Neighbours of an empty lot want the City of Penticton to put some stiff restrictions on its use before they let the owner turn it into a parking lot for the third summer in a row.
Owners of the lot at 1102 Burnaby Ave. were first issued a temporary use permit in 2011, so they could use the land as a pay parking lot for visitors tubing down the nearby channel. But after hearing concerns of neighbours, council added a list of conditions for the owners to meet before they get a permit for 2013.
Bob Morrison, owner of Park Royal RV park across the street, is in favour of the parking lot, but would like to see six-foot fencing and washrooms, at the least.
“People float down the river, they come back and you know what happens. They’ve been drinking beer all afternoon,” said Morrison. “They don’t bother looking for a washroom and I’ve got a campground full of customers. This is not the time or the place to do that kind of thing.”
He is also looking for more stringent measures to ensure people don’t park and camp overnight.
“Signs don’t work. Just a sign saying no parking doesn’t work. People will pull in there all night and camp,” said Morrison. “That camping is taking away my money that I have to make to make my contributions to the city.”
Morrison admits the parking is needed, given the numbers of tourists using the channel on sunny summer days, but he wants to see it well regulated, noting that in 2012 the lot operated without a permit.
Some councillors, like Judy Sentes and John Vassilaki, were already aware of the problems. They both agreed much more stringent criteria needed to be made a part of the temporary use permit. Vassilaki suggested a fence and washrooms needed to be in place before the permit was issued.
“I know they operated it last year and it was a horror show,” said Vassilaki. “If you went over there in the busy hours, when the channel is working full time you have hundreds, if not thousands of people running back and forth along that street.”
Another neighbour of the empty lot, Andrew Low, concurs. In a letter to council, he refutes a statement in the staff report to council that the parking lot was not operated in 2012.
“In 2012, signs were erected on the site instructing drivers to pay for parking by calling a phone number. On one occasion, we observed an individual apparently writing tickets for non-payment,” wrote Low. “To say that the parking lot was not in operation in 2012 gives the impression no one parked there. To the contrary, the parking lot was used extensively last year.”
Coun. Helena Konanz was concerned that permit or not, people would continue to park there.
“A parking lot, whether it be paid or free, is not a permitted use,” said Anthony Haddad, director of development services. Should parking happen in spite of a ticket, the city can take action, perhaps by cordoning off the property and following through with fines and other processes.
Council voted unanimously to approve the permit, but with the additional requirement of a minimum six-foot fence, washrooms, single access and proper supervision.