Penticton aims to curb parking congestion during events

New bylaw will see permits issued to residents in the area of special events

With ever greater numbers of special events coming to Penticton, finding room to park all the cars is increasingly becoming an issue.

Residents in the neighbourhoods surrounding King’s Park were so concerned about possible problems stemming from the upcoming Rock the Peach festival that they had a meeting with organizers of the three-day music festival and city staff. One thing that came out of it, according to Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for the city, is the new special event parking bylaw introduced at council this week.

“They raised some concerns with respect to loss of parking, as well as noise, time of day. We made a list of all those items and we are trying to action some of those,” said Moroziuk. But when he started looking into existing Penticton bylaws for ways to  address concerns, he found that the bylaws already on the books don’t allow for that.

There are two different parking problems related to special events. First, it hits residents of the neighbourhood around the event, who find they are unable to park in front of their own homes as event-goers grab every available parking space. And the event organizers themselves sometimes need a portion of the street set aside to park equipment, trucks and other vehicles.

Current bylaws have provisions to create residential parking only areas, but only in terms of addressing permanent, not temporary parking issues, and include a time-consuming application and review process. The new bylaw allows staff to define a special event parking area and issue permits to residents or event organizers depending on the need.

That would also include putting in parking signs, poles and placards as needed.

“We intend to use poles that exist and signposts that exist wherever we can. We are not going to go and put new posts up all over the place if we don’t need to,” said Moroziuk.

The special events parking bylaw is accompanied by a list of charges that event organizers will be charged for placards, signs, posts and labour.

The new bylaw will be triggered by requests for road closures and special events permits, so it doesn’t offer direct relief to people living around the South Okanagan Events Centre and Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, where parking can overflow into surrounding areas.

The bylaw could be used for larger events at the SOEC, according to Moroziuk, but would likely be handled by working with the planners there to flag future events where special event parking would be needed.

“I also think that would be a good problem to have,” said Mayor Dan Ashton, who adds that he is cognizant of residents’ concerns, but events large enough to cause problems are not regular occurrences. “On a percentage basis, hopefully it is only a few days out of the year. I would like it to be more. It’s a good problem I wish we had.”