Don’t expect any major changes to parking around the South Okanagan Events Centre like more parking spots or a parkade in the near future.
An update to the 2015 South Okanagan Event Centre parking study came before Penticton city council at their Dec. 18 meeting. The results of the study are broken
Started last spring, the study was conducted to provide current information about parking capacity and demand at the busy complex and address parking and traffic pressures on the site and in the surrounding area.
“I’m pleased that this work has been completed as I know that the parking and traffic issues at the site were a concern for many citizens earlier this year,” says Mayor John Vassilaki. “As a member of the original council that approved the event centre, I’m thrilled that this complex is achieving our goal of being an entertainment and recreation destination for the entire valley.”
The city admitted in June that the December 2015 study underestimated the need for parking at the SOEC.
“The site is busier than the original estimate of eight to 10 nights per year. Activity levels are closer to one busy weekend each month plus several nights with higher than normal activity,” reads the City of Penticton release accompanying the results of a survey that showed area residents were reporting problems finding parking.
The actual estimate in the parking study dated Dec. 2015 was for even fewer problem nights.
“On average, six nights a year require event attendees to find parking off-site,” reads the 2015 report authored by James Donnelly of Urban Systems.
There were actually two parking studies delivered by Urban Systems in 2015, one in September and another in December replacing the September version, which contained factual errors, including overestimating the number of parking spots along Power Street and underestimating the number of fans attending Vees games.
The report’s conclusion remained the same though: with more than 1,000 parking spaces on site, there is sufficient parking at the SOEC for the majority of the year and on occasions where a major event is taking place, there are another 1,000 spaces in lots and on the streets within a five to 10-minute walk.
The new study proposes a series of options to consider in the short, medium and long terms. Some of the short-term options that could be considered in the next two years include installing signage, adding pedestrian crossings, and introducing time restrictions on parking at the community centre and on adjacent residential streets. These measures would direct traffic towards underutilized parking areas and away from the roundabout, increase pedestrian safety on site and encourage turnover in high demand lots.
Options to increase parking supply are proposed for the medium term or the next three to five years. These options include reconfiguring the curling club and community centre lots to add 32 spaces and developing new parking on the Eckhardt and Creston lots to add 72 spaces.
“The options proposed for the short term would make better use of the space we have today at a lower cost and impact to the community,” said Bregje Kozak, director of recreation and facilities. “With the high cost to develop new parking, these options would need to be considered in the next few years to allow for proper budgeting and prioritization against other city initiatives.”
A parkade has been included amongst the options for the long-term or beyond five years.
“We received a lot of feedback that people would like to see a parkade at the site,” says Kozak. “This is something that could be considered in the long term but our hope is that some of the other options provide the relief people are hoping for before we make this investment.”
The study also recommends further work to develop transportation demand options such as improvements to transit and shuttle services, more accessibility options as well as infrastructure for cycling. The city is planning additional workshops to confirm plans for transportation demand management options.
The complete report and a copy of the study findings are now available at penticton.ca. Council is being asked to receive the report for information and will make a decision on the recommendations through the budget process.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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