The Penticton marina vote

On June 19 Penticton voters will be asked whether agreed upon upgrades to the Skaha Lake marina facilities will be funded by property taxes or covered through a long term lease agreement to a yes to be selected private operator.

I believe that having a carefully selected operator who would pay for both upgrades and operations would relieve financial pressure on the City. This approach incentivizes the marina operator to succeed while allowing available City funds to be directed to maintenance and improvements elsewhere in Skaha Lake Park.

That proposal is consistent with good economic practice that distinguishes “personal goods” (and services) from “merit goods”. Marina-based services (categorized as “personal goods”) convey direct personal benefits to their clients, which are paid for through various marina and food services fees.

By contrast, Skaha Park, its greenways, beaches, sport facilities, picnic tables, and pathways, etc., and their availability to all citizens provide diverse health and well-being benefits and are supported and maintained using tax revenues. These are classed as “merit goods”.

A supportive vote outcome will help sustain those “merit benefits” which Skaha Park provides without direct cost to Penticton’s residents and visitors. Under this approach marina users fund its upgrades through their direct user fees or purchases. Commercial risks are borne by the operator.

Tax revenues would continue to fund park services which are typically non-commercial in nature.

This approach does not compromise the green spaces in Skaha Park, nor its established recreation facilities. The marina is an established commercial facility and is to be upgraded under the proposed Operating Management Agreement with provision for periodic performance reviews.

Attention to ensuring safe and respectful use of motorized vessels is a growing necessity under any finalized management agreement.

Denis O’Gorman, Penticton

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