Council to carry on with Skaha Park water slides

55aeddfd9aea0.imageDespite a noisy protest Monday, city council is still moving forward with plans to allow construction of water slides in Skaha Lake Park.

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said in a statement he checked in with his council mates Tuesday “to gauge any interest in revisiting the issue” and found none.

“Council was united in their support to continue forward with the Trio Marine Group,” he said.

“Each of us on council platformed on change and moving Penticton forward and received overwhelming support. Our decision to create part of Skaha Park into a water park was based on what council felt would provide benefit for the community and align with a strategic priority of waterfront enhancement.”

Cliff Martin, who led opposition to the plan, was disappointed to learn council decided to stay the course.

“I didn’t think (the mayor) was going to listen,” said Martin, who organized Monday’s rally for the No side.

He said he had 1,400 names on a petition against the project and still hopes to present the document to council at a meeting in August.

“We’re going to have to come up with a Plan B,” said Martin, adding he will also look into the possibility of legal action to block the water slides.

Police estimated upwards of 600 people turned out Monday to rally for and against the water slides. After the groups dispersed, some from the No side disrupted council’s regularly scheduled meeting, which was restored to order after a visit from a uniformed police officer.

Jakubeit said council “took notice of citizens wanting to engage” with the city, but was “disheartened that passion, from some, took a turn sideways and impacted our formal council proceedings.

“Everyone has a right to their opinion and should feel safe to voice it and be respected for having an opinion or showing an interest. (Monday) night I felt democracy took a back seat and we didn’t have civilized or respectful dialogue.”

Jakubeit concluded his statement by noting he received on Monday alone 39 emails regarding the water park, with 27 of them in support, which he described as “an illustration of some of the feedback and comments council has been getting regarding this proposal from both traditional and non-traditional mediums.”

Trio Marine Group plans to have its water slides in operation by 2017, which will require relocating Skaha Park’s existing children’s splash pad at the company’s expense and result in the loss of some green space.

The company also plans next year to begin upgrading the Skaha Lake Marina with new boat slips, a restaurant and other amenities. Trio’s deal with the city grants taxpayers a share of its revenue, which will be used to fund the acquisition of new park land.