Kelowna values parks

Dear Editor:

KELOWNA

Kelowna City Council takes the opportunity to acquire 2.9 acres of lakefront property for $12 million.

There seems to be no objection from citizens who may have thought the money could have been used for other priorities.

There are no demonstrations from citizens who may have thought a developer should have acquired the land for a much needed waterpark. There seems to be a general satisfaction that more public lakefront park space will result.

PENTICTON

A letter from City Council issued on May 17, 2013, starts the Skaha Lake Park development fiasco.

“Expressions Of Interest” are called for in the letter, to expand the leased area of 124 South Beach Drive. (This is part of Skaha Lake Park , but is not clarified as such .) The letter calls for a lease proposal for the existing marina area, stated to be 1.00 acres. The letter adds two “expansion” areas for development proposals; Area 1 being 2.4 acres to the East; Area 2 being 3.43 acres  to the north.

With this letter, Penticton City Council offered up a total of 5.83 acres of additional publicly-owned green park space, for private for-profit development.

We now know that Trio Marine Group responded to this proposal. Their plans call for the North 3.43 acres of park to be tarmac covered for what may become a waterslide park.

The east 2.4 acres will be tarmac covered for paid parking, etc. All activities within these areas will require paid admission.

Fast forward to 2015.

Public knowledge grows of the plans to allow private for profit development of 5.83 acres of Skaha Lake Park. Penticton Council signs off on the proposal despite huge opposition to it, and declines calls for a referendum.

Using the Kelowna purchase as a guide (they happily paid $4.138 million per acre); the area of Skaha Lake Park offered up for development would seem to have a value of around $24 million.

Will the people of Penticton ever see a worthwhile return on this hand over of 5.83 acres?

Probably not, probably not even close. Trio’s lease payments are based on a percentage of their revenue. The lease payments will never come close to justifying this arrangement.

The example values are just that, Skaha Lake Park is a priceless resource. There will never be an acceptable reason for destroying public park green space. Those in favor of “improving” the park with any kind of private development should realize this.

John McLeod

Penticton