When downtown Penticton’s Main Street gets its upcoming makeover, it will look considerably different from the work done on Martin Street last year.
There will be similarities, including wider sidewalks and paving stones replacing the concrete sidewalks. But the design maintains standard parallel parking, separated from the sidewalks, rather than the flex parking and moveable bollard system on the upgraded section of Martin Street.
“The parking will be permanent parking with a curb. The sidewalk gets wider and there is what we are calling a storefront area, adjacent to the front of the building that is available to the merchants and then the sidewalk is in front of that,” said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for the City of Penticton.
Some merchants along Martin Street say that while the upgrades have improved the look of the street, the bollards (upright posts separating pedestrian and parking areas) are not functional and require additional maintenance from the city. The design was implemented to allow merchants to utilize a larger portion of the sidewalk in front of their store by moving the bollards to block the parking area.
“The problem is that when they back in, people back right into these posts,” said Duane Jordan, owner of The Pasta Factory and Tug’s Tap House. “You can pretty much walk down here every day and there are two or three posts tilted.”
To fix the tilted posts, Jordan said city workers come out, remove the pavers around them, reset the foundation for the post and reset the pavers. Jordan added that even after parking, some drivers end up finding their door blocked by a post when they open it.
“It’s a wonderful idea, but it’s just not functional,” said Jordan, who would like to see the pavers taken up in the parking area and restored to asphalt.
Kirby Layng of City Centre Health and Fitness agrees the bollards are a problem, and adds that the lack of delineated parking is confusing for people. Without lines, he said, drivers end up blocking what would be space for two cars.
“The bollards are a big pain, and the other thing is that there are no parking lines. The lines just make it so people know where to park, they need that guidance,” said Layng adding that the bollard next to their parking lot has been backed over eight or 10 times.
“And that is just that one. They are coming by and repairing them all the time.”
Moroziuk said the city is not looking at any major changes to Martin Street, and the cost of maintaining the bollards is not excessive.
“We have no intention of changing that at this point in time. We have made some changes in terms of the number of bollards that are there. We have reduced them and we have also addressed some of the entrances where we have driveways coming in,” said Moroziuk. “We have to come out there and reset them every once in a while because people back into them, but that is something that people just have to be aware of what is around their vehicle when they are maneuvering or parking.”
Moroziuk said city crews are probably doing some form of maintenance once every couple of weeks, for a total of about four to six hours a month.
“The estimated annual cost of doing the work is about $2,600 a year,” said Moroziuk, who described the bollard system as kind of a trade off.
“If they want the ability to expand the space and move it around, you have to have some way of separating cars from the people,” he said. “In the grand scheme of our total maintenance it is not a huge amount. Ideally it would be nice if nobody hit those things and we didn’t have to reset them.”
Both Jordan and Layng agree the work done on Martin Street was positive overall. Jordan said they were having water breaks that would shut down business which has disappeared since the infrastructure was dealt with at the same time as the beautification.
Layng noted he has customers come in and remark it is a nice street.
“The infrastructure had to be upgraded anyhow, so if you are going to tear up the street, you might as well make the sidewalks a little bit wider and so on. We are pretty happy with the way things went, said Layng.