Penticton chamber still behind Skaha Park project

55bac9a04ae8c.imagePenticton’s largest business group has reaffirmed its support for Trio Marine Group’s controversial plans for Skaha Lake Park.

Jason Cox, president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, said the board first threw its support behind the $4.3-million project in June, and voted again Wednesday to remain in favour of it.

“I don’t think anyone kind of expected it to become the divisive issue it has become, so we didn’t do a formal poll or a quasi-referendum of our membership on the issue,” said Cox.

“We do actively do outreach, though, with our board phoning out to individual members and we talk about issues of the day, and there seems to be a general support among the members that were spoken to, as well as unanimous support of their elected representatives on the board for the development.”

Trio plans to upgrade the existing marina with new boat slips and a restaurant, then build water slides in Skaha Lake Park in 2017, resulting in the loss of some green space and relocation at the company’s expense of a children’s splash pad and paddling facility.

“This is not a loss of public space, it’s an enhancement of public space, much like many examples that exist in town: LocoLanding, the golf course, even the Peach on the Beach,” said Cox.

He also downplayed concerns that Trio will go broke trying to run a seasonal venture, because it will have multiple revenue streams from the marina, restaurant and water park on which to rely.

“The chamber is not out there saying that this is going to solve all the employment issues in Penticton or going to be the crown jewel that attracts thousands more tourists to the area,” Cox added, “but it is one more piece of attractive inventory that will be here for visitors and residents to enjoy and make this a more liveable city.”

Penticton city council on Wednesday also reaffirmed its support for the project, but opponents concerned about the loss of public park space have vowed to carry on with petitions and protests against the water slides.