Mixed reaction to multi-million dollar makeover plan for Skaha Lake Park in Penticton, B.C.

Click to play video: 'Mixed reaction to Skaha Lake Park revitalization plans'
Mixed reaction to Skaha Lake Park revitalization plans
Following nearly two years of discussions and public consultation, Penticton city council has approved a multi-million dollar plan for a major makeover of the east side of Skaha Lake Park. The plan calls for upgraded and new park amenities to revitalize the area, but as Shelby Thom reports, a parks protection group is objecting to some elements in the proposal. – Mar 17, 2021

There is mixed reaction from user groups of the Skaha Lake Park in Penticton, B.C., after city council endorsed a multi-million dollar revitalization plan on Tuesday.

The plan includes completing the replacement of the marina docks, renewal of the marina building, allowing for a licensed restaurant as part of the marina, and an extension of a promenade to the marina building.

The upgrades also include a new and expanded paddle boathouse, a new splash pad, reconfiguring the parking lot, naturalization of the riparian areas, and other enhancements to trails and green space.

The final plan comes after nearly two years of discussions and public consultation with stakeholders and the community at large.

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“It’s reverted back to basically an upgrade of what we have here today with some slight enhancements to make things a little bit better in the future,” said Len Robson, public works manager with the City of Penticton.

The price tag is pegged at $3.2 million.

The city said 80 per cent of people who filled out feedback forms supported the plan.

Launa Maundrell, president of the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival Society which stores equipment at the boathouse, said the park makeover is long overdue.

Click to play video: 'Penticton’s mayor calling for a fresh start after waterslide fiasco'
Penticton’s mayor calling for a fresh start after waterslide fiasco

“We’re thrilled. This has been a long time coming for us. We’ve been in operation for 21 years and this building is definitely inadequate in size and certainly wouldn’t allow for any growth,” she said.

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“We also think that this park is a diamond in the rough at the moment and the revitalization it will bring for not just this boathouse but the whole area of the parking is much needed.”

Hannah Hyland, spokesperson for the Protect Penticton Parks Society, said she remains concerned about the loss of trees due to the parking lot reconfiguration and the expanded footprint of the boathouse.

“Anything added to the park is an encumbrance, it gets in the way of people being able to use it publicly and it’s destroying the site line for many of the people that come to enjoy the park,” Hyland said.

The 2015 waterslide fiasco is still fresh on their minds — when the previous city council inked a deal for a waterslide development in the park, which sparked major protests.

The agreement with Trio Marine Group was later scrapped.

Click to play video: 'Skaha Lake marina closer to reality'
Skaha Lake marina closer to reality

“It’s bit-by-bit as buildings and businesses increase in the park, we are going to lose our green space,” Hyland added. “It was a slippery slope to begin with, in 2015 when people realized this could become a lessened park for the public.”

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Penticton mayor John Vassilaki reassured the public that no green space will be lost as a result of the revitalization plan.

“There will be absolutely no green space lost to the park, in fact, in some areas we would be adding green space to it,” he said.

City council decided not to approve liquor sales at the park concession stand, after the Protect Penticton Parks group held a rally on Sunday.

Click to play video: 'Controversy continues in Penticton over Skaha Park development'
Controversy continues in Penticton over Skaha Park development

The plan will now go through the detailed design and budgeting phase, with construction expected to begin as early as next year.

A public referendum may also be on the horizon to determine the future of the Skaha Lake Marina — if it should be leased long-term to a private operator.

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A date for the referendum has not been set.

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