There’s no question, according to Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, that the deal with Trio marine is over, barring the remaining portion of their current lease for the Skaha Marina.
Jakubeit admits to frustration getting that message across to everyone, especially since city hall is eager to move ahead with a new plan for seeing the marina revitalized.
“It is disappointing when it comes to city affairs, your neighbour is more informed or trusted than someone from city hall. That is part of the reality of municipal government in general, not just Penticton,” said Jakubeit, who said there are no plans to extend a new Expression of Interest to include a major development in the Skaha Lake Park green space.
“I don’t think anyone wants to go through another two-and-a-half years of animosity,” said Jakubeit.
In the meantime, he added, the marina never got the attention the city wanted in terms of a full makeover. He suggested that it might even be possible to have a town hall with the public to discuss the current and future status of the marina, before going to an EOI.
One of the persistent rumours, that a hotel is in the offing for the park, was not and won’t be in the cards. Jakubeit said he isn’t sure why the hotel possibility was included in the 2013 EOI document in the first place.
“That was never in the cards. I am pretty sure I can speak for the previous council if that had come back to the table … we wouldn’t have explored it,” said Jakubeit.
Jakubeit expects the commercial use policy being developed as part of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan to address these questions into the future, not just for Skaha Lake Park, but all parks and city-owned land.
“Depending on the scale and size and scope, that dictates how robust engagement has to be and how decisions get made, whether it a referendum or it is a town hall meeting,” said Jakubeit. “There is still a bit more to tweak, but that is coming around.”
For some members of the community, the concern generated by the long division over Skaha Lake Park has spilled over into the current question of expanding the city’s borders in the Upper Wiltse area, and the alternate approval process being used to gather voter assent rather than a referendum.
“I think everyone is cautious, especially when it comes to parks or adding to parks,” said Jakubeit, adding that municipal level government often brings concern over hidden agendas, leading people to have difficulty accepting things at face value.
“That’s why we are going out to see if there is a large swell of concern, and we will adjust accordingly,” said Jakubeit.
JoAnne Kleb, the city community engagement officer, said they are working on rebuilding trust with the community and making good progress.
“If you look at the process we are following for making the decisions about the arenas and parking and council’s most recent decision to get the community involved in deciding the future of the Oxbows property, we’ve got some real tangible examples of progress and a step (towards) change in the way things are done,” said Kleb.
“I believe that I have made good progress in sharing information openly and in a timely way and that over time we will see improvement.
“That trust, it took time to lose that, and it will take time to rebuild it.”