Our parks will never be for sale

Dear Editor:

The chances of a commercially successful water park operation at Skaha Lake Park are slim to nil.

To be viable and profitable a water park must be situated next to a busy highway and in a highly-visible, easily-accessible location. The park must be big enough to accommodate a variety of exciting slides and wave pools that will attract youth of all ages. The operators must be willing to invest in future attractions that will keep customers coming back and attract new ones.

The water park proposal at Skaha is a smoke screen for more lucrative plans down the road. The real prize for Trio Marine is the long-term lease which explains why they have persisted with their plans in spite of

massive public opposition. It is highly doubtful that Trio will find investors willing to invest $2.2 million in a very risky water park proposition.

Trio has until May 15th, 2017 to come up with the lenders’ loan commitment. Trio will inform the city they have been unable to secure funding for the water park.  However, having secured a hotel partner, Trio will pitch the city with a new plan to construct a hotel on the site (maybe even include a casino to sweeten the deal).

On Sept. 16, 2014 the Penticton Herald published an article on the proposed major upgrades to Skaha Marina. Mitch Moroziuk, the city’s operations manager offered the following: “the types of development that could meet this vision include: HOTEL, restaurant, retail, marina, sports entertainment or recreation”.

Clearly the City is willing to entertain a wide variety of uses on the property in question. Bottom line, the administration is looking at all possibilities that would generate income to the city and profit to developers with the blessing of our elected officials.

In the end it’s all about money. Shame on mayor and council who are willing to place the almighty dollar above all other considerations. Over the summer thousands of citizens have expressed their disapproval of the water park project. Thousands have signed petitions asking for a referendum. Our newspaper editors, former mayors and councillors, neighbours and visitors are all for a referendum.

Mayor and council had an opportunity to respect democracy with a referendum but chose to not to do so. The signing of the lease agreement on Aug. 4 effectively shut the door on that option.

We must send a clear message to developers, mayor and councillors and the Chamber of Commerce “our parks are not for sale – not now, not ever.”

Gerry Gilligan