The City of Penticton has put one of the civil suits opposing development in Skaha Lake behind it.
After a week of discussions between legal counsel from both sides, the Save Skaha Park Society has agreed to drop the civil suit they filed in B.C. Supreme Court in September 2015.
Read more: Skaha Lake Park battle heading to the courts
“The water park agreement was dead. Once Trio and the city signed off on it, then effectively the lawsuit ended,” said Lisa Martin, spokesperson for the society, explaining that the group’s mandate had been fulfilled.
The SSPS filed the suit after a groundswell of opposition rose against the original agreement, leasing a portion of the park to Trio Marine Group, where they planned to build a waterslide complex.
After 18 months of protest, new agreements were negotiated with Trio, taking the possibility of waterslides off the table. Those agreements were revised over the course of November, removing the possibility of commercial development in the park and reducing other factors, like the exclusion zone being granted to Trio.
“Right from the beginning, we were quite clear that our mandate was about protecting the green space in that 20 per cent of the park that was going to go to the waterslide,” said Martin.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said ending the civil suit is one step closer to healing the rift in the community and being to able to concentrate on other things that have been overshadowed by the Skaha Park controversy.
“There is probably still animosity because it took a year-and-a-half, but I think this is one step closer to moving forward,” said Jakubeit. “Now it is predominantly a marina and anything else is limited in its scope and it is going to be a very robust engagement process.”
Martin said it is a vastly different playing field from where the opposition started.
“It is fair comment to say the last 18 months have been stressful for everybody,” said Martin. “As things are now, it looks like that area has been protected, but the last 18 months have demonstrated that everyone in the city needs to be vigilant over the actions of council.”
Martin said there are no plans right now to disband the society.
“We’ve got some options going forward. Anything we do from here would likely require a new mandate at which point we would be holding a special meeting with our members to point us where to go from here,” she said.
Jakubeit had praise for the society being approachable and willing to have discussions.
“The society had a fair bit of people expressing support. It was certainly an entity we had to take notice of,” said Jakubeit. “They have always been very respectful and tried to work with the city. We have had conversations through this year, trying to come to some resolution. It took longer than anyone wanted it to.”
Nelson Meikle, who filed a second civil suit in July over the Trio agreements, has said he expects to continue with his legal action. Jakubeit said the city will try to sit down with Meikle in an effort to address his concerns and find a compromise.
“After doing that, if there is no middle ground or no stopping him, we will certainly defend our legal position as having the full authority to execute leases or have the marina improved and expanded,” said Jakubeit.