City council not backing down from Skaha Park decision

Despite Penticton city council trying to close the issue, opponents of leasing a portion of Skaha Lake Park to private interests  aren’t giving up the fight.

A lone hand was raised by Coun. Campbell Watt when Mayor Andrew Jakubeit called a straw poll to determine if any of the councillors were in favour of revisiting their June 29 decision to sign an agreement with Trio Marine Group.

The other council members voted to continue without interrupting the process, including Jakubeit when pressed for his stand.

“I am united with council moving forward,” said Jakubeit. The poll was to determine whether Jakubeit should use his mayor’s privilege to return the waterslide project to the agenda, and while it was conducted at an official meeting, was not binding on him.

Campbell said he had several reasons for voting to reconsider, including legal issues and the dialogue in the community about the project.

“I am not suggesting in two months I wouldn’t vote for the project,” said Watt. “I just want a little extra time to do a little more due diligence and research.”

The agreement grants Trio a lease on the southeast corner of the park. Over the next few years, the company plans to refurbish and expand the marina, build a restaurant and a waterslide complex in the area of the park where the children’s splash pad is now located.

Jakubeit said he felt a lot of the opposition to Trio Marine’s project came from misinformation being spread in the community.

“Everybody is very entrenched in their position, but maybe not understanding all the facts,” said Jakubeit. “Just a lot of misinformation. I wish people took a little more time to understand. It is a park enhancement.”

Jakubeit’s straw poll came at a July 29 special council meeting, which was called to award the contract for the Penticton Creek Restoration project showcase, and increase its budget. That meeting took place at 9 a.m., after which council recessed to discuss the Skaha Park Marina issue behind closed doors, reconvening at noon to share their decision.

Cliff Martin, who is collecting signatures for a petition against leasing part of Skaha Lake Park, chats with Bill Duff about planning another rally for Aug. 4.

Cliff Martin, who is collecting signatures for a petition against leasing part of Skaha Lake Park, chats with Bill Duff about planning another rally for Aug. 4.

Council may not be able to put the decision behind them so easily. After the meeting adjourned, a series of speakers came forward to chastise council for what they saw as disregarding public sentiment.

Some, like Lynn Crassweller, complained that the public wasn’t given enough notice of the meeting. Notice of the special meeting was posted to the city website Tuesday, though the agenda contained no mention that  the waterslides would be discussed.

That was announced during question period after the morning portion of the meeting.

Even while council was still listening to concerns about their decision, Clifford Martin and other opponents were planning a second rally at city hall.

Bill Duff, spokesperson for the newly formed Concerned Penticton Residents Association, said he wasn’t surprised by the decision.

“I was hoping it was going to go back to council for reconsideration,” said Duff, adding that his group was investigating legal action.

“They were put on notice that we are following up with legal advice,” said Duff. The new group, which includes Clifford Martin, is planning another rally at City Hall on Aug. 4, in advance of council’s next regular meeting.

Jakubeit did say the contract with Trio has not been signed yet, though it has been returned to the city and he expects to sign it sometime in the next few days.