Penticton councillor refuses to retract Skaha Park comments

Coun. Judy Sentes ended her day at city council on Oct. 18 by refusing to apologize for comments she made earlier in the day.

Coun. Judy Sentes is under fire for comments that Skaha Park supporters dominated recent public engagement sessions.

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During the Oct. 18 afternoon council session, while engagement consultant Joanne Kleb was delivering her first report, Sentes said she received phone calls from people complaining that opponents of leasing Skaha Lake Park were interfering with the public engagement sessions.

“They felt the opportunities were being sabotaged by people that were very militant about the Save Skaha Park,” said Sentes, who after asking that people respect the process and opposing opinions, again suggested the public engagement process was being interfered with.

“Your time … was being dominated by a negativity that has already been expressed,” Sentes said, addressing Kleb. “When you intend to derail the purpose that you (Kleb) are trying to foster, nobody wins.”

Nelson Meikle, who represents a group opposing the leasing of land in Skaha Lake Park for commercial purposes, asked for an apology after the evening portion of the council meeting.

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“I know the members of our group and they did not do that,” said Meikle, adding that Sentes’ comments were out of line. “We do not cause problems, we go down there and get engaged, as you want us to.”

Sentes said she was responding to phone calls from people who felt they were prohibited from speaking. Meikle responded that no one was prohibited from speaking, and questioned Sentes’ reliance on calls.

“Our group has three things only: it’s truth, transparency and proof. A phone call is not proof. I could phone you and say what I want,” said Meikle.

“If my words were offensive to you, I apologize to you, but I think the point was being made,” said Sentes, who said she observed one aggressive person during one of the sessions. “I made a comment about what was expected and that was that of respect. There were occasions cited to me where people felt there was unacceptable aggression.”