Oh my, have we got ourselves in a mess! A large portion of Penticton residents is outraged at our mayor and Council for pressing ahead with a contract to lease out a large portion of Skaha Lake Park for a commercial waterslide despite widespread public opposition.
Though the deal was in the works for two years, Council chose not to engage in open public communication until the last minute, and at no time did they engage in a meaningful consultation with public and stakeholders that would seek constructive feedback. The fury is understandable. Park land is precious and, once sold (that’s the reality of a long-term lease) will be effectively lost to public use.
But then our mayor throws gasoline on the fire by bemoaning his ignorant populace in a press interview reported July 31, saying “Everybody is entrenched in their position….”
Yet it is our mayor and Council who are entrenched: they have the power, we, the public, have only our voice. But he goes on to really inculpate himself: “…but maybe not understanding all the facts… I wish people took a little more time to understand.”
Wait a darned minute, Mr. Mayor! You had the chance to help us understand through a process of open public engagement that should have occurred well before Council voted on this. We would have gladly taken the time to hear you explain why you think the commercial water park feature is a park enhancement, and at the same time to tell you why we think it’s wrong.
Through reasoned discussion you could have taken a reading of public opinion untainted by anger. It would have allowed you to receive information you might not have known and to revise your plans without losing face. Is it too late for a re-wind? Probably, given the temperature.
So, I suggest you look in the mirror, Mr. Jakubeit, and there you’ll find both the cause and the potential solution for this mess. Please, show some humility and reconsider your decision to press on: put the plan to a referendum; or simply scrap the waterslide. It’s up to you.
Finally, since you have promised a chance for public comment on Aug. 17, I trust you will not sign the Trio lease before that meeting. To do so would be utterly deceitful and would destroy what little confidence your public has left in you and this Council.
Dr. Gerry Karr