In front of a packed council chambers, Penticton City Council voted 5-2 to accept the settlement and enhanced marina agreements with Trio Marine Group.
Though it was unlikely anyone would have a chance to speak other than staff and councillors, Penticton city council chambers were packed full as soon as the doors were opened for a special meeting Thursday night.
At issue were the latest agreements the city proposed to sign with Trio Marine Group, eliminating the controversial waterslide agreement, but still leaving many people unsure about how the settlement and enhanced marina agreements would affect green space in Skaha Lake Park.
The public had their chance for input last week, at a meeting that drew 700 people to temporary council chambers at the Trade and Convention Centre. By the end of the meeting, it was clear the crowd was predominantly opposed, even to the new agreements.
Interim CAO Mitch Moroziuk started the meeting with three new changes have been made, starting with a proposed location for the boathouse concession, which has been reoriented. The exclusion area, giving Trio right of refusal over other amenities in a large are of the park, was reduced substantially to an area from the marina to the existing boathouse.
The possibility of a marine play structure was also removed, being replaced with a clause saying the city would not endorse an aquatic play structure until 2028.
“I feel comfortable this revised settlement agreement meets most of the concerns,” said Coun. Max Picton. “Personally, I would have liked to see a waterslide.”
Picton added that while he and others wanted to see the waterslide, they didn’t want it so badly they would divide the city over it.
Coun. Campbell Watt spoke against the agreement.
“I think we made a mistake getting to this point,” said Watt. “The best direction isn’t moving forward, it is starting again.”
Coun. Andre Martin voiced his support of the proposal, drawing groans from the audience, which intensified when Coun. Helena Konanz claimed that people were afraid to speak out in favor of the Trio proposals, and indeed were afraid to come to meetings such as this one.
“Everything has been addressed,” said Konanz, adding that she should have realized building in a park on green space would not be acceptable.
“I regret so much of it and we have everything people have been asking for in one proposal,” said Konanz.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said making a decision was a struggle.
“No one wants to see division in a community,” said Jakubeit. “I understand that a year and a half of battling city hall … it is difficult to flick a switch and move on.”
Jakubeit spoke to the city’s infrastructure deficit.
“There is more need than we have money to spend on,” said Jakubeit. “That is why partnerships are an attractive option.
Jakubeit said that concerns over Trio’s capability would be answered next May, either when the project to develop the marina got underway, or fell by the wayside, as the dates for conditions precedent started to arrive.
Many other good things happening in our city are being overshadowed by this,” said Jakubeit.
Coun. Tarik Sayeed, appearing on a monitor from a remote location, also spoke against it, especially the length of the lease, which is 29 years, with two five year extensions.
“I don’t see this as a partnership, I see it as domination,” said Coun. Tarik Sayeed. “I can’t accept this proposal as presented.”
Sayeed, along with Watt, were the only two councillors to vote against accepting the proposals.