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Aqua park's wave of support

Penticton council is supportive of a proposal to bring an aqua park to Okanagan Lake this summer.

The park, suggested for near the S.S. Sicamous, was under discussion at a committee of the whole meeting, held Monday afternoon in the city.

"This is something lacking here for a long time, it's a no brainer, a family fun thing and for my grandchildren thank you very much," said Councillor John Vassilaki.

As for Mayor Garry Litke, he said, "To heck with the grandkids, I'll be playing on the darn thing."

Staff has been working with Randy Gallagher and Summerland Boat Rentals/Penticton Water Sports over the past year on a proposal to operate the park seasonally on the lake.

Operations would be from mid-June until the end of the September, with hours of operation from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. There will be lifeguards on duty  and 24 hour security staff.

The park is expected to provide employment for students. All staff would be required to have a first aid certificate. 

Additional services are a beach cabana and lounge chair rentals.

The benefits, according to Chuck Loewen, the city's general manager for recreation services, who presented the staff report, include offering a new additional attraction to promote tourism and economic benefit to the community.

The proponent, however, still has significant hurdles to deal with from the regulatory agencies. Permits and approvals were not granted in time for a chance at a 2013 operational season.

Currently, work is being done with regulatory agencies and the city to try make 2014 a reality.

But if no firm commitment from the province is provided by mid May 2014, the 2014 season will be lost as well, said Loewen.

While the council was supportive, some councillors had questions.

Councillor Wes Hopkin asked about security after hours and if the equipment comes out of the water in the winter, while Litke asked where it will be and the anticipated length of the season.

After the lease from the province is dealt with, the city council would still have to provide final approval on the project.

Gallagher said he is feeling optimistic and everyone has been really helpful to date.

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