The South Okanagan Events Centre is expected to be so busy this weekend, the City of Penticton is taking some extraordinary measures to alleviate parking pressures.
There are about 1,000 parking spaces at the SOEC, but they are expected to fill up quickly as residents, visitors from throughout the Okanagan and beyond converge on the SOEC for the first weekend of the new Cascades Casino, Fest of Ale, the Vees game, a Gun and Antique Show and the Weezer concert.
“It’s pretty exciting to see this level of activity in the off-season as a result of the SOEC complex,” said Anthony Haddad, director of development services. “It will create some pressure on our parking and transportation services so we are encouraging residents to plan ahead, allow more time and try different transportation methods.”
April 8 is expected to be the busiest day of the weekend, and the city has teamed up with BC Transit to offer a free shuttle service for that day. It runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., looping through downtown Penticton, along Lakeshore Drive and down to the SOEC before heading back to downtown along Westminster Avenue.
That forms the core of a travel guide the city prepared to make it easier for residents and visitors to plan how to get to the SOEC without bringing their car.
It lists nearby parking areas and bus routes, along with another shuttle service, offered by the Cascades Casino on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“This is one of those few weekends where we will see overlapping activities that may lead to a parking shortage,” said Haddad. “We want to give people a heads up and let them know about their travel options so they can plan ahead.”
A parking study was completed in December 2015 by Urban Systems, replacing a September 2015 version that contained factual errors, including overestimating the number of parking spots along Power Street and underestimating the number of fans attending Vees games.
The report’s conclusion remained the same though: with more than 1,000 parking spaces on site, there is sufficient parking at SOEC for the majority of the year and on occasions where a major event is taking place, there are another 1000 spaces in lots and on the streets within a five to 10 minute walk.
Bylaw officers will be out to monitor parking, as at past events, enforcing resident-only parking areas and other parking regulations.
The city is also looking for ideas and feedback on the transportation options, which can be shared at www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/parking, where a PDF copy of the guide can be found; it was also carried in the March 31 edition of the Western News.