Concern about the commercialization of public parkland is not a new topic in Penticton. Construction of the Burger Patio in Lakawanna Park on Lakeshore Drive, including related reconstruction of the park’s concession building, reintroduces the subject.
The immediate issue is whether the park’s two mature chestnut trees in Lakawanna’s “front yard” have been given adequate protection in the process of design and construction of the Burger Patio restaurant.
Drooping and browning leaves; root disturbance to well-within the drip line and mangled roots (see photo) would not appear to accord with sound arboriculture practices. Nor does the impromptu pruning by the construction crew. It appears that the project’s arboriculture contractors have not been allowed to play any significant role.
As the owner and guardian of the park site, has the city exercised due attention? What, if any, contractual safeguards were put in place to protect and nurture these trees?
Citizens deserve to know the plans to protect these feature trees. If the city agrees with the concern about their condition, what actions will be taken to address it?
An overarching question remains whether the city entered into a lease deal that properly considers the long-term public interest. When answering “what’s in it for the city?” and “what’s in it for the park?”
City officials, as landlord must be able to demonstrate a fair market lease rate for a property on “signature” park waterfront property as well as overall net benefits, including ensuring sustainability of key park values.
Answers to these and related questions are respectfully anticipated.
Denis O’Gorman, Penticton