Seniors only part of the objectors

Dear Editor:

There have been many unfortunate things said and done over the duration of the Trio train wreck. I have even said some of them myself. And perhaps this letter is more of the same. However, I would like to bring forward some questions, and make some observations.

I have read all three versions of the proposed contracts. I can’t claim to have understood them. Could it perhaps be, that among the people who have led the opposition to the Trio deal, there are people with business, legal, and civic government experience who have read and analyzed the proposals and contracts and found things that they believe are not in the best interests of Penticton?

Could it be that there are legitimate grounds for challenging the proposed contracts? Could it be that, even on the third try, council has bought a pig in a poke, and differing agendas may lead to problems down the road?

A few people have made much, in a fairly ugly manner, of the average age of the visible, active opponents of the Trio deal, and how much seniors are anti- progress in Penticton. And yet, I haven’t seen any seniors picketing the new breweries, distilleries, wineries, and commercial developments in town. There are no grey-haired protest lines around the new casino. No blockade of walkers and scooters is preventing construction of the new wing of the Lakeside Resort – which is on private, not public property. There were no blue-haired grannies lying on the ground knitting to stop the developments on Main Street.

According to City of Penticton figures, the majority of Penticton’s population is between ages 18 and 60. There seems to be a convenient reality gap for some people — the highest degree of approval for the original waterslide proposal was 24 per cent in the 18-30 year old population.

The problem was not that seniors were against that proposal — the problem was that an overwhelming majority of Penticton residents were against that proposal. Young and old.

And, many thanks to the seniors and others who took the time to stand up and speak on behalf of the 79 per cent of all ages who opposed that deal. The sooner the senior slammers digest that point, drop their bigotry, and rejoin reality, the more likely we are to see progress in Penticton.

Ron Smuin



No one will be re-elected

Dear Editor:

So it appears that five members of this council have no interest in getting re-elected! Either that or they’re living in Cloud Cuckoo Land!

After the obvious opposition to the Trio deal, they still approved it. Do they seriously imagine that peoples’ memories are so short that they will have forgotten this come 2018?

Coun. Campbell Watt may get some support since he voted against it but the voters will still remember that he was one of the councillors who voted to start this debacle in the first place. Coun. Tarik Sayeed obviously doesn’t intend to run since his focus is elsewhere.

After much talk that it would cost $250,000 to break the deal, now they are saying the cost would be in seven-figures. What about the seven-figures of taxpayers money they will now waste defending the two pending lawsuits?

Not to mention that, if the court allows the contract to proceed, the next mayor and council will likely be largely comprised of candidates who have vowed to unwind the deal and this will involve considerably more expense than would have been incurred if they had scrapped it now.

I suspect that, if our councillors had to fund this out of their own pockets, the decision would have been very different.

Brian Butler



Irony from Trio owner

Dear Editor:

After attending both the Nov. 23 public hearing and Dec. 1 council meeting, it has become apparent that mayor and council have tunnel vision and have only publicly addressed what council feels is the only issue with the Skaha Park fiasco — the loss of green space and that the latest agreements between the City and Trio Marine meets this perceived objective.

However, questions on the City’s failure to comply with statutorily mandated procedural requirements set out in both provincial and city bylaws have still not been addressed and the citizens need them answered.

The Interpretation Act defines “dispose” as “means to transfer by any method and includes assign, give, sell, grant, charge, convey, bequeath, devise, lease, divest, release and agree to do any of those things.”

This question alone should have automatically established the need for public input and approval of the electorate as outlined in the Community Charter which sets out the requirements that councils must follow for property disposal.

Leasing the Skaha Lake Park land as part of a private/public partnership with a 29-year lease with option to renew for two five-year terms is a form of disposal as referenced in the Interpretation Act and Charter.

Then there is the decision to forgive the approximately $36,000 owing to the City by Trio for the lease and taxes; which once again is in violation of the Charter which sets out the restriction on providing assistance.

Section 25 of the Charter states that unless expressly authorized under the Charter, a council must not provide a grant, benefit, advantage or other form of assistance to a business, including any form of assistance referred to in section 24 (1), or an exemption from a tax or fee.

Then there is non-compliance with City Bylaws Bylaw 2002-20 Office Community Plan, Zoning Bylaw No. 2011-23, Chapter 8 – Specific Use Regulations P2 – Parks and Recreation, and Bylaw 2002-42 Parks Dedication Bylaw does not allow for restaurants or retail.

My question to mayor and council would be: “How did Trio get a business license to operate without the proper amendments to the bylaws which again requires electorate approval?”

I find irony in the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce president Tom Dyas’s — who is a principal owner of Trio Marine — NIMBY (not in my back yard) statement to Global Okanagan and Chamber press release in opposition to a land use (supervised consumption site on Leon Avenue) issue in Kelowna, but Dyas feels it is OK to come into Penticton’s backyard destroying prized parkland with commercial development.

William Duff



Must stage an inquiry

Dear Editor:

People of Penticton, this city council must be stopped. This whole thing is embarrassing!

Please do the following.

On the Internet, read “the Corporation of the City of Penticton…Official Community Bylaw Plan No. 2002-20,by Mayor Mike Pearce /Council Part 1 Role.,Part, Scope of O.C.P.PAGES 0NE(1) TO SEVEN (7).”

The public “must be taken in to account property owners views are required for any changes to the parks of the community plan policy.”

Therefore, I, Don Stayko strongly suggest:

1. Immediately an injunction be served to the City of Penticton, mayor and council on all matters pertaining to Skaha Lake Park and Trio’s business transactions, thereby freezing all contractual and legal matters until legally advised otherwise. Everything remains in obeyance!

2. A public inquiry begin appointing a third party through the judicial/ provincial system as to any possible misconduct or misrepresentation by either or all parties in the matter of Skaha Lake Park. (This whole thing smells funny and with no public approval.)

3. The purpose of the above is to take the usage of Skaha Lake Park to its rightful purpose as the Skaha Lake Park as per part 1 of the Official Community Plan bylaw passed by mayor Mike Pearce and the council of the day.

4. The Penticton property taxpayer today should not be held responsible for misrepresentation that did not following municipal ethics.

My final question is in two parts.

If this was such an important matter for two years (if not longer) why wasn’t the Skaha Lake Park approval added to the election ballot in 2014 as a referendum question?

Why was the addition of medical benefits approved by city council never made public or added to the referendum for approval.

Don Stayko



Lost battle, will win war

Dear Editor:

Well as all of you who attended last Thursday’s council meeting found out the old adage still holds true: you can’t fight city hall.

However as someone also pointed out just because you lose one battle doesn’t mean you lose the war. The residents of Penticton will not accept a 29-year lease in our beautiful Skaha Park. I cannot understand that after all the opposition this project has brought forth mayor and council decided to give Trio Marine the go-ahead.

They will reap the results at the next municipal election.

Joan Eschbach



Democratic dictatorship

Dear Editor:

Once again, the Peter Principle shines through Penticton City Council.

True, the Dec. 1 meeting was announced in November. It was not a surprise. What was a surprise is the fact that the “complete agenda” was not made public (on the city website) until a few hours before the actual meeting.

Once again, the corporate office seems to emphasize the Peter Principle. Convenient, or what?

Up to now, (I don’t see it changing anytime soon), this council has adopted an attitude of democratic dictatorship. To better understand this, democratic dictatorship is described as:

“A form of government where the candidate is elected by popular vote but rarely or never actually enacts any policies that reflect the actual wishes of the constituency. The elected representative can either use subtle diplomacy to deflect criticism, arrange for various forms of distraction to divert public attention, or be brazen in publicly declaring that policy will be different from popular opinion.”

Does this describe the current council and its actions? You be the judge!

Look back at the election. How many polling stations were there? We all know the answer to that… one. How many of the pre-election promises of transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility have been kept? Almost none! The infrastructure funding status continues to be a problem yet upper echelon staff has been increased by at least three new hires (possible total expenditure $200,000, plus or minus).

This is probably an amount that might make Trio go away. In many taxpayers’ minds, it would be money better spent!

In the latest agreement proposal ( Dec.1, 2016), there seems to be the words “public consultation” that appear throughout the agreement. Sounds good doesn’t it? Wow, taxpayers will have input, can you imagine that? But wait! To better understand this, we need to first understand what public consultation is.

“Public consultation, or simply consultation, is a regulatory process by which the public’s input on matters affecting them is sought. Its main goals are in improving the efficiency, transparency and public involvement in large-scale projects or laws and policies.”

Having made this statement, I would offer the following (in terms of COP performance): “Ineffective consultations are considered to be cosmetic consultations that were done due to obligation or show and not true participatory decision making.”

For the balance of council’s mandate how many more times are we likely to be “thrown under the bus by council?” Silly me for thinking this way! After all this is a democratic dictatorship isn’t it!

Ron Barillaro




Council commits political suicide

Dear Editor:

I see despite overwhelming opposition, letters to the editor, rallies, and lawsuits, Penticton City Council approved the deal with Trio Marine and gave them their 29-year lease. The City is also going to forgive the outstanding $36,000 in unpaid rent and compensate them $40,000 for the loss of the waterslides. Are you kidding me?

Why are mayor and council bending over so far backwards to accommodate this outfit? Something really, really stinks here.

To mayor and council, don’t even bother putting your name in the hat for re-election in 2018, because you have effectively just committed political suicide.

Mark Billesberger



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



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



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