Save Skaha Park group retains lawyer

Rather than fading away, opponents of leasing out part of Skaha Lake Park are getting more organized as time goes on.

According to Lisa Martin of Save Skaha Park, the group has now retained a lawyer specializing in municipal law to examine whether there is a case to be made over the city’s actions in leasing the eastern end of the park to Trio Marine Group.

“What he is doing is examining all the information we have taken to him. We will know basically where we go within the next month or so,” said Martin, who also said the lawyer had asked them not to speak about any details.

One aspect of the case the lawyer is sure to be looking into is former mayor Jake Kimberley’s allegation that the 29-year lease agreement with Trio Marine was equivalent to selling the land, and so, should have triggered a referendum.

“The public will no longer have the absolute use of the land,” said Kimberly, adding that the development will take away access that visitors and residents have had for over 30 years.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the city retains ownership of the parkland, community assent is not required. They have also, he added, gotten legal advice.

“We had two legal representations,” said Jakubeit, at the Aug. 17 regular council meeting.

The lawyer is being paid for out of a donations account set up by the Save Skaha Park group at the end of August. Martin wouldn’t say how much they have collected so far.

“I can’t tell you the amount. It is both humbling and heartening. The range of donations we’ve had has been everywhere from $10 up to over $1,000,” said Martin. “Every day that account is growing. That and the petitions are the most tangible evidence we have  of the support we have in the city and its increasing.”

Martin said the petition now includes signatures from 4,000 local residents and over 1,600 non-residents. Save Skaha Park has also set up a weekend event for people to come and enjoy the park.

“It’s not going to be a political event,” said Martin. “We have some great local entertainers lined up and we have a comic coming in from Vancouver, who is going to be emceeing it.

“We want it to be a fun and upbeat afternoon, just an afternoon of music under the trees and celebrate Skaha Park.”

Four sets of musicians are performing at the event, including Destiny, a local husband and wife team of musicians, Allan “Dr. Eclectic” Markin, Gord McLaren and Nola York, who hails from London. Comedian Brett Martin will be the emcee.

“Nobody has charged anything, everybody is donating their time,” said Martin. “And of course, there is no admission to this. We are asking people to bring a chair or bring a blanket and just sit down  and enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment.”

The event will take place on Sept. 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Rotary Centennial Pavilion. More information about the group’s efforts can be found on Facebook at Save-Skaha-Park. The City of Penticton has set up an FAQ about the Trio Marine project at http://tinyurl.com/skahaparkfaq.