I’m writing to express my concerns about keeping Skaha Lake Park a green, public space.
I have raced dragon boats here for years, and have enjoyed very much the wide open public spaces alongside the lovely waters of Skaha Lake. Thousands of people come from all over to race in Penticton every September, providing a huge economic boost. My team (26 people) stayed in a motel for three nights, bought lots of food and had restaurant meals, paid for a wine tour and purchased more than 200 bottles of wine to take home with us. Skaha Lake Park, with its excellent amenities, space for vendors, team tents and the beer garden, is why we go to Penticton to race.
I live in Vancouver, and I would like to share my experiences in Vancouver and on Salt Spring Island.
My husband grew up on SSI and still has family there so I have been visiting SSI for 28 years. During my first visits I fell in love with SSI and told my husband “we need to buy a place here, we need to retire here.” It seemed idyllic to me. Lovely green farms, mountains, the ocean, quaint markets, artisans, some nice restaurants — it was heaven. But I quickly realized there is almost no public land.
I love to walk and my only options to walk are along the very busy main roads or along narrow roads between the homes and farms. Cycling, another love of mine, is very dangerous on SSI. The roads are too narrow and the locals seem to hate cyclists. Lastly, there is almost nowhere to walk along the ocean, other than one park which is a fairly long drive from my sister-in-law’s home. It seems that almost all of SSI, including the beach front, is private land or is developed and is inaccessible to me. I have come to detest SSI and rarely visit it any more.
I love Vancouver. I live a 17 minute walk (yes, I’ve timed it) from Granville Island. For decades, in all seasons, and all weather, I have walked or cycled for miles along False Creek, English Bay, around Stanley Park, Locarno to Spanish Banks, around UBC and alongside or in the UBC Endowment Lands. I have enjoyed so many public events at all of these places: sports events, fireworks, music, kite flying exhibitions, Canada Day celebrations, many other events. My newest favourite thing is to cycle the brand-new Arbutus Greenway from one end to the other. I, and countless other Vancouverites and visitors to Vancouver, enjoy private events in all of these places too — intimate picnics, family gatherings, weddings, impromptu frisbee games, bird watching — the options are limitless.
I love Vancouver’s huge tracts of public land, the seawalls and the parks, and I am forever grateful the city’s founders preserved so much public space. I am very grateful that our current administration continues to preserve and create new public space. I love Vancouver, it sets a great example that SSI and Penticton should emulate.
I urge the administration of Penticton to preserve and cherish Skaha Lake Park.