City turns garden into public parking lot

Downtown space quickly converted from past use despite staff's assurance the change would be a long time coming

With apologies to Joni Mitchell, it didn’t take Penticton long to pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

While it might not have been everyone’s idea of paradise, the educational garden built by members of the Penticton Urban Agriculture Association was an attempt on their part to create something out of nothing in a corner of an empty lot at Ellis and Nanaimo.

Today, what was an educational space, teaching people how to grow their own food and donating the produce grown there to the Soupateria and the Food Bank, is now a parking lot.

This is despite assurances in March from city hall that the city had no intention to do anything with the lot, while at the same time rejecting PUAA’s plea to extend the lease the city had given them.

The last time PUAA appeared before council, Coun. Katie Robinson asked what the future plans for the parking lot were, particularly whether it could be a lot.

“There is potential for the use of the subject parcel for a temporary parking lot, but that would have to be approved through the budget process,” said Anthony Haddad, director of planning services.

But times change, and when appropriate fill became available, the city realized it could solve two problems at the same time, with recycled asphalt from a capital works project in another area of the city.

Mayor Garry Litke said he wasn’t aware of the work being done on the property this week, but city staff were able to explain how the change in direction came about.

“We had millings, fresh, straight off the grinder and at the same time, we were having a situation where we needed to conduct weed control on the former urban agriculture site,” said Simone Blais, the city’s communications officer.

That meant, she said, that the parking lot extension came at low cost to the city, with the only charges being for a couple of days grading work.

“We have no short or long-term plans for that property, but we thought at least we can extend the parking,” said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations, explaining that they have heard complaints about the lack of parking downtown on Saturdays.

“Otherwise, it was going to sit there and grow weeds.”

The city also managed to move so quickly because PUAA was willing to vacate the property ahead of June 30, which is when their lease was due to run out.

At the city’s request, PUAA president Kathryn McCourt signed off on the lease as soon as the association had cleared out the last of their materials.

“They started in the morning and I was able to do the sign off that afternoon,” she said.

Eva Durance, one of the founders of PUAA, has other concerns about what is happening on the property.

“It is the city’s property, but what bothers me is it is very close to the creek and that recycled asphalt is porous. Presumably all that junk is going to go down into the soil,” said Durance, who has been in touch with the Ministry of Environment to find out the appropriate setback from the riparian zone around Penticton Creek.

“It is lower than the walkway.

“ It would drain into the water table or the creek, which is maybe even worse.”

Both McCourt and Durance say it is disappointing to see three years of the association’s work converted into a parking lot.

Durance points out that a rammed-earth bench, built by people taking one of their classes, was also destroyed when the lot was levelled.

McCourt agreed that is a loss, but is concerned about the larger issue that PUAA was trying to address with the educational garden.

“I am more disappointed to see that there is very little understanding of the  importance of increasing our local food security and getting more people to grow their own food,” said McCourt.

“That doesn’t seem to be on the radar at all as far as an issue of importance goes.”

 

Just Posted

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Rune on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

There was high voter turnout for the first of three advance voting days for the Penticton city by-election.
Penticton city by-election general voting day is today, June 19

737 voters on June 9 in comparison to 2018 general election, which had 1,001 on first day

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 Penticton-area men charged with Kamloops brothers’ double homicide

Brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May in Naramata

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read