Pedestrians partial to walking a quiet path to the lake won a reprieve Tuesday, when they successfully prompted Penticton council to delay its decision on a four-plex development following a lengthy public hearing.
Council deferred the vote on the zoning bylaw amendment for a four-plex at 433 Churchill St., which required a variance permit to allow for a slight reduction of side and backyard setbacks.
But few people were talking about yard width Tuesday night, as a dozen nearby residents came out to voice their opposition to the project’s parking plan that could impinge on pedestrian traffic toward Okanagan Lake.
Paddy Smith presented a letter signed by local residents against the proposed development, noting they would prefer the development scaled back to a duplex and that residents would like to work with the developer to make the project fit in more with the neighbourhood.
While some residents took issue with the height and density of the project, most implored council to preserve the pedestrian and cyclist walkway that had been established in the lane running south from Lakeshore Drive to Churchill. Parking for the four-plex would be accessed from two driveways that were situated off the lane.
“We’re talking about a pathway, not a real roadway,” Kathryn Smith said. “It’s not really a laneway, but cars are using it now. I think it would be dangerous to use it for parking.”
The entrance to the path off Lakeshore has posts that block vehicles, but there are no barriers off Churchill or Alexander Avenue. Development services director Anthony Haddad said at the outset of the public hearing that four-way stop signs could be installed at the juncture to address concerns about safety.
Randy Tayler walked council through photographs of the lane’s pedestrian traffic, which included elderly residents using walkers, mothers pushing strollers and children carrying floaties.
“Cars and people have to dance around each other. This situation will only get worse if there are cars backing up from tandem driveways,” Tayler said.
Coun. Judy Sentes asked staff why the lane had been opened up to four-way egress, with the lane between Lakeshore and Churchill paved to the east of the walkway. Haddad explained the segment of lane was created as part of a multi-family development to the east of Churchill, which likely caused the increased traffic in the area.
“My suggestion is the walkway was there first. I think it was brilliant to have it, and now we’re destroying it,” Sentes said.
Council deferred the application to allow the developer, planning department and residents time to come up with a solution that would accommodate the project and protect the path.