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Penticton  

New Skaha deal goes ahead

The revised deal with Trio Marine Group to develop Skaha Lake marina will go ahead.

The decision came in a late-evening special meeting on Thursday, where council voted five to two in favour of the deal, with Campbell Watt and Tarik Sayeed dissenting.

The vote is expected to put some finality on a deal between Trio Marine Group and the City of Penticton, which saw several changes over the course of November and could have been killed Thursday night.

Nelson Meikle, a complainant in one of the two lawsuits the city is facing over the deal, hinted that he won’t be letting up on his legal fight, noting in particular the original waterslide agreement, which runs its course on Dec. 31.

“I have to do something with that date coming up,” Meikle said. “And I intend to with these people (in attendance) backing me.”

The meeting was held in a packed council chambers, where the gallery was largely in favour of killing the deal altogether and starting over, a sentiment councillor Watt echoed in the meeting.

“I’m just not comfortable enough with it to move forward. I think that we made a mistake getting to this point.”

The decision follows a special meeting last week, where council and Trio invited the public to speak their minds on the revised deal, which removed the waterslide and any encroachment on green space.

Three changes to the deal were made following that meeting, including a reduction in the size of the boathouse concession and a reduction of the exclusion zone on the beach.

Still, many people questioned why Trio failed to outline its financial plan by the October deadline, a question Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said had been answered in the previous meeting, though he ultimately divulged the answer during public question period.

In short, he said Trio could claim that complications in the process – including two lawsuits and the Penticton Indian Band expressing interest in being part of the conversation – stalled the process, which could result in a legal dispute if the city cancelled the deal on that basis.

Coun. Max Picton was the first to weigh in during the meeting, setting in motion a theme among councillors that they felt the concerns from the public over the deal had been addressed.

“Everybody on council has been looking at this very, very carefully,” he said. “I feel comfortable that this revised settlement agreement meets most of the concerns that I personally have received through email, through phone calls.”

Other councillors followed suit, including Helena Konanz, who said the city just needed to look at its history to know not to develop on park space. She also echoed Picton’s sentiment that the new deal met the public’s concerns.

“So many of these letters said please upgrade the marina,” she said. “All these things in these letters are being addressed by this new proposal. No more green space is being used. No trees are being cut. No more waterslide.”

But she also said she had heard from some people that they were afraid to attend meetings and express their interest in the Skaha Park waterslide, and the deal in general - a statement that received jeers from the gallery.

Both Andre Martin and Judy Sentes spoke to the community along Skaha Lake, who they said felt like the area was neglected by the city.

“I have heard a lot of comments about the Skaha Lake Park area thinking that they were second-class citizens,” said Sentes.

In the next steps for the deal, Trio will have to produce a marketing plan for the park by March 15, which will be approved or denied by the city on May 15.

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