Save the green space at Skaha

I attended an information session on the commercial development plan for Skaha Park sponsored by the Trio Marine Group.

I have also read the marketing plan and the marine development agreement (council report, May 19). If this development goes ahead, it means dramatic changes to Skaha Park that the citizens of Penticton should be aware of and given the chance to approve.

One of my concerns is while this a major project affecting all citizens, there has been little attention. While the Trio have met with so-called stakeholders: they have had only two information sessions with the general public, market day and at the Seniors Centre. The people seem to be unaware of the scale of the project or its implications, and when I talk with people they don’t entirely approve of this development.

City of Penticton has spent millions of dollars developing Skaha Park. Their efforts have resulted in a splendid public area with beautiful lawns, tall shade trees and open vistas; a green space with relaxing promenades and public areas with recreational activities unlike anything else in the city. Now a large area of green space (approximately 25 per cent of total area, excluding the beach and parking lots) is going to be turned over to commercial developers (29-plus year lease) to develop a water slide, mini-golf course and renovated marina. The footprint of this development takes over a heavily used section from the northeast parking lot to the beach that contains a splash pad and picnic tables and is close to the children’s playground. A chain-link fence will surround this area. Why is such a large area of the park being turned over to developers, only for three-month use? Once this green-space is gone, it will be gone forever.

Paddle sports are a growing activity (seven-month season). Boats are stored in a shed near the beach. While this shed is to be replaced, it will be moved further down the beach away (70 metres) from the launching area and across from a wide section of beach. The placement doesn’t appear to be convenient to moving boats in and out of the water or accessing the present boat-launch road. The placement of the boathouse should have higher priority than the footprint of a waterslide. Remember that events surrounding these sports bring thousands of people to the city.

Despite the increase in tourist attendance there is little change in the parking lot area. Will parking spill into the residential area? The plan allows for a beer and wine off-sale outlet. Considering that this is a family beach and policing is expensive, this is a surprising allowance.

I hope this letter and petition (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-our-green-space-in-skaha-park) will generate discussion of an important change coming to one of our well-loved parks. The proposal will be discussed at council meeting, on June 29.

Harvey Quamme

Penticton