City councillors have their say on waterslide issue

The Herald asked individual members of Penticton City Council, how do you think the changes to Skaha Park waterfront will affect, benefit or hurt our community?

HELENA KONANZ

I believe the upgrades to the Skaha Park water front will greatly benefit the people of this community.

After reviewing the plans and listening to many residents, I came to the conclusion that this would be a fantastic addition to this area of the city.

The marina needs a drastic upgrade, as the infrastructure is deteriorating and there is a long waiting list for boat slips. And  the new cafe will be the only waterfront restaurant on that entire lake.

A waterslide park, upgraded splash park, and new boathouse will increase the vibrancy in the south end of Penticton.

And there are other reasons I feel this project will benefit Penticton. During  the election period, we as candidates were inundated with questions concerning the youth in our community. I was continually asked what I was going to do to add more amenities to the city, so that young people would have more to do.

All candidates were told to “think out of the box”, and that it was “time for change.”  A waterslide park and upgraded marina would be a healthy place for young teens to work or hang out. It will also attract more tourists.

Many families are not staying here because they say there isn’t enough for kids to do. And many people who currently have high-paying jobs in Penticton are choosing to live in other communities like West Kelowna, for example, and commute to Penticton because of lack of opportunities for their kids. And the income the city generates from the lease of this land will go towards the acquisition of new park space throughout the entire City.

I’ve been approached by many people of all ages through email, phone calls, social media, and in person, who are incredibly supportive of this entire project.  I’ve also heard from many who are opposed to it.

Skaha Park is beautiful, and we need to continue to be good stewards in maintaining that beauty.  But after weighing all the pros and cons, I feel the project would benefit  the entire city. This will definitely not solve all the problems we currently have with the economy or with tourism in Penticton, but it will be a step in the right direction.

ANDRE MARTIN

I believe it will affect the community in a positive way despite its very polarized presence by bringing attention back to civic politics and what is actually happening in our community — a change that is positive. I see that as a benefit.

There is also the opportunity to receive lease funds, share revenue, and create employment for the citizens. Plus, upgrades to our facilities by the private sector that the citizens don’t have to pay for. Pretty much everyone agrees the marina needed an upgrade and we have a private company giving us that and in return we provide them access to City-owned land. I believe this is a win-win for the community.

You ask about hurt… well if it doesn’t succeed that would be sad as I don’t want any business to not succeed. After all, at the end of the day they employ the taxpayers and provide the services we need to enjoy the best place on earth.

MAX PICTON

Skaha Park is an absolutely amazing amenity to our city that is well loved by all that use it, meaning that any type of changes or developments in this park will affect our community. Our job as Council is to make informed decisions we feel would ultimately benefit our community as a whole.

When I first looked at this proposal for Skaha Park, I began weighing the pros versus the cons.  I read the contract and could see the financial benefits to the City and the designs looked appealing on paper but I felt more information was needed, so I took the time to visit the property and meet the developer, walking every square inch to fully comprehend what was being proposed.

During this walk, I saw which trees were being saved and the few which would unfortunately be removed. I saw the existing structures and amenities and how they would be improved upon for public use. I was happy to see walking access would be maintained for those that enjoy the laneways, and that seating areas and green space were to be added along the waters edge where asphalt currently exists.

I was encouraged that the waterway was being preserved with proper riparian setbacks and that the development would contain green space within. The goal was to blend this waterpark into our park aesthetically, not to take it over.

I also took the time to meet and discuss the project at length with many of the citizens of Penticton, along with several of the regular tourists that visit the area as well. I heard many voices from both sides of the discussion, with each presenting valuable comments and insight into the debate.

At the end of the day, it was time to do our job and determine whether this would benefit or hurt our community. Upon weighing all the pros and cons, my conclusion was, while not everyone would agree, the diversification of this section of our park would be of overall benefit to our community as a whole, increasing the use of Skaha Park by both citizens and visitors alike.

TARIK SAYEED

It is about more than just creating waterslides. The actual space taken by the waterslides is a very small percentage of the park.

This will inject vibrancy into Penticton’s southern lake, as part of the waterfront enhancement strategic priority. The waterslides are only one part of the equation and it is about creating a vibrant hub for families to enjoy as a whole in a variety of ways. It is a calculated risk that I was willing to take for the progress of Penticton.

JUDY SENTES

The refurbishing of the waterfronts in Penticton has been a strategic priority of City Council for some time now. Begun by the previous Council and continued by the current one, the intent is to bring a balance of vibrancy, tradition and utilization to both the waterfronts.

I believe that the upgrade to only 11 per cent of Skaha Park will maintain what people enjoy today while enhancing the opportunities  of enjoyment for everyone.

Although some were uncertain and even unsupportive of the renovation of the Okanagan Lake waterfront, now that a major portion of that plan had been completed, there is significant approval and, indeed even more utilization of that area.

CAMPBELL WATT

I think this is a tough question to answer. The immediate affect to our community has obviously already been a hurtful one with the division of the community and the ever growing level of frustration from both “sides”.

I for one would love to have had time to further research this development for a few reasons including some legal and financial issues but also largely to come up with potential mitigation of the lose of crucial parkland. I do, however, understand that this is in fact a development and not multiple individual stand-alone businesses.

The marina, restaurant, water sport rentals and water park area (water slides, mini golf, etc.) are all necessary to compliment each other and needed for the overall success of one another.

I am hopeful that in time the development as a whole will be a benefit to our community adding one more reason to visit, stay, enjoy and eventually move to Penticton. The reason that we have many of our citizens, if you ask them, is “I came here as a kid and I loved it.”

I am not suggesting that waterslides are going to attract 1,000 people per day, but I’m saying as a whole development it can create a wonderful destination opportunity at the South end of town.