by Steve Kidd:
The celebration may be a day late for Earth Day, but the Save Skaha Park society is hoping to make the park a very busy place on April 23 for their own celebration in honour of the day.
“We have always been about keeping the green space at Skaha Park, so we thought it was a natural fit … make it all about why we want to save Skaha Park as it is, green and open and free.” said spokesperson Lisa Martin.
The event takes place around the Rotary Pavilion from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, with speakers, performers, walking tours and displays. There will also be free tree seedlings for the first 100 people that ask.
The poster from the event features a stunning image of the resident painted turtles courtesy of local photographer John Poon. While their aim isn’t only to protect their habitat, Martin said that is certainly part of the society’s agenda.
“We don’t want anything, any of the riparian landscape in that park to be affected, which it most definitely would be. Turtles, ducks, anything that lives down there by the stream,” said Martin.
The Saturday celebration has another purpose. It’s also the launch of the society’s drive to increase their membership to 10,000. Considering they currently have 1,400 members, that is a long way to go.
“It is very aggressive, but this is just the kickoff,” said Martin. “We also have other events planned, we are going to be doing fan outs, we are going to be putting membership forms in local papers. We have a number of ideas for ways to get membership forms in people’s hands.
“We will have online registration through our website. We are making it as easy as possible.”
Martin said the reason for trying to reach 10,000 members is because of advice from their legal counsel. The society is backing a civil suit in B.C. Supreme court to block the 29-year lease on a portion of the park granted to Trio Marine Group by the City of Penticton. Trio’s original plans were to build a waterslide complex in the eastern corner of the park.
“Should we actually end up in court, it is good for us to have as many members in our society as possible,” said Martin. “Any judge that we go in front of will of course say that they really do have the support of the community.”
Martin said they have support beyond their 1,400 members. On ongoing petition has been signed by 5,207 residents and 3,182 non-residents.
“We know we have got it, we just need to have it in a tangible way,” said Martin. “We have put the invitation out to everybody. We want to get our members, we want to get brand new people and anybody who is interested in saving the earth, and in particular, saving Skaha Park.”