Penticton band land is important, says channel cruise operator - InfoNews

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Penticton band land is important, says channel cruise operator

FILE PHOTO - K'ul Group's Mike Campol would like to see more recognition of the Penticton Indian Band's property in assessing costs for a long term agreement of Coyote Cruise's lease in Riverside Park.
June 24, 2019 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - Mike Campol thinks Coyote Cruises will one day offer a high-quality channel experience, but the operation's unique place in the community warrants a different view from city staff.

Campol is the director of projects and partnerships with the K’ul Group, which operates Coyote Cruises. The company is looking to build on their channel float enterprise and, for the last couple of months,  has been in negotiations with the city over a 20-year lease on the 0.16 ha of land it occupies in Riverside Park.

Campol says the current license with the city doesn’t give the company the stability it needs to make a “significant investment to make the channel experience a lot more polished than it has been in the past, and make it a lot more attractive to everyone to use."

Among other things, the lease cost is based on the land’s market value and no one takes into account the value of the ‘back end’ of land used in Coyote Cruises’ business.

“The channel lands are heavily used by everyone and the band pays for the costs. This needs to be considered. We need to look at the value of all the land, but the parks process only talks about park space,” Compol says.

It’s what he calls a “clear sense of entitlement on this particular business," which uses exit points along the Penticton river channel on Penticton Indian Band land.

“The channel pathway is wholly paid for by the Penticton Indian Band. There is no longer a cost-sharing agreement between the band, the city and the regional district,” he says.

“The city sees parkland as having extreme value to go through this rigorous (parks committee ) process, but Penticton Indian Band land is an entitlement to anybody to come and go as they please, and do as they please,” Campol says.

He estimates Coyote Cruises only captures about 30 per cent of all channel users.

“Why would you pay an exorbitant fee to the City of Penticton (for a single entry point) when you are only capturing 30 per cent of all the business coming down the channel that then exits for free on band land?” he said.

Campol says his role means he has to be conscious about representing the band, calling the city parks process “a real eye-opener.”

“My thoughts have changed since my involvement in the process,” he says.

“All I keep hearing is comparison with Skaha Park, and the corrections this new parks process has made to prevent that from being developed. I can accept that when you’re talking about green space being developed, but we don’t fit into that,” he says.

We aren’t taking green space away, and we are unique because our business is dependent on the Penticton Indian band for the exit locations,” he says.

With the park process review now two thirds complete, Campol says now is the time to make his thoughts public, just as lease negotiations get underway.

“The public plays a big part in the discussion. They need to understand the value of all the land involved,”he says.

He says he has no wish to make this a battle with the city and believes Penticton and the band have an incredible opportunity to do something together to make the channel experience high quality and long term.

I’m hoping we can start having this conversation now rather than continue down the road we’re going down,” he says.

“I’m confident the city, the Penticton Indian Band and K’ul Group will get to the right place."

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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