Multiple parking needs a challenge for Penticton’s parking strategy

City staff were out walking the streets to gauge the public’s concerns on parking on Wednesday

The issue of paid parking along Lakeshore Drive continues to be on the top of people’s minds, according to City of Penticton development services director Anthony Haddad, who hit the streets to talk parking issues with residents.

Haddad, joined by engagement officer JoAnne Kleb, were along the Okanagan Lake beach and downtown on Wednesday to hear what residents consider to be the major issues surrounding parking in those areas.

“Two very different areas. Downtown, obviously, (is) dealing with a number of different pressures in a number of different manners. We have an extremely vibrant downtown because we have a number of different things that happen in the downtown core,” Haddad said.

“I think one of the issues around Lakeshore Drive is around paid parking and the community’s desire for paid parking or not along Lakeshore Drive.”

On that note, one man along the lakeshore told the Western News that he’s in favour of installing parking meters along Lakeshore Drive.

“Every morning at five o’clock, they run down here with rakes and they manicure the beach … the amount of maintenance on this is incredible,” said Doc Holloway. “I think the people that use the beach should be paying a reasonable fee to park here. I’m don’t see $5 or anything stupid like that, but $1.50 an hour to park here would be great.”

That, he acknowledged, may not be a popular opinion, but he said that way the users would pay for use of the beach, rather than the taxpayers footing the bill.

“We had some beautiful beaches, and I’m sure they’re going to be better when the water goes down, but I don’t really think that the people should just get to park down here all day and enjoy it for nothing.”

Holloway pointed to other cities, like Kelowna, where parking at beaches comes with a cost.

But another man on the lakeshore had another idea for how best to deal with heavy usage of lake front parking.

“I think that it should be for a limited time, and just for day use. That’s it, no camping,” said Henry Boas, who added that he wouldn’t be entirely opposed to metered parking on the beach.

“It would help with the maintenance of the place and everything else. If they start charging for the parking, then they’re going to have to start maintaining it better.”

While the lakeshore has some differing opinions between business owners who would like to see more turnover in parking and residents, Haddad said the downtown area has even more variety in parking needs.

“You’ve got people that want to come down and be there for five minutes to run a quick errand, you’ve got people that want to come down for an hour and have a coffee. You’ve got people that want to come down for two hours and three hours to maybe get their hair cut, and then you’ve got people that work downtown that need to have a parking space for the entire day,” Haddad said.

“So, there’s a variety of needs, which I think continuously cause some areas of conflict that it’s a responsibility of the city to try to deal with and listen to some of the concerns that come up.”

On top of engaging people on the streets, Haddad said the city is talking to downtown businesses and to those who live in the downtown’s periphery to try to find a solution that best fits everyone.

“It’s just a matter of looking at which user groups need to be prioritized and what different systems we need to look at putting in place in the downtown.”

The pair were also in the area to push some surveys posted on the city’s engagement website, intended to gauge residents’ thoughts on various aspects of parking, including the downtown area, the lakeshore and resident-only parking.

“Which will really provide us some good information, improve the amount of facts we have around the parking situation and really get a flavour for what the community’s desire is around parking along the lakeshore and then downtown,” Haddad said.

Residents have two weeks to put in their ideas for improving parking in the city, with those surveys up on the engagement website until June 30.

While much of the focus is on downtown and lakefront parking, the surveys will also take a look at resident-only parking in spots like the areas surrounding the hospital.

Residents will also get a chance to meet with city staff at the library on June 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. and at the community market between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on June 24.