A resident who’s weary of decisions made by council is organizing a protest in front of City Hall.
Cliff Martin worries that Penticton’s mayor and council are not listening to what the general public wants with public land.
“I’m totally against the use of public parks for private interest,” he said. “There should be a referendum whenever there’s a proposed change to the status of any public land,” said Martin.
The city’s agreement to lease a portion of Skaha Beach to Trio Marine Group is what prompted Martin to plan the demonstration, which came after a series of green space losses — including land near the SS Sicamous and the baseball diamond near the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
He’s inviting citizens who share his concern to assemble out front of City Hall prior to the next regular council meeting on Monday, July 20.
“What better time to do it then before a council meeting?” he said.
The demonstration will begin at 5 p.m., and Martin said he’s expecting a large turnout.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he aims to appease the majority of the community; not the loudest group.
“We’ll wait and see what transpires (out of the July 20 demonstration),” he said. “Quite often the silent majority is excited about some of the developments and change, and they aren’t very vocal. The vocal minority sometimes gets very organized and have dictated what direction councils in the past should take.”
Instead of building a permanent structure, Martin thinks the Wibit Water Park, which only occupies real estate on the surface of Lake Okanagan, is an ideal attraction for the community. He believes council was wrongfully persuaded into seeing the proposed waterpark at Skaha Marina as beneficial to the community.
“The biggest problem is with city planners who are just feeding these guys — our mayor and council have intelligence, but they’re eating up everything.”
He said council’s current roster is giving away public lands at a rate faster than he’s ever seen.
“These parks are valuable — it took us took a long time to get them all.”
But the city will be using money from the deal to promote future park acquisition. Revenues from the Skaha Marina lease agreement, as well as the city’s cut of revenue sharing from the waterpark, will be invested in future park space. That will produce “substantial numbers that will be able to help finance a park elsewhere, maybe pocket park in an area we don’t have one,” Jakubeit said, adding that maintaining parks is also very expensive. He said the city’s revenue from the lease will significantly contribute towards green space all throughout the community.
“Not just Skaha Park but all Penticton parks in general — we want to make sure that the parks we have get better utilization out of them,” he said. “Everyone agrees that parks are important, and we want to see as many green spaces and as much utilization from the community as possible.”
Jakubeit said council acts holistically when deciding upon any development, and that people’s opposition and petitions are often based on misinformation.