No common sense used

Dear Editor:

It’s worth looking at the way the long term lease of Skaha Lake Park came to be.

In 2013, council sent out for Expressions of Interest (EI) to lease the Skaha Marina and convert the existing building on site into a restaurant.

Council, I believe received four enquires. Only one asked to expand the lease north into the park’s green space. Staff was then directed to negotiate only with Trio. It is not known if council met with Trio prior to their to approve the lease.

In the “EI” document, council referred to bylaw 2002-42. Bylaw 2002-42 was passed by a prior council that “Dedicated” all listed city parks, Skaha Park was listed. “Dedication” of a park means that it is protected, because it belongs to the “public”.

In 2014 a bylaw was passed that increased the allowable height of structures in “City Parks”. I understand that the increased height would accommodate the proposed  waterslide?

In council’s advertisement for the Public Hearing of June 29, 2015 , they referred extensively to previous bylaw 2002-42, quote in part:

“This bylaw (2002-42) defines Public Parkland as an area of land set aside to be used by the public as a place to rest, recreation, exhibitions, agriculture, exercise, pleasure, amusement, enjoyment and any other ancillary thereto…”

“Lease uses that DO NOT fit this definition will require an amendment of the bylaw, WHICH WOULD INCLUDE the ASSENT OF THE ELECTORATE.”

Yes a REFERENDUM.

This council believed a commercial waterslide development fit the definition within 2002-42.

Section 27 of the Municipal Charter dealing with Public Parkland, was never referred to in reaching their decision.

Council approved the lease, which the mayor signed on August 4, 2015.

It is evident when you follow what was initiated by council in 2013 through to June of 2015 that this council never once considered the full “intent” within bylaw 2002-42 and Section 27 of the Municipal Charter prior to approving Trio’s lease. The Charter deals with “disposition” of Public Parkland.

Had this council considered their own printed references they should have moved  a motion to go to “REFERENDUM”?

Even if they had considered the public opposition on the evening of June 29, common sense alone should have directed them to go to referendum.

Common sense applies to about 90 per cent of the decisions that councils have to make providing it does not conflict with applicable legislation.

A referendum does not conflict, councils have the authority to call for a referendum on any issue!

Therefore common sense alone should have guided council, especially when deciding on anissue that has now divided the community.

Jake Kimberley

Penticton