Over the next month, the public is finally going to get some answers about the future of the Skaha Marina.
Both the City of Penticton and Trio Marine have been silent about the details of a proposal they have been negotiating since Nov. 2013, which has given rise to many rumours ranging from a major hotel to a waterslide complex. The leaseholders are now ready to begin public consultations.
It turns out some of the rumours are true. According to the city council May 19 agenda, Trio is proposing to build a 110,000 square foot waterpark including a minimum of four large waterslides, a children’s slide and related facilities, to be open May 2017.
Rob Campbell, one of the partners in Trio Marine, said the partnership is not willing to comment on the proposal prior to the Tuesday evening council meeting. Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, however, said “a park enhancement at Skaha is much needed and desired.”
Rather than leasing part of a public park to a private business, Jakubeit said they are creating amenities to draw people to that area of the park, gather and be together as a family. Jakubeit also said the areas of the Skaha Lake Beach park being leased to Trio are not well-used.
“I look at it as more as really enhancing the park experience, using pieces of that park that are seldom walked upon,” said Jakubeit.
Another rumour, that the children’s splash pad in the park would be eliminated, also appears to be true. The area indicated as the waterpark lease area includes a large section of the park, extending back to the splash pad and washroom facilities, as well as taking in the boat trailer parking area and the paddle club building.
As part of the deal with the city, Trio Marine will, at their cost, design and construct a new washroom, change room and splash pad in exchange. Trio will also provide an alternate building for the paddling club.
Don Mulhall, race director for the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival, said he and his wife Laura Maundrell, president of the Outrigger Club, were first approached by Trio Marine last year about the possible changes.
While they don’t speak for the individual club members, Mulhall said Trio seemed to approach them with a good attitude, and are supportive of the annual Dragon Boat Festival — which is one of the city’s largest sporting event, and draws 2,500 athletes to the park, plus spectators.
“It’s a win-win in so many ways,” said Mulhall, noting that the restaurant planned as part of the marina development will have a clear view of the finish line. “It will be something else for my paddlers and it will be a pretty huge market for them.”
Mulhall said they don’t yet have a location for where the new clubhouse will be, but he is hoping it will be near the current location.
“The feeling was they are going to build something, probably better than what we have, in a slightly different location,” said Mulhall. “I think everyone’s goal is to make it an exciting, dynamic waterfront.”
Along with the 85-seat restaurant, the marina itself will be expanded by 100 slips and up to 1,000 sq-ft of retail space, starting in May 2016. The parking lot will be expanded to 86 stalls and the boat trailer parking area will be relocated.
Altogether, Trio Marine is projecting a $4.33 million investment in the project, on a 29-year lease with an option to rent a further 2,226 sq-m of city land for amusement or parking activities.
Instead of a straight lease, the agreement with Trio Marine includes profit-sharing, with the city taking a percentage of the profits from the restaurant, boat trailer parking and waterpark developments.
“I think that shows a good partnership with that group and some innovative thinking with the city. In the past we have given valuable city assets away for a dollar a year,” said Jakubeit. “I think if we are going to offer prime locations, we should be leveraging as much as we can for the benefit of the community.”
Penticton City council will make a final decision on the proposed agreement after receiving public comment at a special council meeting on June 29. Before that point, Trio Marine is expected to engage the public through open houses, meetings, advertising and a website.