This letter is in response to Joe McLeod (Penticton Western News, Nov. 8, Part of the silent majority) who says he is in the silent majority of people who want to give Trio control of Skaha Park for profit.
First of all, I was pleased to read that you were interested in the affairs of the city and actually voted.
You have lived almost as long as the city’s contract with Trio (29 years plus 10 optional). For the next 39 years you will be paying to park in Skaha if you decide to spend time there. It is my opinion that the many present trees will be gone, the green space reduced considerably, the walkway will be controlled by Trio and a hotel or condos will be built as other developers will insist on fair treatment.
Because you have not lived here very long you may not be aware of the history of parks in Penticton. I will only go back to the years I have lived here. Soon after I moved to the beautiful Okanagan the mayor and council decided that Okanagan park next to Lakeside hotel was derelict and attracted drug dealers and undesirable activities. They decided to clean up the area and build hotels. Fortunately a group of residents decided this park should remain as parkland. The decision was resolved in the Supreme Court and we now have Okanagan Lake Park — used often by our citizens and families to play or picnic or enjoy the many festivals that occur in the summer. The groups that saved Okanagan Park were our heroes.
Fast forward to 2016 where we are embroiled in another grab for a park. This time we’re battling city council who don’t seem to be aware or care about the history of Skaha Park.
For many years the goal of the city was to expand Skaha and purchase all the houses on the south side of Elm Street. As people moved, the city purchased their properties. But a developer decided he would buy two of the houses slated for parkland and planned to put a private business there. Fortunately the city council of the day expropriated one of the houses and purchased the other with conditions. Along with precious house purchases, the cost was several millions, but I don’t remember the taxpayers complaining. Skaha Park was saved.
As you know, lakefront property is very valuable and very expensive. Where would we find parkland as beautiful as Skaha Park? Even the city admits buying parkland is expensive yet they are insisting on giving it away for 39 years or more. Would Vancouver sell pieces of Stanley Park? Would New York sell Central Park? Would Kelowna sell City Park? Recently Skaha Park was named one of the 10 best parks in Canada. Do you think it would make the list with all the Trio “improvements?”
As you get older, maybe you’ll realize that money isn’t everything. Quality of life is most important. That’s what Save Skaha Park Society is all about. Have a good life in Penticton, Joe. I hope you learn to enjoy the natural beauty of our parks.