After two years of the community being divided over the leasing of a portion of Skaha Lake Park, it’s hard to say whether city hall’s decision to cancel the remains of the deal is a good idea or not.
Mayor Jakubeit says it’s a chance for a fresh start, but on the other hand, the marina still needs both repair and upgrading to meet current needs — and now there is no plan for how that is going to happen.
Going forward, the mayor said the city will be guided by the new commercial use policy being developed as part of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. Having a public process laid out will prevent a repeat of what Jakubeit said was city hall’s major failing in the water slide debacle — not having enough public consultation.
There are still a couple of problems with that concept, the first being that groups like the Save Skaha Park Society aren’t enthused about a commercial use policy in the first place. Some would rather see no commercial activity in parks, and others want to limit it to temporary and small operations — something as big as a waterslide complex shouldn’t be considered.
Jakubeit is right that there wasn’t enough public consultation, but that wasn’t the primary problem. The lack of consultation was the result of the city doing its best to keep details of the waterslide lease secret over the course of two years of planning, even to the extent, according to Trio Marine Group, of requiring the developer to sign a non-disclosure agreement, preventing them from talking about their own project.
That’s the real lesson from the city’s handling of the Skaha Park waterslide lease — if you are that worried about the public rejecting a development, you probably shouldn’t be doing it anyway. At least, not without also being able to show that it is absolutely necessary.