City administration put out a large notice in the newspaper dealing with planning your trip to a South Okanagan Events Centre complex event.
It states that there are over 1,000 parking spaces at the SOEC and another 1,000 in the surrounding lots and on the street. It also said; “Plan on parking further away from the site and enjoy a stroll to your event. The lakeshore is less than 10 minutes away.”
Let us examine these possibilities in more detail.
Parking at the SOEC: It does not specify whether the 1,000 spaces available at the SOEC includes the spaces that are being used by customers frequenting the casino, which of course are not available for SOEC events. There is no way to police whether persons frequenting the casino are using spaces that were not allocated to casino parking, so realistically we do not know how many spaces are available to the SOEC, but it would certainly be far less than specified by the city. Also, the parking situation at the SOEC will become worse if the proposal to locate two more sheets of ice there comes to fruition.
The preferred option of the Arena Planning Committee for the proposed two new sheets of ice is on an existing parking space west of the SOEC. Locating these two sheets there will require relocating Alberni Street and this will result in a loss of some parking in the two lots located on the other side of that street as well. This street relocation will apparently require constructing a roundabout at the west entry that will extend into an existing parking area on the SOEC site. The end result is a loss of many parking spaces closest to the SOEC and increased traffic frequenting the two new ice sheets.
Parking at surrounding lots and on the street: The surrounding lots and street parking are shown within a circle around the SOEC that supposedly represents a 10 minute walk used as a guide.These include Riverside Park, LocoLanding, Lakawanna Park, Lakeshore Drive and King’s Park. If you consider these locations to be surrounding the SOEC, then I guess that they are available if not already occupied for some other use. Keep in mind that the distance within the circle is as the crow flies, and unfortunately the streets are not aligned that way.
A leisurely stroll from remote parking to the SOEC. A leisurely stroll for a physically fit person in summer conditions may be enjoyable. Unfortunately, a good many events (including almost the entire hockey schedule) are held under conditions that encompass darkness, snow, wind, rain and at times slippery sidewalks and streets. Not so enjoyable or safe for seniors particularly those with mobility problems. I would have to see an independent survey by knowledgeable individuals on the parking availability and reasonable walking distance for the population serviced before I gave this city proposal much credibility.
The taxpayer has paid approximately $80 million to construct the SOEC and makes up any annual revenue shortfall. It has been well-attended and financially sound up to the present time. The incursion of the for profit casino on the site (which incidentally was done with no public consultation) has reduced the available parking for SOEC events appreciably. Why the desire to add more structures on the site further reducing the available parking and possibly adding additional traffic by their very presence, I don’t know?
When people decide that the inconvenience and cost of getting to and from an event at the SOEC outweighs the pleasure of attending, attendance will drop and the yearly tax subsidy will increase proportionately.