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Parking spots in danger as Penticton spends $30k on beach vendors

75 sq. meters of existing pathway on Lakeshore Drive could accommodate existing vendors
A section on Lakeshore Drive in Penticton, where four seasonal vendors are set to relocate. (Photo- City of Penticton)

Four longtime vendors that operate seasonally near Penticton’s Okanagan Beach will be accommodated with a newly constructed area by Lakeshore Drive.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, council authorized city staff to extend 75 square metres of the existing pathway on the iconic Penticton street.

The expansion would come at a price tag of $30,000 and result in the loss of four parking spots on Lakeshore Drive.

Vendors who operated at Lakawanna Park last season will be moving across the street to the Okanagan Lake side.

“It’s been identified that the four vending sites have been causing damage to the trees and grass within the park due to the increase in concentrated use and foot traffic on the site,” said Sheri Raposo, a land administrator at the city.

That will mean all vendors will be on the Okanagan Lake side of the street, Raposo added.

The $30,000 will be taken from administrative savings throughout the year. In 2023, Penticton’s Beach Vending Program generated $25,000 in revenue, city officials said.

As part of its expansion on the Lakeshore pathway, the city will install a decorative fence to separate vehicles from foot traffic.

Coun. Amelia Boultbee asked if expansion on Lakeshore was the only way to preserve parkland at Lakawanna because the idea of a decorative fence “sounds really ugly.”

“Even though it is just one year, it seems silly to me to spend $30,000 when it’s not going to increase any revenue,” Boultbee said.

Coun. Helena Konanz, meanwhile, expressed concerns over the loss of parking on Lakeshore Drive.

“In the summer, people are always looking for a place to park there,” Konanz said.

Not everyone, however, was concerned about trading parking for vending.

“I’d much rather see people than cars there,” Coun. Campbell Watt said. “Losing these parking spots, frankly, almost makes me happy…this is an amenity, it creates an experience.”

Construction of a new area comes after Penticton had seven empty vendor spots in 2023, most of which by Skaha Beach.

Watt questioned why a new area has to be built when there are already enough empty spots to host the four vendors.

“The vendors are very particular with where they go, and these vendors have been in this location since 2009,” Raposo replied. “To move them to Skaha would be very difficult and upsetting to them.”

After city staff confirmed constructing a new vending area is crucial to protecting Lakawanna Park, council voted unanimously in favour of staff’s recommendations.

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