Protesters force Penticton city council into recess

Penticton City Council came close to having its shortest meeting ever on July 20.

A huge rally that drew hundreds of protesters to the steps of City Hall prior to the regular council meeting Monday evening. Opponents of a deal that would see a portion of Skaha Lake Park leased to private interests were in the majority, but there were a significant number supporting the plan to build a water slide complex next to the marina at the east side of the park.

Protesters shout down council after being informed that the Skaha Lake park lease would not be considered at all during the July 20 regular council meeting.
Steve Kidd/Penticton Western News

After rallying outside for 45 minutes, many of the crowd took seats in council chambers and an overflow room. As council took their own seats, they were treated them to a rousing rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

But the mood darkened when Mayor Andrew Jakubeit informed the crowd that the Skaha Lake project was not on the agenda and would not be discussed.

As the audience raised their voices in protest and question, Jakubeit tried to override them, threatening to adjourn the meeting, which drove the audience to higher levels of shouting.

Jakubeit recessed the meeting, but protesters stayed, with the faction opposing the leasing of park land milling about council chambers until RCMP Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth entered and asked them to clear the gallery.

As council reconvened, Wrigglesworth stayed on scene, informing protesters that if anyone disturbed the peace, he would escort them from city hall. Council reconvened at 6:30 p.m., making some adjustments to their agenda and cancelling a planned public hearing on another matter.

“It was disappointing that the gallery got unruly,” said Jakubeit after the meeting. He refused to say, however, whether council would reconsider their June 29 decision to enter into the long-term lease with Trio Marine Group.

“I don’t want to make any comment on, or a decision on a motion that is fueled by what took place tonight,” he said.

RCMP Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth chats with protesters in Penticton city council chambers, encouraging them to leave quietly.