FAQ offers few answers

Dear Editor:

Thank-you, City of Penticton, for recently featuring on the City website a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the combined Skaha marina and waterpark proposal, “in light of the community dialogue” on those subjects.

This bulletin emphasizes that the marina and waterslides area “will”, indeed, be leased.  Surely Council noticed that many citizens expressed major objections to the waterpark component, yet the FAQ notes only some positive “awesome idea” responses, “heard on social media.”  Perhaps the person who wrote the bulletin did not attend the public meeting and/or hasn’t been reading letters to the editor in the local newspapers.

Given citizen objections to the waterpark in the referenced “community dialogue,” why would the FAQ not present projected revenues from the marina/restaurant separately from the controversial water slides?  Community members could then assess whether the waterpark benefits will actually offset the long-term loss of parkland.

The bulletin advises that existing zoning allows for outdoor amusements such as a waterpark.  The inference is that this was Council’s rationale for not letting citizens know about it until May 19.  Presumably they hoped the waterpark deal, over a year in the making, would go unnoticed.

The next answer presented is that Council exceeded legislative requirements for notice and consultation.  Again suspicion is raised about sincerity.  Added to the list of FAQs should be “why the secrecy”?  Did they not feel some moral obligation and fiduciary duty to be transparent?  An early, open dialogue with the community on the waterpark location would have saved a lot of wasted staff time, money and energy.

The FAQ notes the marina was to “inject vibrancy into Penticton’s southern lake,” as well as to re-establish Penticton as destination, and add more amenities.  No evidence is given that a waterpark is essential to the first two.  As for adding amenities, does replacing green park space with boat trailer parking and a waterpark actually achieve this?

Revenue projections for the waterpark should also be presented to the public in the FAQ.  More importantly, the necessity for locating it on scarce civic parkland, with delayed revenue sharing to the City, isn’t established.  Besides, other potential locations exist on private land.

The FAQ bulletin has helped residents raise the above and other important questions.  Meaningful answers to these should appear in the City’s subsequent FAQ bulletins.

Denis O’Gorman