Waterslides make a splash at Penticton council

The city has found a partner to bring waterslides back to the Skaha Lake shoreline as part of a major redevelopment.

Trio Marine artist conceptual drawing of the proposed waterslide and park area near Skaha Marina.

Trio Marine artist conceptual drawing of the proposed waterslide and park area near Skaha Marina.

The city has found a partner to bring waterslides back to the Skaha Lake shoreline as part of a major redevelopment.

“This looks like a fantastic project, but really – waterslides,” Coun. Helena Konanz said with enthusiasm.

In addition to the amusement features will be the redevelopment of the docks (expanding to 100 slips) and marina, and the construction of a new upscale restaurant. Project designs also feature an upgraded parking area and new retail space.

The waterpark will offer four waterslides, features for small children, and other amenities in 10,200 square metres of space. However, it won’t be developed until the second phase.

Phase one will see the moorage slips, marina, and parking lot all enhanced.

“The marina was getting old, docks were not in good shape,” Coun. Konanz said, citing wear-and-tear, security, and the high demand for more slips.

An expression of interest was posted in 2013, and after more than a year of preparation, the concept was presented to council by Trio Marine Group during the regular meeting on May 19. Public engagement will take place until June 19 and includes open houses, local advertising and approaching neighbours.

To get an idea of how things are run, Trio has been operating the marina since the beginning of 2015, and already began upgrades to the dock.

Estimated costs for the project go as follows; $1.5 million for the new marina, retail and restaurant, $330,000 to extend parking lot, $2.2 million for the new waterpark, and $300,000 for moorage. Trio will be leasing the land for $4.20 per square metre per year, and that rate will be readjusted for inflation in 2021. The city will benefit from revenue-sharing with the marina, restaurant and waterpark at a rate contingent upon the success of the operation.

City staff went over procedures to minimize risks of development going awry, including a detailed financing plan, insurance, money held in security, and a joint-lease agreement with Trio, the city and the province. And the lease can be transferred to another party in the event of a bankruptcy.

Caution is being taken by council who recalled a large developer planning to develop condos falling into bankruptcy in the early 2000s – after tearing down a waterslide that was already in place.

“People have been talking about them ever since,” Coun. Konanz said. “Waterslides are big deal here, they were really popular.”

She said the attraction was a good employer for young people, and expects the new waterpark to offer similar opportunities.

“(May 19) we made probably one of the most exciting decisions ever since we got elected which is the waterslides,” Coun. Tarik Sayeed said.

Plans to develop the waterpark will require a new headquarters for local paddling clubs, which Trio has committed to build. Don Mulhall, race director for the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival, whose wife Laura Maundrell is the president of the Outrigger Club, said they were both approached in the early stages of planning, said they’re both looking forward to a new boathouse, and were happy with Trio’s proactive approach. Mulhall stressed that he doesn’t speak for the whole paddling community, but said that he will relay concerns in future discussions.

“We’ve only seen the artist rendering so far, none of the nuts and bolts – but I’m fully expecting them to include us in the discussion,” he said.

Based on the preliminary plan, city staff estimate that between 2016 and 2019, the marina will generate $55,706 in revenue each year, and $262,274 between 2020 and 2045. The city estimates $98, 964 in revenue from the waterpark from 2016 to 2019 (before revenue-sharing comes into effect), $369,806 for the following seven years, and $536,468 in annual revenue from 2028 to 2045.

Chuck Loewen, interim chief administrative officer, said that planning the project was largely the work of director of operations Mitch Moroziuk.

“Mitch lived and breathed this thing almost on a daily basis for the last year or so,” he said.

Upon conclusion of the month-long public consultation, council will decide how to move forward during a special meeting on June 29.