Do you support the city selecting a private operator and entering into a long-term agreement of up to 25 years in order to fund the marina improvements and provide marina services at Skaha Lake Park?
That is the question that will appear on the ballot at the city by-election in June.
During a special meeting held March 31, Penticton city council unanimously supported seeking community input on whether or not to establish a long-term agreement with a private operator of the Skaha Marina as a means to fund $1.5 million of much-needed capital improvements.
Council also committed to abide by the results of the question and to bring back the proposal to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee for review and recommendation before being presented to council for a final decision.
Coun. Judy Sentes questioned why the parks and rec committee was being consulted so many times.
“Won’t this weigh down the process?” she asked.
“Council is very aware of the high level of scrutiny concerning decisions surrounding the future of Skaha Lake Park and concerns about long-term private interest,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki. “By committing to abide by the feedback the residents give us, the community’s wishes concerning the park’s future will be heard and respected.”
Currently, the Gallaghers are operating the marina and will continue to this summer.
Should city residents vote in favour, the city will put the marina contract out to bid in the fall with the hopes they will be able to start operating in spring of 2022, said CAO Jim Bauer.
If the public votes to not have a long-term agreement to fund the marina, the city will have to look at running it or having short-term contracts with the city having to make the initial capital investments.
The benefit of having a longer-term operator of the marina is for them to put up the initial costs to improve it.
“Reinvestment is needed with a moorage replacement,” said Anthony Haddad, general manager of community services.
Private partnership is the best way to move forward, he added.
“Why private partnership is because that way we can have private investment to upgrade the marina,” said Bauer. “Why long term? For an operator to come in there and invest, they need some certainty that they can be there long term.”
Vassilaki said improvements at the marina are ‘long overdue.’
“Improvements should have taken place years ago and instead we’ve been doing Band-aid solutions,” Vassilaki said.
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