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.”
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.