Like the 2015 waterslide protest rallies, a rally is planned for Wednesday to protest a commercial use in parks policy. Steve Kidd/Western News

Parks protests not finished

Penticton’s city hall will be the scene of a rally April 5, protesting a park commercial use policy

It looks like city hall hasn’t seen the end of rallies over the issue of commercial activities in parks.

A rally is planned for Wednesday morning (April 5) to send a message to the committee working on the Parks and Recreation masterplan that the parks, especially Skaha Lake Park, should be free from commercial activity.

The rally is planned to start at 10:30 a.m., just before the committee meets at 11 a.m.

This is an extension of the controversy that started in the summer of 2015, when city council decided to lease a portion of Skaha Lake Park to a private developer to build a waterslide complex. Protests for and against the deal wracked the city for the next 18 months, until city hall announced a revised deal with the developer, eliminating the waterslides and protecting green space.

Opposition groups, like the Save Skaha Park Society, are questioning why the city is pushing a commercial use policy as part of the parks master plan, a subject the steering committee has struggled with.

Last week, the SSPS issued a press release to raise awareness of a what they say will be a critical discussion at the April 5 committee meeting: whether or not to include the term unencumbered in the definition of parkland.

Related: Parks an ongoing concern

“Unencumbered park land is free for everyone to use and enjoy and by definition is land that is kept for rest, respite and recreation – not commercial development,” reads the SSPS release, which also suggests a commercial use policy implies that there will eventually be more commercial activities in parks.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit defends the inclusion of a commercial use policy, saying it is an age-old question, and that one cause of the Skaha Lake Park controversy came from not having enough clarity around commercial uses in parks.

Committee meetings take place in smaller conference rooms, and seating for public observers is limited.

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