Town of Osoyoos council had their first look at a plan to improve Main Street, including the controversial recommendation of removing angle parking for parallel parking.
A representative of the consulting group WSP Canada, who was hired to look at Main Street improvements, presented their suggestions and survey results to council at a special meeting held Nov. 2.
One of the recommendations is to remove angle parking to put in parallel down the two block strip of Main (Highway 97) from Park Place to Kingfisher. This is necessary to make improvements, they said, to widen sidewalks and add a planted meridian.
This suggestion comes after survey results showed that more than 90 per cent of residents and businesses surveyed overwhelmingly opposed changes to angle parking.
In the special meeting, the consultant said the only way to make room for improvements like planted medians and widened sidewalks is to remove angle parking.
Removing angle parking would see Main Street lose 20 stalls. Survey results show that residents want more customer parking, not less.
The plan is to move those lost parking spots to side streets where parking could be enhanced, encouraging more pedestrian traffic. The consultant suggested that gone are the days that people can just park in front of the store they are going to.
But council pointed out that the majority of the population are seniors who like parking in front of the stores and like angle parking.
“If we add medians, we run out of room so we have to decide, do we want medians and wider sidewalks or do we want to keep angle parking?” said the consultant.
Mayor Sue McKortoff wondered why can’t there be angled parking on one side and parallel on the other?
“Are you looking for us to make a decision on this right now?” McKortoff asked? “Because there is a lot to think about here and I think all of us need some time.”
The consultant said they were hoping for some direction.
There is no date set when the Main Street improvement plan is coming back to council, said director of operations Jared Brounstein.
The report said angle parking is dangerous because there is no way to see when backing out. It also caused higher crashes, but no statistics were provided when requested by council members on Tuesday.
One Osoyoos councillor said if they narrow the roadway and put in parallel parking, it will slow down traffic 20 to 30 cars back during summer while one vehicle tries to park.
Currently the road is so wide you can pull out of the angle parking without impeding traffic.
Using Penticton’s Main Street parallel parking as an example, traffic does have to stop in one lane to accommodate vehicles parallel parking.
Main Street in Osoyoos has overly wide lanes, which the consultant said could be narrowed by adding traffic calming meridians.
The survey, offered to residents in July and August, indicated that people wanted increased customer parking on Main, more outdoors seating, greenery and wider sidewalks.
Osoyoos council suggested that meridians may have to be eliminated from the plan to keep angle parking while still widening the sidewalks.
One person who filled out the survey wrote:
“Our angle parking works great on the Main Street. We’d lose too many spots if we switched to parallel. Who likes parking downtown Oliver. No one. Plus we need to consider our high population of elderly and disable people. They can’t necessarily park in some lot a few blocks away and walk.”