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

Penticton



 

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

Penticton

 



 

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

Penticton