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Penticton starts process to revitalize waterfront

Waterfront enhancement committee members Lauren Cornish and Rod King discuss the problems with the Okanagan Lake waterfront facilities, which includes decaying retaining walls as well as aging and diseased trees. - Steve Kidd/Western News
Waterfront enhancement committee members Lauren Cornish and Rod King discuss the problems with the Okanagan Lake waterfront facilities, which includes decaying retaining walls as well as aging and diseased trees.
— image credit: Steve Kidd/Western News

Spring is the time for renewal and, judging by the work of some City of Penticton committees, it is the time for revitalization planning as well.

Hard on the heels of the Downtown Revitalization Committee’s first visioning sessions, the Waterfront Enhancement Select Committee, which also falls under the “Vibrant Penticton” banner, is inviting Penticton residents to come down to their public consultation meetings.

“By embarking on this public consultation process, what we’re hoping is that the citizens of Penticton will come out and express their comments — and put their ideas on paper and verbally, of course — to help our committee develop a master plan for that whole area,” said Rod King, chair of the waterfront enhancement committee.

The first session takes place tonight (May 2) from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. And on May 5, there will be a display set up at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to inform the public of the process ahead and how they can give their input.

The area of waterfront this committee is looking at spans the Okanagan Lake shore from the Sicamous to the Peach, which King said is showing signs of decay.

“The reality is, it was built decades ago and it’s in need of repair. We could either do it piecemeal, fix the retaining walls, fix the path, those sorts of things. Or, we could look at the whole situation,” he said. “Once we started looking, it became obvious that this is maybe the time we should be looking at an entire master plan, in terms of the roadway, the service infrastructure, the path, the trees, all of it, and just examine if there would be ways of improving it for the citizens of Penticton, make it more user friendly, those sorts of things.”

The city has budgeted $150,000 for the planning process and is expecting to spend another $2 million on the redevelopment, though they are hoping to generate about $1.2 million of that through grants from higher levels of government.

“Those dollar numbers are very preliminary. Until we find out what the citizens are thinking and get down to the planning details, those numbers are very conceptual,” said King, who added that the planning process is on an accelerated timeline. After the public consultations, they plan to take their data — along with that collected through a web-based survey — and working with staff, develop concrete ideas and plans to bring back to the public in July or August.

“We are hoping the actual working drawings will be developed over the fall and by late fall go out to tender. We are hoping that with this project, the construction will start late this year or, for sure, early next spring. We have to avoid the tourist season,” said King. “So that’s the timeline. It’s very aggressive, but I think that is a good thing. We have been talking about revitalization for years, and it has just sort of been lurching along.”

Those who cannot attend the sessions are welcome to fill out the online survey available at www.penticton.ca/waterfront. Additional information on the Vibrant Penticton waterfront projects is also available on the website.

 

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