Cold weather and blustery winds called for some changes in plans to the Heart in the Park rally on Saturday.
However, the inclement weather didn’t stop an estimated 100 people from turning out to show their support for a plan that would see a waterslide complex built in the eastern corner of Skaha Lake Park.
Organizers of the event had hoped enough people would turn out to form a giant heart, which would then be photographed from an aerial drone. The winds grounded the drone, and the plan changed to a ground level photograph, with people forming heart shapes with their hands and arms.
Miranda Tumbach, with the Support Skaha Marina Improvement group, said she felt the weather may have affected the turnout, but was still pleased with the results.
“I think it went really well, I think people came out to show support in really not great conditions and that shows there is heart for this park,” said Tumbach. Her group also had a large signboard up with names in hearts; people that said they support the rally but were unable to attend, Tumbach explained.
Her group also had a large signboard up with names in hearts; people that said they support the rally but were unable to attend, Tumbach explained. The rally was a response to a September rally by the Save Skaha Park group – opponents of the plan that gives Trio Marine Group a 29-year lease on the parkland. Their rally saw 1,000 people turn out and form a human chain around the site.
A few Save Skaha Park supporters, like Henry Kasper were also on hand to observe. He was quick to suggest the disparity in turnout between the two rallies indicated that the waterslide project didn’t enjoy strong public support.
James Palanio, a real estate professional and nearby resident, was one of the people attending the rally. He said he was disappointed more people didn’t turn out, but felt it was an important rally to show Trio Marine Group that there were people supporting the development.
“A very vocal minority should not sway their decision to proceed with this and that to council as well,” said Palanio. “I think that the no side is certainly a lot better organized.”
Palanio also felt the development in the park is important for Penticton’s future, both in terms of economic stability and growth as a tourist destination.
“It is certainly not the golden egg, it is not going to have all the answers to help Penticton thrive, but I think it will give us some direction,” he said, adding that the city had worked out a good deal with Trio. “This contract where the city has got somebody else to pay for the project and then kick us back a portion of the profits, I think is a great business model.”
Now that their group has shown support, it is just a waiting game according to Tumbach, referring to the Save Skaha Park group’s civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court against Trio Marine and the City of Penticton.