

Penticton

 



 

Ashton, Province must step in now on Skaha Marina deal

I appreciate very much having a copy of the council report on the Skaha/Trio agreement (all 160 pages), so that I was able to read and digest the content. Believe me, it’s been tough to chew!

Frustrating is putting it mildly. The city council has dug themselves into a hole and can’t see the light. The more one reads, the worse it gets!

That these dealings have been allowed to reach this point is plain mystery to me.

The No. 1 priority on my list, is that the City does not have an agreement with the province. I feel very strongly that it’s time that MLA Dan Ashton, along with the minister responsible for lakes, foreshore/environment to become involved with the Skaha controversy insofar as the entire sandy beach area is concerned. Though sand isn’t green in colour, it’s certainly green in my books.

The minister responsible needs to step in now. No agreement has yet been signed by the provincial government and I urge the minister not to sign.

It is also my belief that the minister needs also to closely examine figure 2 (my p.5). ‘B’ (marina) ‘C’(South parking D (boat trailer parking), & especially E (front of marina + large area out onto the lake where the NW extreme is very very close to the breakwater which will have to be extended out into the lake far too close to the floating gas line.

In addition, when looking at the aerial photo of the new-improved marina, access by boats from other areas of Skaha Lake to the boat launch looks to be very tricky, if indeed 100 slips will be the final plan sought.

All of the above are good reasons why the minister responsible needs to step in immediately to null and void anything that has taken place between council and Trio beyond the original okay that Trio take over operation of the marina for a time.

That is the only time the Province has actually placed its signature on something and in that case the Province was first; the City second, and Trio last. That was not signed agreeing to all the changes and perceived changes happening over the past three years.

Jean Mitchell

Penticton



 

Demands answer on lease rates

I have information that suggests local industrial, commercial lease rates are $10.30 per square metre. Trio will pay $4.45 land and $2.00 parking, per square metre. I can not find information on lease rates of waterfront land, locally or in other cities.

No one, not the Penticton mayor, not one councillor, nor the engagement or communication officer has answered my questions dated Nov. 5, 2016 regarding this matter.

I can only assume that the questions submitted would be an embarrassment to answer. If my information is wrong, I will be only too happy to write a retraction but only after I see written proof of rates in comparable situations with other cities and with local properties.

Lynn Crassweller

Penticton



 

City won’t share secrets

Dear Editor:

While I really admire the courage of Phillip McCutchan in expressing his views about the park and our city council I completely disagree with most of his statements.

A few thousand feet of grass, trees and a duck pond may not be worth a referendum but they are certainly worth protecting and preserving. We have enough concrete and blacktop in other parts of the city.

Could someone please explain the real meaning of Article V111 – General 8.01 (b) in the latest revised agreement. It reads: “This licence and all the terms and conditions of it may be inspected by the public at such times and at such places as the City may determine.”

Am I being cynical in thinking that this means that all the terms and conditions will never be available for inspection by the public? In the same section Schedules G, H, and I were intentionally left blank.

Why? As long as there are secret agreements protected by confidentiality clauses the public, in general, will never be convinced that they are being dealt with openly and honestly.

At the Nov. 23 meeting many people expressed their concerns about the future of the dragonboat boatshed. A word of caution here – when the South Okanagan Events Centre was built, the indoor tennis facility was demolished in order to create more parking spaces out front. The promise was made and a place was shown on the site plan where the new indoor facility would be relocated.

It never happened. What has happened to the metal framework and the lighting system?

Maurice Ogden

Penticton