After more than two years of fighting to protect Skaha Lake Park, it’s no wonder some community members are having trouble accepting that battle is actually over and they won.
But they have. Trio Marine Group’s deal with the city is extinguished other than for the remaining portion of their lease, which runs out at the end of 2018. There is now no new concession, no possible future amenity, all that went with the cancellation of the deal.
What happens after Trio’s lease is finished is another question. The marina still needs to be refreshed, expanded and maintained into the future, so a new leaseholder will have to be found. And while city hall isn’t likely to burn their fingers again by expanding the marina lease with a development – like a hotel or a waterslide — in the park’s green space, don’t be surprised if the next request for proposals or expressions of interest includes the possibility of some sort of amenity, whether that be a new concession, or something waterborne, like the Witbit Park on Okanagan Lake.
So the battle to save Skaha Lake Park is over, but that doesn’t mean the discussion is. Concerned citizens, both for and against commercial operations in parks need to focus on items like the Parks and Recreation Masterplan and the commercial use policy it contains, which will affect what happens in all city parks, not just Skaha.
The community needs to make their desires clear: commercial operations already exist in parks, and some, like concessions, are part of the experience. But how far should that extend, and what constitutes a major operation that is disruptive to the public’s free enjoyment of their green spaces?
These are the questions we need to focus on now, not question whether the city is lying to us about the Trio deal being ended, or the possibility that this is a sneaky way to slip another large development into the park.