Closure not an option for Skaha Marina in Penticton | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Closure not an option for Skaha Marina in Penticton

Penticton city council discussed short term plans for Skaha Lake Marina as work towards a master plan for the marina is expected to be completed later this year.
January 24, 2019 - 1:30 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton city council, aware of potential pitfalls, treaded cautiously around discussions regarding the near term future of Skaha Lake Marina earlier this week.

Mayor John Vassilaki pointed out the dangers in making a decision without “transparency” telling council he didn’t want this council to go through what previous council went through “because we’re not transparent.”

Vassilaki was referring to the controversy that erupted in 2015 when council of the day unveiled a plan to allow a long-term lease of the marina and adjacent parkland to Trio Marine Group in order to develop a waterslide park. Citizen backlash was loud and long, most of which centred on issues surrounding a lack of consultation.

At the regular council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, city staff were seeking from council a short-term course of action for the marina as Trio Marine Group’s license to use ended in 2018.

The City is looking for an interim operator while the long-term future of the marina is sorted out through completion of the Skaha Lake Master Plan, which is slated to be finished by the end of this year.

Staff presented four options to council, including:

  • Seeking a temporary operator for a three-year term
  • Seeking an operator for a two-year term
  • Not operating the marina at all
  • Inviting the community to attend and speak to the matter at the Feb. 5 council meeting

Director of development services Anthony Haddad explained the City terminated a controversial long-term lease agreement with Trio Marine in 2017, budgeting $80,000 in repairs to the marina in 2018, and identifying another $50,000 worth of ongoing repairs necessary to keep the business safe and operational over the next few years.

Haddad said any major improvements would wait until the marina’s future was mapped out in a completed master plan. The operation currently has 94 moorage slips and a wait list for 30 more boats.

Few on council had an appetite to shut the marina down with Coun. Judy Sentes saying she had "no tolerance" to allow the operation to "go dark."

Sentes also vetoed the fourth option, to allow public comment at a hearing, noting the parks master plan was the process that would provide adequate public engagement. She offered support for a three-year license to use, calling it “reasonable.”

“Anything less would be a hardship for anyone to come in and manage,” she said.

Coun. Katie Robinson agreed but felt the shorter, two-year term was more conducive to timing with completion of the master plan.

Lengthy council debate centred mostly on the merits of a two- or three-year term for the licence. Coun. Campbell Watt and Coun. Jake Kimberley expressed a desire for a three-year license in order to allow an operator adequate time to get the business running, and provide them with some flexibility and some additional incentive to operate.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield expressed an interest in a two-year lease, suggesting any momentum coming from the planning process could be lost if it was completed by year’s end.

“The marina has been and is a hot topic. We don’t want to lose momentum,” he said.

Mayor Vassilaki favoured bringing the matter to a public hearing in early February. He said he wanted to be transparent with all parts of the community, noting council discussion seemed to be centred on boaters’ needs.

Vassilaki called it council’s "only route" in order not to be accused of not listening, like the previous council.

Coun. Watt responded by saying a public consultation process was already in place, adding if council sought input on everything, there was little need for them to be elected.

“The previous council said the same thing, that they were elected to make decisions,” Vassilaki replied.

Motions to accept a three-year and a two-year license both failed. Council did eventually agree to allow a two-year lease with an option for a third year, which was carried in favour by all but the mayor.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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