Our current city council, the Done Deal Gang, has struck again, most recently in Skaha Park.
They’re apparently encouraged by their recent “success” with their proposed conversion of a ballpark to a hotel … er, convention centre … er, casino project.
At Skaha Park we witness a welcome upgrade to the marina operation. But on May 19, a private waterpark proposal by the marina operator was publicly revealed after many months of behind the scenes deal-making.
The pattern is becoming one of late public notice, a hastily convened public meeting, and provision of inadequate prior information, followed by alleged approval by the silent majority.
The leaps of logic are Olympian, such as claiming the waterpark is essential to attract and retain young families and critical to Penticton’s economic future (sure just like the prison). If a waterpark is that critical, surely other locations on vacant private land are viable. Plus, those locations present a win/win option: citizens and visitors retain scarce parkland, we get a waterslide and a vacant site is developed.
Our elected officials seem to miss the point that public parkland, especially with waterfront, is an attraction in itself. Go to the beach and check! Plus, public amenity (coupled with good municipal services) is a recognized attribute of successful communities.
Council apparently believes that those opposed to the waterpark are against families and young people. Really? Consider also the bold, unproven assertions by the mayor, and councillors Konanz and Sentes that the silent majority are the “positive” people who speak privately with them and favour a private sector waterpark on already scarce parkland. Also, late notice, presenting no options, policy driven by perceptions, weak questioning, and cavalier dismissal of formal public input, suggest a serious democratic deficit.
Please understand the so-called “vocal minority” are not against young people, fun or economic success. We are against squandering public parkland, backroom deals, late public involvement, disguised subsidies and ignoring of reasoned input.
Given the citizen reaction, council should drop both the proposed waterslide and wine/beer sales outlet proposed for Skaha Park.
And yes, council can also commence meaningful public consultations on the Power Street hotel/South Okanagan Events Centre campus operations/casino concept, including something better than last minute revelation of new information at a formal public meeting.