PENTICTON - Penticton mayor and council received an earful in council chambers last night as those opposed to the proposed waterpark development at Skaha Park addressed council once more.
A deal was signed earlier in the month for redevelopment of the Skaha Marina area, but council agreed to hear, once more, from those opposed to the plans at yesterday’s council meeting, Monday, Aug. 17.
Three presenters were liberal in their criticism of council’s decision to sign a deal with private partners Trio Marine Group to redevelop the park in a two-phase plan that would have a restaurant established and improvements to the marina in the first phase, and the development of a waterpark in the second.
Former mayor Jake Kimberly was perhaps most scathing in his indictment of council over the issue.
“The analogy to council’s decision — and I love analogies, because it puts it sort of in a nutshell as to where you’re at — council’s dealings with Trio is like someone signing an agreement to buy a person’s house, and then saying to the owner, ‘I’ll go to the bank and see if I can get the money to pay for it,’” Kimberly said, "But guess what? Don’t forget you’ve signed the agreement, and now I’m the official owner of that property. That’s what you’ve done.”
Calling the deal ludicrous, Kimberly said he came to council to express his concerns about the way this council was proceeding.
“Think things through before you jump into deep waters,” he chided, “This is going to cost you, this decision is going to haunt the rest of you for the rest of this term. You will not be trusted by the electorate. That is the worst thing you can have in your next three years of office."
He said in the 50 years he’s worked and lived in the city, he’s never seen a division in the community like he’d seen in the last few weeks.
“If you can’t conduct the business of city hall to look after the interests of those who live here, guess what? No matter what the chamber says, nobody is going to come and live here because they cannot trust the decisions of council and the democratic decisions of council,” Kimberly concluded to rousing applause from the largely 50 year old plus gallery.
Kimberly posed a number of questions to council, most of which involved the seeking of independent opinion over a number of aspects of the deal with Trio. He said there should have been an independent audit of the project, an environmental site assessment and whether waterslides were even a permitted use.
“That is extremely important, because if there is contamination in the soil, somebody has to pay to clean it up. Did you do a risk assessment of possible damage to that high pressure gas line? Because I can assure you, if there is any trembling or disturbance of that gas line which is a very high pressure gas line, it will destroy the whole park. Period,” Kimberly said, adding he’d met with gas officials after installing the line years ago and was told not to go near it.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit thanked the group for stepping forward, noting their passion for the issue. He expressed appreciation for the more civil presentation made at the second rally on Aug. 4.
Jakubeit said council would look at a notice of motion to deal with some of the elements raised in tonight’s discussion, adding council would take some of the comments made into consideration.
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