You won’t have to pay for parking along Lakeshore Drive this summer, but don’t expect that the City of Penticton is going to give up on the idea of extending pay parking to other areas of the city.
Following a staff recommendation, city council voted 6-1 to suspend implementation of the parking strategy introduced in 2012.
City staff recommend council take four steps: consult with the community and the transportation advisory committee over the summer, suspend plans to implement commercial paid parking along Lakeshore and Riverside Drives, at Lakawanna Park and at LocoLanding. Resident-only parking should only be expanded to areas requested and plans to charge a fee for the program should be suspended until further consultation is undertaken.
Anthony Haddad, director of development services, delivered the report to council, noting that the strategy was introduced in response to growing parking pressures and concerns in the community, and that parking could be treated as an asset that can be self funded and earn revenue for the city.
However, as the implementation of paid parking along Lakeshore Drive approaches, citizens have expressed their opposition to measures to control and charge for parking.
“Based on feed back from the community, staff believe further consultation is required,” said Haddad. “While no one fix will provide an ideal fix for everyone, the system that eventually needs to be developed needs to be fair and equitable.”
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit admitted parking has been a contentious issue for years, but wasn’t backing away from the what the city sees as a need for paid parking.
“People certainly have the expectation that everything should be free. There are some myths and expectations that go along with parking,” said Jakubeit, adding that the purpose of the consultation should be to create greater community buy-in.
Coun. Andre Martin, who was the lone vote against suspending the parking policy, expressed his frustration.
“We tried to implement it, based on the fact that it had been around for four or five years and people knew about it. Once we get a little objection to it, then we want to back off,” said Martin.
Parks and beaches cost money to maintain, he continued, just like swimming pools, which the city charges for.
“I don’t see parking as any different than that, as a way of recouping some of the costs to keep the grass green,” said Martin. “I’ll support the staff motion, but when we come back in September, I am going to challenge all of our council here to make a decision and really go with it. It has been enough, it’s been five years. It is time we move on with it.”
Coun. Judy Sentes thought council underestimated the community’s opposition to expanded paid parking.
“They feel they have not been engaged,” said Sentes, adding that it would be wise to engage citizens. “I will be far more comfortable going forward when we have received that information.“