The future of Skaha Lake Park has dominated much of the discussion about the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, but that is far from the only issue on the table.
Penticton residents had a chance to provide input on a draft version of the plan at a public meeting Nov. 16, and representatives from Urban Systems, the consultant developing the plan, found themselves questioned on a wide range of topics.
Marianne and Clem Beaulac wanted to look at possibilities for relocating the Lawn Bowling Club, which has made it’s home on Brunswick Street since 1935 on land owned by the city. That long-term tenure is coming to an end, though, with city plans to redevelop the land for low-cost housing.
“They’re (City of Penticton) not offering to build us a new club,” said Marianne.
Doug Cox was concerned about the Three Blind Mice area, which the Penticton and Area Cycling Association developed as an off-road cycling destination under a licence to use from the City of Penticton. Cox would rather see the area as a park.
“It was transferred from future residential to carbon offset and community forest,” said Cox, who feels that with the cyclists, it is unsafe for people on foot to enjoy the area. “If city parks were involved, we would have designated walking trails, designated biking trails, the forest cleaned up.”
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he heard from a number of people about the draft plan and aspects of park use, including soccer.
“Soccer has probably the largest membership of children and adults, it is almost 50-50 in terms of gender participation,” said Jakubeit, adding that he was asked about having an outdoor artificial turf.
“You can basically run it 12 months a year,” said Jakubeit, noting that the city’s grass fields have to be closed to use through the wetter months, to prevent damp sod from being torn up by users.
“I talked to some people about Memorial Arena, some people talked about parking,” said Jakubeit. “I think everyone who came in took time to write some comments. I thought it was a good first step to get out to the community.”
Read more: Penticton Arena Task Force to be created
Elvena Slump, a well-known critic of city hall, also attended the meeting.
“I am worried about the commercialization of parks, they haven’t addressed that yet,” said Slump. “I just don’t want to see any huge commercialization.”
The need for a policy dealing with commercial activities in parks is addressed in the draft master plan, but with few details of what it might look like. The master plan steering committee only made a motion on Nov. 3 that city staff should investigate “the timing and cost of developing a policy for commercial uses in parks.”
Slump still has reservations about how the city is dealing with issues, but approves of the new focus on communications.
“I think the city is beginning to understand that it has to reach out to people, talk to people and get their opinion,” said Slump. “I am very pleased with the way that is happening, but the crux of the matter is what they do afterwards.”