Changes are coming to the Okanagan Lake waterfront in Penticton, but two new proposals are dramatically different than the first two plans.
Two previous options put forward in August provoked a strong negative reaction from community members when word spread that both plans included changing the traffic flow along Lakeshore Drive to one way and eliminating the current angle parking in favour of parallel.
The two new recommendations, which have yet to be developed in detail, now both support two-way traffic and angled parking along the stretch of Lakeshore drive from The Peach to the SS Sicamous.
The change in direction, said Mayor Dan Ashton, has everything to do with the public input the city has received, especially from a 250-member protest rally on Aug. 28, which resulted in a 1,000 name petition presented to council last Monday.
“We know this is an issue that has the attention of the community,” said Ashton, adding that there would still have to be work done on the Okanagan Lake waterfront. “We need improvements down there. Improvements have to be done for safety, improvements have to be done for access.”
Coun. Helen Konanz, one of the city’s two representatives on the waterfront revitalization committee, said the committee was responding to the public input.
“I think we have all learned that people respond to presentations in different ways,” said Konanz. “How many times have I heard in the last couple of weeks that angle parking is so important? We would never have known that without the thousands of responses. How would we have known people didn’t want parallel parking?”
Ashton said there will be a major public town hall meeting “as soon as possible” to gather public input on the new options as well as the existing two. City Manager Annette Antoniak said the meeting is probably about three weeks away, with Mitch Moriziuk, the city’s director of operations, needing at least two weeks to prepare drawings based on the discussions the waterfront revitalization committee started Thursday.
Cliff Martin, one of the organizers of the August protest rally at the beach, thanked the city and the waterfront committee for coming forward with the new options so quickly.
“I didn’t really think it would happen,” said Martin. “I thought there would have to be a lot more protests.”
As presented to council at a special public council meeting yesterday morning, both of the new options are much smaller in scope. Couns. Garry Litke, council’s other representatives on the waterfront revitalization committee, describes Option 3 as “minimalist.”
“It’s not quite status quo, because there is quite a bit of crumbling infrastructure there that needs to be replaced and there are some minor improvements that need to be done,” said Litke, describing the option as just cleaning up the lakeshore. Option 4, however, is a little wider in scope.
“There is a strong voice from the community that the walkway needs to be widened,” said Litke. “However, in order to widen that walkway at some points a little bit of beach might have to be sacrificed, a tree might have to come down, a few angled parking spaces might have to come out.”
Option 4 also includes the removal of the mounds in Lakawana Park, a suggestion that met with applause from the small audience in council chambers. Coun. John Vassilaki said that work should also be included under Option 3.
Rod King, chair of the waterfront revitalization committee, hopes they can have more details of Options 3 and 4 available to the public prior to the public meeting.
“We just took the feedback from the public and those were the broad things we heard. It hasn’t been fleshed out at all,” he said. “All the way along, I have said the more public input we have, the better.”