Echoing the mass rallies at Penticton City Hall last summer, a local group is planning to show city council that opposition to leasing Skaha Lake park is not dying down.
A public rally is being organized for Sept. 6 at 4:45 p.m., just prior to council’s evening meeting. According to a release from Nelson Meikle, who filed a second civil claim against the city opposing the leasing of part of the park to Trio Marine Group, the rally is in response to the city’s engagement from the public.
“We believe this is our way to call for a referendum on Skaha Park and discuss in public many of the important issues facing us in the next 2.5 years dealing with this mayor and council,” the release reads.
The Sept. 6 rally is one of the outcomes of a public meeting held in Skaha Lake Park on Aug. 19, which Cliff Martin, one of the organizers, describes as a gathering to get a view on public discontent with city hall.
“It’s still strong, loud and clear that people don’t want to sell out Skaha Park. It is their park, it is not the city’s park,” said Martin. “Parks are for the people, it is their decision. It is not up to a few people at city hall who decide what they are going to do without the permission of the public.”
Martin said their group, unlike the Save Skaha Park Society, is focused on forcing a referendum, despite the fact the City of Penticton has already signed a contract with Trio Marine.
“We have a right to a referendum. That is the basic point, that they ignored our right to have a referendum,” said Martin, noting that the city is planning on spending $75,000 on an engagement consultant and more on ongoing downtown revitalization projects. “They spend money like crazy, but they don’t want to spend money for a referendum.
“They seem focused on forgetting about the public and just doing what they want.”
Martin said they had more than 400 people turn out Friday for the meeting in the park, and they are hoping to see many more at the Sept. 6 rally.
“We have to send a message to city hall. We are just showing them no, we still want our park and it is not their park to give away,” said Martin, adding that everyone is welcome at the rally. Others, he explained, are discontent with spending and other actions by city hall.
“If they want to protest that, it is up to them, but our main focus is Skaha Park. It’s a public rally, they can bring whatever sign they want,” said Martin. He adds that they aren’t trying to be divisive with the Save Skaha Park Society, which filed their civil claim opposing the deal with Trio in Sept. 2016.
The SSPS claim was put on hold earlier this year, when the city requested more time to work with the Trio on alternatives to their planned waterslide — the claim was reinstated on July 28.
“To me, I thought it was taking too long and it was a stall tactic by city hall, trying to hold things off, hoping that people would forget,” said Martin, adding that SSPS supporters are welcome at the rally.
“We welcome all sides to attend. The only side is preserving the park,” said Martin. “No matter what they say it’s our park and they are not taking it.”