Trio Marine Group responds to concerns about Skaha park

55a8587eadf60.imageOpen letter to the citizens of Penticton:

Following the approval of the exciting development of the Skaha Lake Marina by Penticton’s City Council, Trio Marine Group continues to welcome open discussion with stakeholders, neighbours to the marina, and concerned citizens of Penticton.

Our mission is to revitalize the Skaha Lake side of Penticton with exciting, affordable opportunities for people of all ages. We want to share our vision with our neighbours and assure the public that we are listening to and taking their concerns into consideration. We look forward to being a part of the vibrant waterfront at Penticton’s south end.

Members of the public have expressed concern about certain aspects of the development, and the development’s website has been updated to include a section of questions and answers, as Trio wishes to have an open dialogue about the marina and its goals. Visit www.skahalakemarina.com to find out more.

In particular, Trio would like to clarify that the existing children’s free waterpark, referred to as the Splashpad, will not be lost but rather will be relocated to another location.

The new location is to be determined by Penticton City Council at the cost of Trio Marine. The Splashpad will continue to remain free for the public’s use and enjoyment.

The boat launch and beach will remain accessible to the public at no cost.

We want to express that our project is about providing the people of Penticton and the guests of the city with an avenue to have fun and enjoy themselves. The existing greenspace will be integrated into the design of the waterpark and preserved wherever possible. Furthermore, a portion of all profits brought in by the waterpark will go into funding greenspace in other areas of Penticton.

We look forward to serving the Penticton public and encourage anyone with questions to contact us for more information.

For more information, please visit www.skahalakemarina.com, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/skahalakemarina or email [email protected].

Sincerely,

Trio Marine Group


Jakubeit leaves door open to revisit Skaha Park decision

Now that there’s a possibility a referendum will be needed to approve construction of a hotel at the convention  centre, the mayor won’t rule out tacking on a question about a water park development at Skaha Lake.

Andrew Jakubeit warned, however, that a two-question vote is unlikely.

“They’re two separate issues and timelines may not coincide, for starters,” he said, noting it could be months before a hotel proposal – if any even come forward – is ready to be put to voters for approval.

Plus, “You don’t want to have a referendum every time there’s a difficult decision to be made. That’s why a mayor and council is elected,” he added.

But he left the door open to revisit council’s decision to strike a deal with Trio Marine Group to redevelop a portion of Skaha Lake Park to add water slides, a plan that has proven contentious enough to inspire a rally Monday at City Hall.

“Park land certainly brings out a lot of passion in people, and that’s good that we’re having a dialogue on our community’s future,” said Jakubeit.

The mayor confirmed council will be watching to see how many people turn out for the rally and how many names are gathered on a petition against the project before it will consider backtracking on the water park.

“Right now, we’re still moving forward, but if there’s significant concern demonstrated in the community, then of course we’ll have to re-evaluate what we want to do and have a discussion about what we want to do next and how we want to deal with it,” said Jakubeit.

Meanwhile, Trio Marine Group has issued an open letter to Penticton residents to clear up some misconceptions about the project. It’s available in the letters section of the Herald website.


Public reactions to Skaha no surprise

City hall seems a bit surprised at the reaction to their endorsement of Trio Marine’s plans to lease parkland from the city and build a waterslide park and other amenities.

Though there was a special council meeting to hear public input about the plan on June 29, where council listened to public concerns about the project for three hours before giving Trio Marine the go-ahead, public concern has continued to grow. It is unlikely to encourage city council to reverse its decision on the Skaha Marina plan, but a rally is planned for city hall steps before the regular council meeting on July 20.

Council shouldn’t be surprised at the reaction. While this project is a good example, it is not the first time council have mishandled communications with the public. Rumours of the Skaha Marina project have circulated through the community since last fall, including some far-fetched speculation, like a major hotel complex. But rather than engage the public, council remained silent, and encouraged Trio Marine to do the same; to not talk about their plans, even in a general way. Even then, it was clear that public park land might be part of the deal.

This was an ideal point to begin engaging with the public, and before the deal had gone too far, find out if the community was willing to give up park land for a privately-operated waterslide park — a worthwhile tourist attraction for a city with a tourism reputation based on peaches and beaches.

Or the city and Trio Marine could have engaged the public after the deal was more fully-formed. But instead, the public only found out the details at the beginning of June, with only a month for any public consultation — far too short a time for a major project. Compare that with the downtown revitalization project, where a year was spent consulting the public in a variety of venues.

You might argue that this is a private company, not a public venture, but the fact remains that the Skaha Marina project is based on removing public land from our park inventory.


Resident plans rally to protect Penticton greenspaces

A resident who’s weary of decisions made by council is organizing a protest in front of City Hall.

Cliff Martin worries that Penticton’s mayor and council are not listening to what the general public wants with public land.

“I’m totally against the use of public parks for private interest,” he said. “There should be a referendum whenever there’s a proposed change to the status of any public land,” said Martin.

The city’s agreement to lease a portion of Skaha Beach to Trio Marine Group is what prompted Martin to plan the demonstration, which came after a series of green space losses — including land near the SS Sicamous and the baseball diamond near the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

He’s inviting citizens who share his concern to assemble out front of City Hall prior to the next regular council meeting on Monday, July 20.

“What better time to do it then before a council meeting?” he said.

The demonstration will begin at 5 p.m., and Martin said he’s expecting a large turnout.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he aims to appease the majority of the community; not the loudest group.

“We’ll wait and see what transpires (out of the July 20 demonstration),” he said. “Quite often the silent majority is excited about some of the developments and change, and they aren’t very vocal. The vocal minority sometimes gets very organized and have dictated what direction councils in the past should take.”

Instead of building a permanent structure, Martin thinks the Wibit Water Park, which only occupies real estate on the surface of Lake Okanagan, is an ideal attraction for the community. He believes council was wrongfully persuaded into seeing the proposed waterpark at Skaha Marina as beneficial to the community.

“The biggest problem is with city planners who are just feeding these guys — our mayor and council have intelligence, but they’re eating up everything.”

He said council’s current roster is giving away public lands at a rate faster than he’s ever seen.

“These parks are valuable — it took us took a long time to get them all.”

But the city will be using money from the deal to promote future park acquisition. Revenues from the Skaha Marina lease agreement, as well as the city’s cut of revenue sharing from the waterpark, will be invested in future park space. That will produce “substantial numbers that will be able to help finance a park elsewhere, maybe pocket park in an area we don’t have one,” Jakubeit said, adding that maintaining parks is also very expensive. He said the city’s revenue from the lease will significantly contribute towards green space all throughout the community.

“Not just Skaha Park but all Penticton parks in general — we want to make sure that the parks we have get better utilization out of them,” he said. “Everyone agrees that parks are important, and we want to see as many green spaces and as much utilization from the community as possible.”

Jakubeit said council acts holistically when deciding upon any development, and that people’s opposition and petitions are often based on misinformation.


Public protest over proposed water slide park, hotel at PT&CC

Penticton resident Clifford Martin has organized a rally to protest removal of parkland to outside developers

Martin, who successfully lobbied City Hall in 2012 to maintain angle parking on Lakeshore Drive, is incensed with a proposed water slide park to be leased at Skaha Lake Park. He’s also concerned over the possible removal of a baseball diamond at 325 Power Street, near the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, to house a hotel complex.

Martin would like to see both issues decided by a public referendum.

Martin is asking anyone with similar viewpoints to join him outside Penticton City Hall on Monday, July 20 at 5 p.m. prior to a city council meeting.


Too little, too late for Skaha’s fate

Even though they talked for three hours, the voices raised at a special meeting of council on Monday may still have been a case of too little, too late.

Council voted 5 to 2 to greenlight a plan that will see Trio Marine Group convert the area around the Skaha Marina, including a good-sized chunk of Skaha Lake Park, into a water slide attraction.

In a tourist town, the idea of adding another amenity to attract tourists isn’t a bad idea. But in this situation it will come at the cost of leasing part of a public park to private interests, in addition to temporarily removing the public (and free) splash park that presently graces that end of the park.

Many of the protests council listened to during the lengthy public hearing questioned whether the development was going in the right place. And now that council has given Trio the go ahead the tune has changed to one that council isn’t listening to the voice of the people.

On the surface, that is true. But digging deeper, we have to ask why there hasn’t been ongoing protests, starting last September, when the City of Penticton forced out the previous leaseholders — the Attrill family, who operated the marina and their business there since 1986 — in favour of the bigger plans put forward by Trio. Details were sketchy at the time — itself a warning sign that more was going on behind closed doors than the City wanted taxpayers to know about, or could divulge at the time — but it was clear that public park lands were part of the deal.

If the people of this community wanted to put a stop to this deal, or make Trio Marine fit it better with our community’s overall desires, that was when the questions and demands for answers should have started.

But by the time of the June 29 hearing arrived, it was already too late. After more than a year of planning this sale of public land, mostly behind closed doors, council had little choice but to support the deal.

 


Council approves Skaha Lake Park redevelopment by 5-2 vote

55922c9285192.imageA planned transformation of Skaha Lake Park has received the blessing of local politicians.

Penticton city council on Monday agreed to a deal with Trio Management that will see an expanded marina and restaurant  in 2016. Water slides and mini-golf are expected to be in place by 2018, and a cold beer and wine store is also a possibility.

It took three hours of public input followed by 35 minutes of debate at the council table to reach the decision. Of the 35 speakers who presented to council, 27 were strongly opposed, seven in favour (including one from West Kelowna and another North Vancouver) while one appeared neutral.

The vast consensus was support for expanded marina operations and acceptance of a restaurant, but strong opposition to leasing public parkland for an amusement area.

Trio spokesman Tom Dyas said the $2.2-million project has been met with keen enthusiasm from the vast majority of Penticton residents he and his partners have spoken with. He said it’s a much-needed attraction to bring young families to the area and will prove a popular destination with young kids and teens.

Lila Parsons, a 37-year resident of Penticton, supported the idea, but suggested locating it on the Penticton Indian Reserve, which will soon have additional access from Green Avenue.

“They’re open for business,” Parsons said.

Regional district director Tim Siddon, who represents Kaleden and Okanagan Falls, expressed concerns on issues including quality of drinking water, sockeye salmon and agreements with the PIB.

“We all drink water that comes from that lake,” Siddon said in reference to neighbouring communities. “There are 100,000 sockeye salmon thanks to Okanagan Nation and the Penticton Indian Band. How will they be affected. I’m not sure Chief (Jonathan) Kruger was ever told. They need to do an environmental impact study.”

Retired research scientist Harvey Quamme presented council with a petition with 428 names. Dyas interjected that at least 100 were from out-of-town.

Former mayor Jake Kimberley said Skaha Lake Park is what it is today because of service clubs raising money for things such as a kids’ splash pad.

Making reference to a rainstorm earlier in the day, Kimberley said, “It was the sound of former mayors of this city who purchased millions of dollars in property to expand, to make enough parkland for future generations to enjoy. Don’t take it away.”

Acting city manager Mitch Moroziuk said that according to the deal with Trio, the splash pad as well as other existing amenities must be relocated at the developer’s expense. When pressed, Moroziuk said no special considerations are being given to the group.

Realtor Gary Denton, a former city councillor, noted Stanley Park in Vancouver has been a prime target of developers since 1886. He asked what Stanley Park would be today if private businesses were permitted there.

“What would the reaction be from the people of Vancouver?” said Denton.

Some speakers drew comparisons with the ill-fated Eckhardt Avenue hockey dormitory project, while others lent support.

Diana Stirling, speaking on behalf of Tourism Penticton, and Jennifer Taylor, for the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, both gave the project glowing endorsements.

Councillors had a series of questions for the developers.

Tarik Sayeed asked about the length of the lease and Campbell Watt about whether there was ever an environmental study conducted. Andre Martin inquired about parking and Helena Konanz as to how much green space would be lost.

Sayeed suggested a clause for the developer to offer a 50 per cent discount to low-income children and Konanz wanted money from the lease to go exclusively to replacing green space.

Neither suggestion found a seconder.

Moroziuk said there’s a detailed list of protections for the City in the contract, which can be read online.

In the end, Council voted 5-2 in favour of advancing the project to the next level with Sayeed and Mayor Andrew Jakubeit opposed.

Jakubeit said he supports the water slide concept but “wouldn’t mind a little bit of extra time” to consider other options.

Martin suggested the time had come to let Trio get to work.

“In business, you need certainty and we should give them our blessing today so they can get the ball rolling and so get their finances going,” he said.


Penticton City Council meets tonight

A public hearing on a proposed water park and marina expansion for Skaha Park is among the items on tonight’s Penticton City Council agenda.

Council will also give the first three readings of its fees and charges amendment bylaw which will include an amendment to the electrical service payment plan.

Council will also discuss the naming of a new street in a subdivision at 2750 Cedar Road.

Tonight’s meeting, beginning at 6 p.m., is at City Hall and opened to the public.

To view the entire agenda package visit www.penticton.ca (follow the links: City Hall; Mayor and Council; Council meetings; 2015 Council Meeting Agendas; June 29.)


Public hearing on waterslide, marina expansion, Monday at City Hall

A public hearing on a proposed water park and marina expansion for Skaha Park will be the main item of interest at a special meeting of Penticton City Council scheduled for Monday at City Hall beginning at 6 p.m.

At issue is a 29-year lease for a large section of Skaha Lake Park. Last year, the City awarded a management contract of the public marina to Trio Marine Group. In addition to operating the marina, they are proposing additional boat slips, a pair of waterslides and mini golf and a full-operation restaurant.

Harvey Quamme, a retired scientist, is among the project’s detractors. In less than 10 days he’s collected 67 signatures on a written petition plus an additional 150 on the webite ipetition.com (www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-our-green-space-in-skaha-park),

“We went to an information session sponsored by Trio and we suddenly realized how much land it would take up in this beautiful park,” Quamme said. “My wife and I are concerned about a lack of information. Doing rough calculations, it’s about 25 per cent. It’s by far the best and most beautiful park in the city and they’re wanting to put in waterslides.”

Admittedly not an expert on waterslides, he’s reviewed the proposed numbers many times and describes the concept as “fuzzy” and fears the city could be entering into “a pig in a poke.”

Former mayor Dorothy Tinning is also opposed.

“I am the first to admit that young children and teens love using water slides two or three months of the year, but a proposal such as this needs to be built on private land, not land that is for the enjoyment of all citizens,” she wrote in a letter to the editor. “There is a cost for families to use a commercial enterprise, that they currently enjoy in an area that is free.”

Following the public input session on Monday, council could green light the initial stages of the project. A nearly 150-page staff report is now available on the City’s website.

Thus far the concept appears to be receiving a warm reception from city councillors.

Coun. Helena Konanz previously said that when a privately-owned waterpark closed in the mid-2000s, Penticton began to see a drop in tourists because there were fewer family-oriented activities.

Resident Crystal Olson, who administers a Facebook page on positive changes for Penticton, praises the idea.

“With Barefoot Beach blooming, I think this is so amazing for this end of town,” Olson wrote.

Fellow group member Robyn Hebert echoed, “Now we have waterslides again. This is terrific!”

Two additional items are also on Monday’s agenda.

Council will give the first three readings of its fees and charges amendment bylaw which will include an amendment to the electrical service payment plan.

Council will also discuss the naming of a new street in a subdivision at 2750 Cedar Road.

To view the entire agenda package visit www.penticton.ca (follow the links: City Hall; Mayor and Council; Council meetings; 2015 Council Meeting Agendas; June 29.)


‘Well-funded’ group behind Skaha Marina plan opens doors to public

Not every neighbour is sold on the idea of waterslides as part of a proposed redevelopment of Skaha Lake Marina, according to the company’s pitch man.

Trio Marine Group operations manager Andrew Bayston is leading public consultation on the proposed overhaul that would include water slides, a two-storey restaurant, additional boat slips and more parking.

Some neighbours, he said Monday at a public open house, “are worried looking at the drawings and seeing a giant (water slides) tower, and they’re asking about the viability of the project.”

In response, he reminds people “they’re just conceptual drawings. Whether there’s an actual tower in the water park, I can’t say at this point, because they haven’t designed it,” Bayston said.

“Three years from now, there may be something new in water slides that we can open here.”

But so far, he said, response to the project, which still needs final approval from city council, has been “very positive.”

“There are always concerns. People ask a lot of the same questions, but we want to hear their input. Good or bad, we want to know,” Bayston said.

Besides doing some minor site improvements this spring, the company is also set to open a restaurant in the former Yamaha shop later this month. The eatery, called Slips, will be operated by Burger 55 owner Chris Boehm.

Major changes are expected to begin next year with reconstruction of the building to add a second storey for an expanded restaurant and space for up to 40 more boats in the marina.

Construction of the slides and relocation of existing amenities and parking lots is then expected to begin in earnest in 2017.

“Any of the public amenities that are available now are 100 per cent free and will always remain open to the public,” Bayston noted.

The projected cost of the redevelopment is pegged at $4.5 million, and the operations manager said Trio Marine Group is good for it.

“It’s all secured,” said Bayston, adding the project “has been well thought out over many years.”

He said the company owners – Rob Campbell, a lighting company executive; Tom Hedquist, owner of dock-builder Trademark Industries; and Tom Dyas, owner of TD Benefit Solutions – are “well-funded.”

Bayston has several more meetings planned with local business and recreation groups, before a special council meeting June 29, when residents will be invited to share their opinions on the proposal.