Privatizing parks in Penticton

Having adopted Penticton as my “Place to Stay Forever” for 50 years of my life I don’t want to see the beautiful Skaha Park destroyed for the sake of the almighty dollar.

I use the term “privatization” of Skaha Park because the lease not only allows the private commercial use of the Park, it also allows the leasee complete control of the total Skaha beach for vendors, for the next five-years.  Vendors like what we have now on Okanagan Lake beach. It is my believe that agreement will be changed to the whole 30 years of the lease. Do you think if Trio were successful with their 30-year lease on the waterslide, council would cancel that part of the agreement only allowing five years?

This council promotes that they have adopted a business approach in all their decisions in city hall in trying to increase the city’s finances and economic growth. Leasing of publicly owned property that taxpayers have paid for since this city was incorporated over one hundred years ago is not the way to do it.  There is absolutely no guarantee that this council can provide that this 30-year lease will boost the city’s finances or its economy. It’s a total gamble.

All those campaigning against this councils decision cry out, “shame on you” for completely ignoring  the unprecedented “opposition” on the evening of June 29th. “Shame on you council” for completely ignoring the unprecedented rally by city residents to protest your decision not once but twice on Main St.

“Shame on you” for ignoring the thousands of residents of the city who signed the petition appealing for the right to vote in a referendum.

Granted we voted you in with the responsibility to run the city, but we did not elect you to ignore the democratic right of your employers. We the taxpayers who deserve the right and are willing to pay to vote on one of the most controversial decisions any past councils has ever made!

On behalf of all those opposed, I appeal to members of council to have the courage to put forward a simple motion to cancel this lease.

Suggested motion, “I move council rescind the decision of June 29,2015 to lease public property in Skaha Park and that the city reimburse legitimate costs expended by the lessee to date”. A motion to rescind requires two thirds of members of council to vote in favour of the motion.

To rescind would mean the city would have to provide compensation to Trio, but we don’t know what that cost would be. I believe if it is possible that this motion could be passed, it would save the taxpayers money that this council will now spend to fight a legitimate legal challenge put in front of them by city residents. Residents who are so strongly opposed to the “privatization” of Skaha Park and beach they are willing to donate and have donated, their personal income and savings to legally challenge this councils decision.

Our taxes our paid for services, and maintenance of our city, that’s the number one responsibility we gave you as our, employees! We did not vote you in to spend tax dollars on a costly legal challenge to justify your controversial and irresponsible decision.

In closing, thanks to all the residents to date who have dug into their pockets and donated their dollars to have the “privatization” of our beautiful Skaha Park overturned by the courts.  Hopefully council will recognize our rights to protest. Donations to the legal challenge can be made to the “Save Skaha Park” account at any Valley First Credit Union.

Jake Kimberley

Penticton