Human chain of 900-plus surrounds waterslide area

A New Look at Skaha Lake Park More than 900 residents were photographed from a helicopter, Sunday afternoon at Skaha Lake Park, where concerned citizens created a human chain around the area that will be used for a waterslide park and miniature golf course

A New Look at Skaha Lake Park
More than 900 residents were photographed from a helicopter, Sunday afternoon at Skaha Lake Park, where concerned citizens created a human chain around the area that will be used for a waterslide park and miniature golf course

Tall people in the back, shorter people up front, the goalies can lay down.

More than 900 Penticton residents posed for a unique group photo, Sunday, forming a human chain at Skaha Lake Park.

The photo op, captured on camera and video by a helicopter high above, was organized by Save Skaha Park, a citizens’ lobby group opposed to a 29-year lease of public park space for a commercial waterslide and miniature golf.

Citizens of all ages stood shoulder-to-shoulder around the portion of the park that will be the site of the waterslides, scheduled for construction in 2017. Many seniors were in scooters and walkers.

An African drum group, The Rippers, provided percussion music as protesters patiently waited for the helicopter to fly by. There was a thunderous cheer when it flew over, on schedule, at 2:30 p.m.

“This has exceeded my expectations,” said co-organizer Lisa Martin. “We were hoping for 400 people and didn’t really know what to expect. It shows momentum hasn’t died. People are passionate about saving their park.”

Martin said two volunteers did a head count around the circle and there were somewhere between 900 and 1,000 participants plus many others who stood outside the chain and observed.

“How can they ignore this?,” she asked in reference to Penticton City Council. “There are more than 900 people here saying they want the park saved and at some point they will have to reconsider.”

Video from the event will be posted on YouTube.

No municipal politicians were in attendance but several candidates who ran unsuccessfully in 2014 participated in the rally.

Martin is uncertain what her committee’s next event will be. Thus far there have been two rallies outside City Hall and a concert in the park. They may pause for the winter months.

Martin confirmed that a lawyer who specializes in municipal law has been hired and donations for legal fees are being accepted which have ranged from $10 to $1,000.

“We meet every week and we will will now see where we go from here,” she said.

Unrelated to the Save Skaha Park group, citizen Elvena Slump has collected 2,200 names of Penticton residents on her recall petition. Slump plus several volunteers are setting up this morning outside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, site of the GoMedia conference where 120 international writers will be in attendance, from 7:30 until 9:30 a.m.

Although there are no recall laws in British Columbia, she hopes to collect 3,000 signatures to present to Premier Christy Clark. Slump’s list of concerns include the process of the 2014 municipal election.