It’s going to cost the City of Penticton $40,000 to get the out of the current agreement it has with the Trio Marine Group to lease a portion of Skaha Lake Park.
According to the proposed settlement agreement, the city and Trio will terminate all obligations under the existing marina and water park development agreements in favour of an enhanced marina agreement. To get to that stage, the city is offering to pay Trio $20,000 in relation to the company’s claims, and $20,000 more for safety-related repairs Trio already made to the marina.
The city is also agreeing to forego $38,601 in rent and property taxes payable under the current agreement.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit admitted the issue of leasing a portion of Skaha Lake Park has been one that divided the community. Experience brings good decisions, he said, but often attaining experience comes from making bad decisions.
“I won’t go as far as to say that a waterslide was a bad decision, however, the process we chose to engage the community was,” said Jakubeit. “If we followed a better process, it might have dictated a different outcome.”
The second proposal, the Enhanced Marina Agreement, offers Trio three benefits, starting with a 29-year seasonal license to operate the Skaha Lake East concession, to begin in January 2018. According to CAO Mitch Moroziuk, the current lease, held by Jenine Nicholas, expires in 2017. Also starting in January, the city and Trio will jointly develop a proposal for an in-lake aquatic play structure to be located on the foreshore of Skaha Lake park. Moroziuk said the city will conduct public consultation regarding the play structure and if that process doesn’t support it, the city will be under no obligation to Trio.
“These agreements will protect green space in Skaha park as demanded by the Save Skaha Park Society and some other community members and require full public consultations before any future for profit amenities in Skaha Lake or on the foreshore of Skaha Lake are considered,” reads the report in one part, though another part outlines possible commercial development of the same area where the waterslide was planned, giving Trio an option of future developments in that area.
Starting April 1, 2019, the city will conduct a public consultation in for the revitalization of Skaha Lake Park, focusing on that treed area of the park, minus the existing splashpad. According to the staff report, the goal is to develop a park concept “that in the city’s discretion best balances the interests of revitalization of Skaha Park and the expressed desires and concerns of the citizens.” When that is complete, Trio will be offered and exclusive request for proposal to construct and operate any revenue generating amenities or facilities.
”We will find out in the near future, as this goes along that the public has no appetite for this scale of development in Skaha or any other park. If we have a concern, it is about where this leads,” said Gary Denton, a member of the SSPS and the Parks and Rec. master plan steering committee.
Jakubeit referred to work being done on the master plan for how public engagement gets validated.
“Everyone in the community, most certainly council, learned a lesson from the last year and a half,” said Jakubeit. “That is the intention coming out of the Parks and Rec master plan is to solve those decades old concerns or questions in the community about what is allowed in a park and what mechanisms we have to gauge public interest.”
Lisa Martin, spokesperson for the SSPS, was cautious about the report.
“We are pleased that the waterslide is off the table but obviously come concerns with the concession stand,” she said. “There is still a lot of information to go through. Right now, we are going to be keeping our focus more on the parks masterplan because that is hopefully where some future laws will come up so we are never in this situation again. We want a clear definition about what can and can’t be commercially developed in a park.”
“The city and Trio are aware and sensitive to the amount of public opposition to the proposed development,” said Moroziuk, noting that there are two civil claims opposing the development, one by the Save Skaha Park Society and another by Nelson Meikle.
Meikle insisted the city’s plan to consult with the public at a special meeting next week didn’t allow enough time for the public to digest the 12-page report.
“Give us until at least until Dec. 6 before you have the convention centre hearings,” said Meikle. “Be reasonable, that is all we are asking.”
Read more: Skaha Park battle continues
Jakubeit repeated a comment he made earlier, that if public apprehension continues, council will delay its decision.
“If the public still needs time, we will adjust our schedule,” said Jakubeit.
Moroziuk said the agreements represent the best deal that staff and legal counsel were able to get with Trio.
”We were still working on these agreements on Sunday night,” said Moroziuk, explaining that the city has been in intensive negotiations with Trio since the beginning of October.
The City of Penticton will host an information session the week of Nov. 6 to answer questions and hear comments from the public. Council will then return on Nov. 15 to vote on the matter.
Read more: Penticton releasing waterslide update