Opposition to Penticton beach makeover remains buoyant

Another rally held Saturday to prepare opponents for upcoming public forum on plans to revitalize waterfront along Lakeshore Drive

Clifford Martin chats with a supporter on Saturday at a rally he organized to help block sweeping changes that he fears the city is bent on making to the Okanagan Lake waterfront. The mayor denies that claim and said the four options were all created from input received at community consultations.

Clifford Martin chats with a supporter on Saturday at a rally he organized to help block sweeping changes that he fears the city is bent on making to the Okanagan Lake waterfront. The mayor denies that claim and said the four options were all created from input received at community consultations.

Despite the addition of new options and public forums, the most vocal opponent of plans to make over the city’s Okanagan Lake waterfront remains convinced that Penticton’s municipal leaders are not interested in public opinion on the issue.

Clifford Martin was joined Saturday morning by about 50 other people on Lakeshore Drive to talk strategy for this coming Wednesday’s public forum on four options for revitalization of the waterfront between the giant peach and the SS Sicamous.

The first two options presented to the public called for changes to traffic flow, the elimination of angle parking, and came with an estimated cost of $7 million over and above the $1.2 million in grant money that’s available for the project. Those options prompted Martin’s first rally in August, which led to the creation a pair of less expensive options that would basically spruce up what’s there now.

Martin said he remains convinced that city officials will find a way to “sneak” elements of the first two options into the more modest visions proposed later to “basically get their own way.”

“Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me they’re more concerned about their self-pride and image than they are of what is beneficial and positive for Penticton,” Martin said.

Not so, countered Mayor Dan Ashton.

“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinions, but I can tell you that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” he said. “And I think its time that some people in that group started listening to what’s been said.”

Ashton stressed that all four options are still on the table, and further, that the proposals “didn’t come from the city, they came from the people” who attended public input sessions.

Martin, who said he works as a mechanic, didn’t invite any politicians to Saturday’s protest and said he has no interest in seeking office.

“Nope. I’m just pissed off,” he said, adding that some of his supporters will take legal action if necessary “to stop the city from this charade.”

Car buffs, who want to preserve angle parking and their ability to cruise in both directions along Lakeshore Drive, turned out in force on Saturday.

Daryl Waterman rolled up in his classic pickup truck and said the more extravagant of the proposed changes are aimed at tourists who come in droves at the peak of the summer season.

“After that, we just go back to sleepy Penticton, and we want to stay the way we are,” said Waterman, a member of the Okanagan Rodtiques Car Cub.

He acknowledged he might be “a little old-school in some ways,” but said he would like to see smaller improvements along the Sunset Strip like landscaping and lighting.

Bailey Styles, 19, was one of the younger faces at the rally and said the proposed waterfront revitalization is a hot-button topic in her crowd.

“All my friends think it’s an awful idea. It’s wasting money the city doesn’t have to waste,” said Styles, who grew up in Penticton and is attending dance school in Vancouver.

Styles, who would support improvements to the waterfront pathway, said her generation is equally as fired up as the older set, although perhaps less visibly so because, “We’re just busier.”

Public displays of all four options for Okanagan Lake waterfront revitalization will be available on Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, and also from 12-8:30 p.m. at the Penticton Community Centre. On Wednesday, the display will move to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre from 12-6 p.m.  CIty staff and members of the Waterfront Select Committee will be available to answer questions at the sessions.

The moderated public forum will go from 5-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. It will kick off with a presentation of the options, followed by a comment and question period. Anyone wishing to speak will have to sign up by 6 p.m.