Penticton Indian Band Chief expands on assessment request

During a rally on Sept. 27, Lisa Martin, secretary for Save Skaha Park, reiterated the group’s mandate and instructed the 900 to 1,000 people in attendance on how to form a human chain around the perimeter of the proposed waterslide development.

Plans for developing the Skaha Lake Marina and an adjacent piece of parkland hit two snags recently when the Penticton Indian Band requested more consultation and an opposition group filed a civil claim.

Chief Jonathan Kruger said the Penticton Indian Band’s request for archaeological and environmental assessments of the area came after they realized the extent of Trio Marine Group’s plans. Earlier consultations with Trio and the city about the project, Kruger said, hadn’t included the controversial waterslide complex to be built where the children’s splash pad currently sits.

“We supported the expansion of the marina, working with the Okanagan Nation Alliance Fisheries Department, and we didn’t have a problem with the restaurant,” said Kruger. “We didn’t know anything else that was going on with the Trio group, the waterslide and all that stuff.”

Kruger said the band is just following their policy, developed after a 2014 Supreme Court decision clarified First Nations rights to be consulted about uses of land under claim. In this case, the PIB has an unresolved timber claim covering the area the city has leased to Trio.

“We are not taking a political stance on this. We are just trying to do our due diligence,” said Kruger. “We wrote a letter because we do have a concern with regards to a specific claim.”

Kruger said that area would once have been wetlands, and an important source of food and resources for the band.

“I hear stories that back in the day, there was 40,000 people living here. That was Syilx people,” said Kruger, also pointing out that in more recent times, the PIB reserve was much larger.

“Half the city was actually reserve lands, if you look at maps from 1910,1911. Not saying that we are going to take it away, but we certainly have a position there that we want to negotiate, get something from that,” said Kruger. “We just want to do our due diligence and make sure we are involved in the future of any developments in Penticton.

“We do that with the province, we do that in our territory throughout the Okanagan Nation, We need to be consistent with the city of Penticton and the regional district.”

Taking into account the band’s request and the recent receipt of joint lease agreement with the province for the marina, Trio requested and was granted a one-year extension to their development agreement for the marina portion, and now are not required to submit a detailed financial plan until Oct., 1 2016.

Another factor is the civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court by the Save Skaha Park society, which was filed on Sept. 25. The 11-page claim states that at least two lots that make up the park, acquired in 1942 and 1954, have trust conditions that the city operate and maintain them as public park.

The suit rests on 10 legal points, arguing that the city does not have the authority to permit Skaha Park to be used except as a public park, and that the 29-year lease with Trio Marine is a form of disposition and can not go ahead without public approval.

Trio Marine issued a press release late Tuesday acknowledging the difficulties, but confirming they plan to move forward with their plans.

“We would like to recognize people’s passion for this project, both the positive and the not so positive,” reads the release.  “Trio Marine Group will continue to work together with the City of Penticton, Save Skaha Park society, and the Penticton Indian Band to discuss concerns of all parties involved while working towards a positive advancement of the Skaha Lake project.

EDITORS NOTE:  TRIO have NEVER contacted Save Skaha Park!


Trio says it’s committed to Skaha Lake Park despite recent setbacks

Despite two recent setbacks, Trio Marine Group says it’s still committed to redeveloping the area around Skaha Lake Marina.

“Trio Marine Group will continue to work together with the City of Penticton, Save Skaha Park Society, and the Penticton Indian Band to discuss concerns of all parties involved while working towards a positive advancement of the Skaha Lake project,” the company said in an unsigned statement released Tuesday night.

The Save Skaha Park Society, a citizens’ group that formed to block Trio’s plans to build water slides in Skaha Lake Park, on Friday filed a lawsuit against the City of Penticton and Trio that alleges a lease agreement between the two defendants should be squashed because it’s in violation of numerous provincial laws.

Then, on Monday, city council agreed to give Trio an extra year to complete negotiations with it and the B.C. government on a long-term agreement to take control of Skaha Marina, plus file a financial plan and complete archaeological and environmental studies of the area requested by the Penticton Indian Band. The new deadline for that work is Oct. 1, 2016.

“Recognizing the above uncertainties, Trio felt it would be in the best interest of all parties not to submit a detailed financial plan by October 1st, 2015, until the above conditions had been satisfied,” says the statement.

“We would like to acknowledge with this matter now being a legal issue, further comments have to be kept limited. We would like to recognize people’s passion for this project, both the positive and the not so positive.”

EDITORS NOTE:  TRIO have NEVER contacted Save Skaha Park!


Two major development deals flawed

EDITORIAL

Could City Hall please get its ducks in a row?

This new, progressive group of thinkers has launched two ambitious development projects involving city lands and both have accomplished very little other than wasting everybody’s time.

First there was the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre hotel/casino complex which upset the city’s major employer — hoteliers. This project involved significant staff time with a series of public meetings.

After putting the proposal out for expressions of interest, they eventually had to pull it off the table because it was discovered a referendum would be required due to an old covenant from the 1900s on public park land.

Nothing was accomplished except for a lot of unrest and anger in the community.

That was the under card, next came the main event — Skaha Park Marina.

Without rehashing its history, the latest bombshell was dropped Monday night when the city revealed there are some issues with the province of B.C., one of three joint lease-holders. Additionally, the Penticton Indian Band has rightfully requested both an archeological and environmental study as they lay claim to some of that land.

It’s quite possible that ancient artifacts or even humans are buried there.

Council was fully warned about this well in advance by Kaleden resident Tom Siddon. Tom pleaded with council not to proceed until a “proper environmental study” was completed and consultation occurred with First Nations. None of this appears to have been done. This council doesn’t like to take advice.

What does Tom Siddon know? He was a Richmond city councillor, has a doctorate degree and served in Parliament in two key cabinet positions — fisheries and aboriginal affairs, both of which relate directly to the problems council now faces.

An environmental study is going to be expensive, ask anyone whose built on water. The party picking up the tab is “yet to be determined,” the mayor says, but it will likely be the developer.

Like most Penticton residents, PIB Chief Jonathan Kruger supports the marina and restaurant but has extreme reservations about the waterslides.

I decided to do my own detective work and on the Saturday of the dragon boat festival I went for lunch at the new Skaha Marina. It was noon and there were 2,000 dragon boaters on a 45-minute lunch break from competition and it was only me and a table of three on the patio and it was a beautiful day.

I think the possibilities are endless for a restaurant there. Bring in a live DJ, the Coors Light girls, Elvis Evolution, and make it a destination similar to what’s been done so successfully at The Barking Parrot.

That, I believe, is something Penticton would support.


Penticton water park faces lawsuit from citizens’ group

A sketch of the proposed Skaha Lake Marina and water park. Trio Marine Group

A sketch of the proposed Skaha Lake Marina and water park. Trio Marine Group

The City of Penticton’s decision to build a water park on six acres of of a public park is being challenged with a lawsuit.

The Save Skaha Park citizens’ group filed a civil claim against the City and Trio Marine Group Inc., the private company that was to operate the water park as well as the existing marina at Skaha Park.

“We think we have a case that in some aspects the city did not act lawfully, and on the advice of our lawyer, we went ahead and filed the claim,” said Lisa Martin, spokeswoman for Save Skaha Park.

“It’s in the hands of the lawyers now. We just have to sit and wait and see what’s going to happen.”

In a news release Save Skaha Park alleges the agreement between the City and Trio was inked without adequate public consultation or a referendum. They say the water park would “destroy its serene and healing ambiance so valued by Penticton residents.”

Controversial project

Skaha Lake Park is a 21-acre park located at the south end of the city. Currently, it features a beach, sports facilities, and a marina.

But the addition of the water park has been fraught with controversy. Former Penticton mayor Jake Kimberley came out in opposition to it, and a petition started by Save Skaha Park has over 4,800 signatures from residents opposed to the project.

However, current mayor Andrew Jakubeit defended the project back in July during an Interview with Daybreak South and denied that consultation was insufficient.

“Penticton is sometimes a community that is slow to change and everyone gets very excited,” he said. “We go into these public meetings with open minds…but that doesn’t mean who shows up at the public meeting dictates what direction council should go.”

He said that the water park will be a major enhancement, and could lead to increased tourism.

As well, he argued the money brought in by the water park could be spent on other parks in the city.

Martin says that shouldn’t be the purpose of Skaha Park.

“This turns it into an amusement park, a for-profit amusement park, and it doesn’t fit into the whole idea of why we have parks in the first place” she said. “There are trees in that area that are memorial trees … there’s a stream that meanders through that area where there are ducks and turtles and fish and geese. And this changes the whole nature of the park.”

The City of Penticton and Trio Marine Group did not respond to requests for comment on this story.


Trio given 1-year extension; Penticton Indian Band and Province have concerns

Skaha Lake Park still in the news First Nations have expressed concerns about Skaha Marina and a proposed waterslide park for Skaha Lake Park.

Skaha Lake Park still in the news
First Nations have expressed concerns about Skaha Marina and a proposed waterslide park for Skaha Lake Park.

Major upgrades planned for Skaha Lake Park encountered some major obstacles on Monday.

On the same day the city was served with a lawsuit from a citizens’ group opposed to a planned water park, council cited unforeseen obstacles a s it granted Trio Marine Group a one-year extension to finalize an agreement to operate a marina and restaurant there.

According to a report by director of operations Mitch Moroziuk, the Penticton Indian Band has requested an environmental and archaeological impact study on the lands, including park space that would accommodate waterslides and a miniature golf course.

Moroziuk said a second concern is a three-way lease agreement for the marina between the city, Trio and province of B.C. Correspondence had just been received and more time was required to review and execute the lease, Moroziuk said.

“I’d certainly have liked some closure on this sooner, (but) given the circumstances that have come forward — a late lease from the province, a letter from the PIB — we have to give it some serious consideration,” Mayor Andrew Jakubeit told council, without elaborating on “clarity problems” within the deal.

PIB Chief Jonathan Kruger said he supports the expanded marina and restaurant but has concerns about the waterpark because it could go over top of a burial site.

“The place down there (Skaha Park) was part of our timber claim. A long time ago that was part of our reserve lands,” Kruger said in an interview with The Herald.

“Our Syilx people used to live there. If you look at old city maps from 1910 and 1911, it was always reserve land, right up to where Dairy Queen on Carmi Avenue is today. It used to be a swamp back then, our people lived close to the water. We actually got moved over towards the Western part (of the Valley). We definitely need to be included, it has to be a consent-based thing.”

Council was previously warned of this possibility.

At a public meeting in June, Tom Siddon, a local resident and former Indian affairs minister, suggested council conduct an environmental study and consultation with local First Nations before proceeding.

Coun. Helena Konanz said it was her understanding an environmental study had already been completed, but Moroziuk explained the initial study was for possible contaminants and the PIB is now looking for something more in-depth.

When asked who will pay for the cost of the studies, Jakubeit replied, “It’s yet to be determined, but the developer will bear much of that.”

Council eventually voted 6-1 in favour of the extension with Tarik Sayeed opposed.

Trio now has an additional year to get its paperwork in order.

Moroziuk acknowledged that a “detailed financing plan” was to be submitted by Oct. 1 and nothing had yet been received as of Sept. 28.

“The agreement is now amended and (the financing plan) would not have to come until Oct. 1, 2016,” he added.

Earlier in the day, city officials were notified of a lawsuit brought forward by the Save Skaha Park Society that outlines 10 ways in which the city allegedly ran afoul of provincial laws when it signed a lease agreement with Trio that would allow it to build water slides on what is now green space inside the park.

Jakubeit declined comment on the lawsuit Monday, stating it’s a court matter.


Save Skaha Park group files lawsuit against City of Penticton, Trio Marine

Mad as hell Protesters have made good on a vow to sue the city to block plans to build water slides in Skaha Lake Park

Mad as hell
Protesters have made good on a vow to sue the city to block plans to build water slides in Skaha Lake Park

It’s been a busy week for the Save Skaha Park group.

Besides gathering 900 people to create a human chain around the park area that is going to be lost in a lease to a private developer, they also filed a civil suit against both the City of Penticton and Trio Marine Group aimed at preventing the deal from going ahead.

Carolae Donoghue, secretary for Save Skaha Park group, said she was worried the publicity event on Sunday afternoon wouldn’t draw enough demonstrators to cover the perimeter of the area where Trio Marine is hoping to build water slides.

“It’s actually exceeded my expectations,” said Donoghue. “They were shoulder to shoulder. It was amazing.”

The entire perimeter around the leased area, according to the protest organizers, stretches 1,700 feet. More than 25 trees inside the area were tagged with yellow ribbons to mark their loss when the project goes ahead, and a photographer captured the event from a helicopter.

“… such a good turn out for such an important issue,” said former Penticton mayor (1988) Dorothy Tinning, who participated in the event.

Monday, Save Skaha Park announced they had followed through with their intention to seek a legal solution to block the development. According to a press release issued Monday, the group hired legal counsel and filed our civil claim on Sept. 25 in the B.C. Supreme Court, challenging the lawfulness of the city’s deal with Trio, which gives the company a 29-year lease on nearly six acres on the eastern side of the park, including the Skaha Marina.

Trio plans to continue to operate and upgrade the marina, along with building new amenities, including a restaurant and a commercial waterslide complex on the area of the park now occupied by the children’s splash pad.

The civil suit alleges the deal is invalid on several points, including that the city has no authority to permit the park to be used as anything else, citing three previous cases.

It also alleges a longterm lease is a form of disposition and should have triggered a referendum, citing a case against the City of Kelowna.

The group is concerned that council has continued on with the deal, despite opposition from almost 5,000 residents and 2,820 non-residents who have signed petitions requesting a referendum on the waterslide, along with two rallies that drew hundreds of people, both protesters and supporters of the development, to the steps of city hall.

“It is a relaxing, restorative place and needs no enhancement. A commercial waterpark is totally inconsistent with its purpose and will destroy its serene and healing ambience so valued by Penticton residents,” reads the press release. The group is also concerned that the lease deal with Trio Marine could set a precedent for other parks, that commercializing the park without community consent would make it easier for this and future councils to do the same in other parks.

“Save Skaha Park thought long and hard before making this decision. We wish no ill to our mayor and councillors or to Trio, but we cannot let this bad decision go unchallenged,” writes organizer Lisa Martin in the release. “We feel there is just too much at stake for the future of our City. “We simply can’t stand by and let this happen without a fight. We believe that the purpose of our parks is people, not profit.”

Neither Mayor Andrew Jakubeit or representatives of Save Skaha Park were willing to say anything else regarding the civil suit.

“We just got this today, so it would be premature to comment. Being a legal matter, we will be very limited on what we release,” said Jakubeit.

Martin said she wasn’t surprised the city wasn’t willing to comment.

“It’s before the courts now. I absolutely understand their position,” said Martin. “We are just going to have to wait and see how it all turns out.”


Company behind Skaha Lake Park development responds to lawsuit

Residents who’ve been fighting a proposed development on a portion of Skaha Lake Park are not giving up.

Save Skaha Park Society has filed a lawsuit against Penticton mayor and council and the developer, Trio Marine. The lawsuit asks the courts to force a referendum so that residents are given the final say.

The controversial project which includes an expanded marina, new restaurant, and a waterslide park was already approved by council, who said the rules didn’t require a referendum to change the land use.

“We’re not opposed to a marina expansion, and we’re not opposed to a nice restaurant on our end of town. What we are opposed to is seven people deciding what should have been decided democratically, by all the residents of Penticton,” says Carolae Donohue, who speaks for the group.

The lawsuit isn’t the only thing slowing down the development. The Penticton Indian Band sent a letter to Penticton council Monday night asking for more consultation about the environmental and archaeological impact.

Trio Marine issued a statement Tuesday evening responding to the lawsuit and the band’s letter. In the statement, the developer says it plans to keep moving forward with the project.

“We would like to recognize people’s passion for this project, both the positive and the not so positive. Trio Marine Group will continue to work together with the City of Penticton, Save Skaha Park society, and the Penticton Indian Band to discuss concerns of all parties involved while working towards a positive advancement of the Skaha Lake project,” says Trio in its statement.

Trio was supposed to have a joint lease between itself, the city, and the province, ready to sign by October 1. That deadline has been extended for another 12 months.

If and when the project gets going is now up in the air.

“Over the next year and with a pending suit, I think all parties will evaluate things and go from there,” says Mayor Andrew Jakubeit

The question of a referendum will decide the park’s fate once and for all, is now up in the air.

 

Media Statement September 29th, 2015

Trio Marine Group would like to acknowledge papers received on September 25th, 2015 from the Save Skaha Park society filing a civil lawsuit claim in B.C. Supreme Court and a letter dated August 28th, 2015 from the Penticton Indian Band requesting further consultation with an environmental and archaeological impact study.

Trio acknowledges there was information to be submitted to the City of Penticton by October 1st, 2015, taking into consideration a lease agreement with the province of B.C. which had not been received by the City of Penticton and the letter from the Penticton Indian Band, the City of Penticton and Trio engaged in discussion of possible lease extensions. Recognizing the above uncertainties, Trio felt it would be in the best interest of all parties not to submit a detailed financial plan by October 1st, 2015 until the above conditions had been satisfied.

We would like to acknowledge with this matter now being a legal issue, further comments have to be kept limited. We would like to recognize people’s passion for this project, both the positive and the not so positive. Trio Marine Group will continue to work together with the City of Penticton, Save Skaha Park society, and the Penticton Indian Band to discuss concerns of all parties involved while working towards a positive advancement of the Skaha Lake project.

Trio Marine Group


Almost 1000 show up to Skaha Park event

Around 1,000 Penticton residents stood side by side in Skaha Park to form a human chain around the park land on Sunday.

The Save Skaha Park group protested that they are about to lose the land to a waterslide project that they are calling “immensely unpopular.” The entire perimeter consisting of 1,700 ft. surrounding the leased area was marked with people standing shoulder to shoulder.

The group also tagged 25 mature trees with yellow ribbon to mark their loss.

The group said this was the fourth and by far best attended event that has been organized by registered society “Save Skaha Park”, in their fight against commercializing our public parkland and they believe it is a strong indication of the huge and continually mounting opposition to this unpopular project.

 


Human chain of 900-plus surrounds waterslide area

A New Look at Skaha Lake Park More than 900 residents were photographed from a helicopter, Sunday afternoon at Skaha Lake Park, where concerned citizens created a human chain around the area that will be used for a waterslide park and miniature golf course

A New Look at Skaha Lake Park
More than 900 residents were photographed from a helicopter, Sunday afternoon at Skaha Lake Park, where concerned citizens created a human chain around the area that will be used for a waterslide park and miniature golf course

Tall people in the back, shorter people up front, the goalies can lay down.

More than 900 Penticton residents posed for a unique group photo, Sunday, forming a human chain at Skaha Lake Park.

The photo op, captured on camera and video by a helicopter high above, was organized by Save Skaha Park, a citizens’ lobby group opposed to a 29-year lease of public park space for a commercial waterslide and miniature golf.

Citizens of all ages stood shoulder-to-shoulder around the portion of the park that will be the site of the waterslides, scheduled for construction in 2017. Many seniors were in scooters and walkers.

An African drum group, The Rippers, provided percussion music as protesters patiently waited for the helicopter to fly by. There was a thunderous cheer when it flew over, on schedule, at 2:30 p.m.

“This has exceeded my expectations,” said co-organizer Lisa Martin. “We were hoping for 400 people and didn’t really know what to expect. It shows momentum hasn’t died. People are passionate about saving their park.”

Martin said two volunteers did a head count around the circle and there were somewhere between 900 and 1,000 participants plus many others who stood outside the chain and observed.

“How can they ignore this?,” she asked in reference to Penticton City Council. “There are more than 900 people here saying they want the park saved and at some point they will have to reconsider.”

Video from the event will be posted on YouTube.

No municipal politicians were in attendance but several candidates who ran unsuccessfully in 2014 participated in the rally.

Martin is uncertain what her committee’s next event will be. Thus far there have been two rallies outside City Hall and a concert in the park. They may pause for the winter months.

Martin confirmed that a lawyer who specializes in municipal law has been hired and donations for legal fees are being accepted which have ranged from $10 to $1,000.

“We meet every week and we will will now see where we go from here,” she said.

Unrelated to the Save Skaha Park group, citizen Elvena Slump has collected 2,200 names of Penticton residents on her recall petition. Slump plus several volunteers are setting up this morning outside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, site of the GoMedia conference where 120 international writers will be in attendance, from 7:30 until 9:30 a.m.

Although there are no recall laws in British Columbia, she hopes to collect 3,000 signatures to present to Premier Christy Clark. Slump’s list of concerns include the process of the 2014 municipal election.


Save Skaha Park planning human-chain protest Sunday

Save Skaha Park A protest earlier this month in Skaha Lake Park

Save Skaha Park
A protest earlier this month in Skaha Lake Park

Save Skaha Park is staging another event to keep the spotlight on its cause.

The citizens’ advocacy group, opposed to the forthcoming construction of a commercial waterslide venture on public parkland, hopes to create a human chain with at least 400 participants on Sunday.

The event begins at 2 p.m. near the boat launch area.

Participants are asked to wear bright-coloured clothing as they will be photographed and video recorded from a helicopter up above.

The purpose of the exercise is awareness, said Save Skaha Park spokeswoman Lisa Martin.

“We had about 500 people out for a concert earlier this month and we’re hoping to get as many people or more to create the human chain around the parkland we could lose,” she said. “This is going to be part of Penticton’s history as this event will be archived for the ages.”

Martin said the group continues to maintain its momentum with its own website plus a stronger presence on social media.

The website has also archived all letters to the editor in both The Herald and Penticton Western News. To date there have been 322 letters published, only 13 which were in support of the project.

“Every city in B.C. should be paying attention to what is going on here,” Martin said. “If Penticton City Council can decide to dispose of publicly owned park land and hand it to private developers, with no input from the people who own it, then your parkland is in danger too.”

Martin said legal action could be taken against the City of Penticton, but she failed to elaborate, stating only that a lawyer has been hired. Nor would she divulge the amount of money that’s been collected from the community to launch the action.

The Save Skaha Park group has been in existence for two months, but just finalized its advisory panel of Gary Denton, Carolae Donoghue, Gerry Karr, Jake Kimberley, Cliff Martin, Duane Martin, Lisa Martin, Benoit Robert, Lenora Robinson and Louella Sloboda.

Save Skaha Park is also inviting all of the travel writers who will be arriving in Penticton on Sunday for the Go Media Marketplace conference to attend their rally and tour the area. It’s hoped the human chain will catch the attention of the Vancouver media.