Rising costs force Penticton yacht club to set sail

Penticton yacht club moves into smaller facility nearby after lease costs triple

Penticton Yacht and Tennis Club commodore Vince Rabbitt

Penticton Yacht and Tennis Club commodore Vince Rabbitt

The Penticton Yacht and Tennis Club has some new digs, and while they are not far in distance from the old clubhouse, they are far indeed from what the club used to have.

In November, with the cost to lease the area escalating, the PYTC chose to move into an older building on the marina proper — formerly a garage — and negotiate with the city to give up the lease on the area containing the yacht club building and the tennis courts.

At the centre of the change is how the land, which is owned by the province, is leased. Up until last year, the waterfront parcel — covering a portion of the marina containing about 24 moorage sites, the club building and the tennis courts — was leased directly to the PYTC. That agreement, which dates back three decades, expired on Nov. 17, 2011, and the city of Penticton was granted a head lease on the area, giving them overall contractual responsibility for the area.

While the city had plans to sublet the land to the yacht club, the new price proved too steep for the group that built the facilities and improvements to the land, like the breakwater that Vince Rabbitt, the club’s commodore, said is the envy of all the yacht clubs on the lake.

“We were paying about $9,000 (a year) to the province. When the city took over it jumped to $27,000, which they just wanted to dump on us. We said we couldn’t do that,” said Rabbitt. “They really are getting a $3.5 to $4 million property free, because all this was constructed by the early sailors from the tailings of a tunnel that was put through up by the garbage dump to bring water through to the valley.”

Annette Antoniak, Penticton’s city manager, said the increase in the lease price was directly due to the province.

“They came up with an increase in the lease, there was nothing we could do about it,” said Antoniak, adding that they did manage to negotiate a 40 per cent reduction from what the province originally wanted. So, Antoniak said, they negotiated a compromise with the PYTC, with the city taking back over the clubhouse, storage and tennis area, while the yacht club moved into a building on the marina proper.

Rudy Enzmann, a board member of the PYTC and member of the negotiating team, sees the move to the marina building as beneficial. The building is more central than the old clubhouse, and recent renovations have added facilities like handicapped washrooms and showers that the clubhouse didn’t have.

The yacht club, Enzmann said, retains the income from the small dock next to the old clubhouse, which will be used to pay the $27,000 lease.

“The beauty of the deal from the city’s standpoint is the yacht club still pays that bill,” said Enzmann. “The only downside from the city’s view is they have to find a tenant for the building.”

Antoniak said that the compromise agreement has the PYTC continuing their lease through to 2016 on the marina.

“The yacht club will continue to operate until at least 2016, but in the future you will likely see the yacht club and tennis club as separate entities,” said Enzmann.

After that, Enzmann said the two parts of the club may form two new separate societies; a tennis club and a yacht club, which would continue

For the city’s part, Antoniak said plans are to do a bit of tidying up, cleaning and painting on the former PYTC clubhouse, getting it show ready so they can go out for an expression of interest to find a new occupant to take up the lease. In the long term, however, she said there has long been suggestions of expanded tourist facilities for the property.

The city is currently having a geotechnical survey of the area done, and Antoniak said they hope to soon move on to phase two, an environmental assessment of the area.

“Once we determine what the environmental comes out at, our objective is to come out with a certificate of compliance, so we can go out for expressions of interest,” she said. “I think some of the work done prior to my time saw an upgraded marina and potentially a hotel resort.”